Who is St. Benedict?

Today is the feast of our Holy Father Saint Benedict! In celebration of his life and ministry we share with you this short synopsis of his life. We hope you enjoy it! Happy Feast day!

For more than one thousand five hundred years, Benedictine monks have framed all of their lives, all of their being, around a tiny set of guidelines: The Rule of St. Benedict. But where did the Rule come from? Who is St. Benedict?

Born in the year 480 to Roman nobles, Benedict of Norcia was raised in a time of upheaval – The Roman empire had fallen and licentiousness and conflict ruled the day. Disillusioned during his studies, he struck out from Rome entering the wild, seeking solitude. 

In his youth, he had already performed miracles. The simple mending of a plate -- a foretelling of greater things to come.

Traveling alone to the east,  traversing the Apennine Mountains, he came upon a cave at  Subiaco. There, he lived as a hermit sustained only by the secret kindness of the monk, Saint Romanus, who lowered bread by a rope to Benedict’s cliffside home.

After battling temptation and the devil for three years in his mountain cave,  a group of monks pleaded with him to lead their community. Over time, the monks grew to resent his radical way of life, and sought to dispose of him by poisoning his wine. Upon blessing the wine, the glass shattered and the monks’ treachery was revealed. St. Benedict departed again to seek God alone in the wilderness.

As time wore on he sought to share his love of Christ with others, founding twelve monasteries, ultimately settling in Monte Cassino. He began writing a set of principles for his monks to live by, having the knowledge of a life of seeking Christ. thus was born The Rule. At the base of Monte Cassino, St. Benedict’s twin sister, St. Scholastica, established the first Benedictine community of women. 

At the age of 67, St. Benedict was struck with a fever. Knowing his hour was approaching, he summoned monks to pray by his side, and on March 21, 547, St. Benedict died as his brothers raised his arms in one final prayer as he passed from this life. 

From this seed, Benedictine monasticism spread throughout Europe. As the Barbarian invasions wreaked havoc, Benedictine monks set about tirelessly deciphering and copying texts, clinging to the Christian call as civilization devolved around them, retaining a culture that would be planted again as the tumultuousness of society began to calm. 

Today, St. Benedict is hailed as the father of western monasticism. He is the patron Saint of Europe and of a happy death, and the Holy Father of the Benedictine Order. What would western civilization look like without St. Benedict? It is impossible to say – but for more than one thousand five hundred years monks across the world have carried on his great work forever living his directive, that in all things God may be glorified.