Saint of the Day – 11 July – St Benedict of Nursia O.S.B. – Abbot Patron of Europe (Patronus Europae) and Founder of Western Monasticism

Saint of the Day – 11 July – St Benedict of Nursia O.S.B. – Abbot Patron of Europe (Patronus Europae) – Also known as: Benedict of Narsia, Benedict of Norsia, Benedetto da Norcia, Founder of Western Monasticism – (c 480, Narsia, Umbria, Italy – 21 March 547 of a fever while in prayer at Monte Cassino, Italy).   He buried beneath the high altar there in the same tomb as Saint Scholastica.   He was Canonised in 1220 by Pope Honorius III.  Patronages:
-Against poison
-Against witchcraft
-Agricultural workers
-Civil engineers
-Dying people
-Gall stones
-Heerdt (Germany)
-Heraldry and Officers of arms
-the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest
-Inflammatory diseases
-Italian architects
-Kidney disease
-Nettle rash
-Norcia, (Italy)
-People in religious orders
-Schoolchildren and students
-Servants who have broken their master’s belongings

-Broken tray
-Broken cup and serpent representing poison
-Broken utensil
-Man in a Benedictine cowl holding Benedict’s rule or a rod of discipline

Fra Angelico

Benedict was born into a distinguished family in central Italy, studied at Rome and early in life was drawn to monasticism.   At first he became a hermit, leaving a depressing world—pagan armies on the march, the Church torn by schism, people suffering from war, morality at a low ebb.

He soon realised that he could not live a hidden life in a small town any better than in a large city, so he withdrew to a cave high in the mountains for three years.   Some monks chose Benedict as their leader for a while, but found his strictness not to their taste.   Still the shift from hermit to community life had begun for him.   He had an idea of gathering various families of monks into one “Grand Monastery” to give them the benefit of unity, fraternity and permanent worship in one house.   Finally he began to build what was to become one of the most famous monasteries in the world—Monte Cassino, commanding three narrow valleys running toward the mountains north of Naples.

The Rule that gradually developed prescribed a life of liturgical prayer, study, manual labor, and living together in community under a common abbot.   Benedictine asceticism is known for its moderation, and Benedictine charity has always shown concern for the people in the surrounding countryside.   In the course of the Middle Ages, all monasticism in the West was gradually brought under the Rule of St. Benedict.

Today the Benedictine family is represented by two branches:  the Benedictine Federation encompassing the men and women of the Order of St. Benedict and the Cistercians, men and women of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance.

St Benedict died at Monte Cassino not long after his sister, Saint Scholastica.   Benedict died of a high fever on the day God had told him he was to die and was buried in the same place as his sister.   According to tradition, this occurred on 21 March 543 or 547. He was named patron protector of Europe by Pope Paul VI in 1964.   In 1980, Pope John Paul II declared him co-patron of Europe, together with Saints Cyril and Methodius.

Rule of Saint Benedict

Seventy-three short chapters comprise the Rule.   Its wisdom is of two kinds:  spiritual (how to live a Christocentric life on earth) and administrative (how to run a monastery efficiently).   More than half the chapters describe how to be obedient and humble and what to do when a member of the community is not.   About one-fourth regulate the work of God (the Opus Dei).   One-tenth outline how and by whom, the monastery should be managed.

Following the golden rule of Ora et Labora – pray and work, the monks each day devoted eight hours to prayer, eight hours to sleep and eight hours to manual work, sacred reading, or works of charity