Benedict of Nursia (Latin: Benedictus Nursiae; Italian: Benedetto da Norcia; Vulgar Latin: *Benedecto; Gothic: Benedikt; c. 2 March 480 – c. 543 or 21 March 547 AD) is a Christian saint, who is venerated in the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox Churches, the Anglican Communion and Old Catholic Churches. He is a patron saint of Europe.
Benedict founded twelve communities for monks at Subiaco, Lazio, Italy (about 40 miles (64 km) to the east of Rome), before moving to Monte Cassino in the mountains of southern Italy. The Order of Saint Benedict is of later origin and, moreover, not an "order" as commonly understood but merely a confederation of autonomous congregations.
Benedict's main achievement is his "Rule of Saint Benedict", containing precepts for his monks. It is heavily influenced by the writings of John Cassian, and shows strong affinity with the Rule of the Master. But it also has a unique spirit of balance, moderation and reasonableness (ἐπιείκεια, epieíkeia), and this persuaded most religious communities founded throughout the Middle Ages to adopt it. As a result, his Rule became one of the most influential religious rules in Western Christendom. For this reason, Benedict is often called the founder of Western Christian monasticism.
Saint Benedict of Nursia
Saint Benedict depicted in an Eastern Orthodox icon
Patron of Europe (Patronus Europae)
|Born||c. AD 2 March 480|
Norcia, Umbria, Kingdom of Odoacer
|Died||c. AD 21 March 547|
Monte Cassino, Kingdom of the Ostrogoths
|Venerated in||All Christian denominations which venerate saints|
|Canonized||1220, Rome, Papal States by Pope Honorius III|
|Major shrine||Monte Cassino Abbey, with his burial|
|Feast||11 July (General Roman Calendar), (Anglican Communion)|
14 March (Eastern Orthodox Church)
21 March (pre-1970 General Roman Calendar)
-Broken cup and serpent representing poison
-Man in a Benedictine cowl holding Benedict's rule or a rod of discipline
-Heraldry and Officers of arms
-the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest
-People in religious orders
-Schoolchildren and students
-Servants who have broken their master's belongings
Apart from a short poem attributed to Mark of Monte Cassino, the only ancient account of Benedict is found in the second volume of Pope Gregory I's four-book Dialogues, thought to have been written in 593, although the authenticity of this work has been disputed.
Gregory's account of this saint's life is not, however, a biography in the modern sense of the word. It provides instead a spiritual portrait of the gentle, disciplined abbot. In a letter to Bishop Maximilian of Syracuse, Gregory states his intention for his Dialogues, saying they are a kind of floretum (an anthology, literally, 'flowers') of the most striking miracles of Italian holy men.
Gregory did not set out to write a chronological, historically anchored story of Saint Benedict, but he did base his anecdotes on direct testimony. To establish his authority, Gregory explains that his information came from what he considered the best sources: a handful of Benedict's disciples who lived with the saint and witnessed his various miracles. These followers, he says, are Constantinus, who succeeded Benedict as Abbot of Monte Cassino; Valentinianus; Simplicius; and Honoratus, who was abbot of Subiaco when St Gregory wrote his Dialogues.
In Gregory's day, history was not recognised as an independent field of study; it was a branch of grammar or rhetoric, and historia (defined as 'story') summed up the approach of the learned when they wrote what was, at that time, considered 'history.' Gregory's Dialogues Book Two, then, an authentic medieval hagiography cast as a conversation between the Pope and his deacon Peter, is designed to teach spiritual lessons.
He was the son of a Roman noble of Nursia, the modern Norcia, in Umbria. A tradition which Bede accepts makes him a twin with his sister Scholastica. If 480 is accepted as the year of his birth, the year of his abandonment of his studies and leaving home would be about 500. Saint Gregory's narrative makes it impossible to suppose him younger than 20 at the time. He was old enough to be in the midst of his literary studies, to understand the real meaning and worth of the dissolute and licentious lives of his companions, and to have been deeply affected by the love of a woman. He was at the beginning of life, and he had at his disposal the means to a career as a Roman noble; clearly he was not a child.
Benedict was sent to Rome to study, but was dissatisfied by the life he found there. He does not seem to have left Rome for the purpose of becoming a hermit, but only to find some place away from the life of the great city. He took his old nurse with him as a servant and they settled down to live in Enfide. Enfide, which the tradition of Subiaco identifies with the modern Affile, is in the Simbruini mountains, about forty miles from Rome and two from Subiaco.
A short distance from Enfide is the entrance to a narrow, gloomy valley, penetrating the mountains and leading directly to Subiaco. The path continues to ascend, and the side of the ravine, on which it runs, becomes steeper, until a cave is reached above which the mountain now rises almost perpendicularly; while on the right, it strikes in a rapid descent down to where, in Saint Benedict's day, 500 feet (150 m) below, lay the blue waters of the lake. The cave has a large triangular-shaped opening and is about ten feet deep. On his way from Enfide, Benedict met a monk, Romanus of Subiaco, whose monastery was on the mountain above the cliff overhanging the cave. Romanus had discussed with Benedict the purpose which had brought him to Subiaco, and had given him the monk's habit. By his advice Benedict became a hermit and for three years, unknown to men, lived in this cave above the lake.
Gregory tells us little of these years. He now speaks of Benedict no longer as a youth (puer), but as a man (vir) of God. Romanus, Gregory tells us, served the saint in every way he could. The monk apparently visited him frequently, and on fixed days brought him food.
During these three years of solitude, broken only by occasional communications with the outer world and by the visits of Romanus, Benedict matured both in mind and character, in knowledge of himself and of his fellow-man, and at the same time he became not merely known to, but secured the respect of, those about him; so much so that on the death of the abbot of a monastery in the neighbourhood (identified by some with Vicovaro), the community came to him and begged him to become its abbot. Benedict was acquainted with the life and discipline of the monastery, and knew that "their manners were diverse from his and therefore that they would never agree together: yet, at length, overcome with their entreaty, he gave his consent" (ibid., 3). The experiment failed; the monks tried to poison him. The legend goes that they first tried to poison his drink. He prayed a blessing over the cup and the cup shattered. Thus he left the group and went back to his cave at Subiaco. There lived in the neighborhood a priest called Florentius who, moved by envy, tried to ruin him. He tried to poison him with poisoned bread. When he prayed a blessing over the bread, a raven swept in and took the loaf away. From this time his miracles seem to have become frequent, and many people, attracted by his sanctity and character, came to Subiaco to be under his guidance. Having failed by sending him poisonous bread, Florentius tried to seduce his monks with some prostitutes. To avoid further temptations, in about 530 Benedict left Subiaco. He founded 12 monasteries in the vicinity of Subiaco, and, eventually, in 530 he founded the great Benedictine monastery of Monte Cassino, which lies on a hilltop between Rome and Naples.
During the invasion of Italy, Totila, King of the Goths, ordered a general to wear his kingly robes and to see whether Benedict would discover the truth. Immediately the Saint detected the impersonation, and Totila came to pay him due respect.
He died of a fever at Monte Cassino not long after his sister, Saint Scholastica, 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.
In the pre-1970 General Roman Calendar, his feast is kept on 21 March, the day of his death according to some manuscripts of the Martyrologium Hieronymianum and that of Bede. Because on that date his liturgical memorial would always be impeded by the observance of Lent, the 1969 revision of the General Roman Calendar moved his memorial to 11 July, the date that appears in some Gallic liturgical books of the end of the 8th century as the feast commemorating his birth (Natalis S. Benedicti). There is some uncertainty about the origin of this feast. Accordingly, on 21 March the Roman Martyrology mentions in a line and a half that it is Benedict's day of death and that his memorial is celebrated on 11 July, while on 11 July it devotes seven lines to speaking of him, and mentions the tradition that he died on 21 March.
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.
This medal originally came from a cross in honour of Saint Benedict. On one side, the medal has an image of Saint Benedict, holding the Holy Rule in his left hand and a cross in his right. There is a raven on one side of him, with a cup on the other side of him. Around the medal's outer margin are the words "Eius in obitu nostro praesentia muniamur" ("May we, at our death, be fortified by His presence"). The other side of the medal has a cross with the initials CSSML on the vertical bar which signify "Crux Sacra Sit Mihi Lux" ("May the Holy Cross be my light") and on the horizontal bar are the initials NDSMD which stand for "Non Draco Sit Mihi Dux" ("Let not the dragon be my overlord"). The initials CSPB stand for "Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti" ("The Cross of the Holy Father Benedict") and are located on the interior angles of the cross. Either the inscription "PAX" (Peace) or the Christogram "IHS" may be found at the top of the cross in most cases. Around the medal's margin on this side are the Vade Retro Satana initials VRSNSMV which stand for "Vade Retro Satana, Nonquam Suade Mihi Vana" ("Begone Satan, do not suggest to me thy vanities") then a space followed by the initials SMQLIVB which signify "Sunt Mala Quae Libas, Ipse Venena Bibas" ("Evil are the things thou profferest, drink thou thy own poison").
This medal was first struck in 1880 to commemorate the fourteenth centenary of Saint Benedict's birth and is also called the Jubilee Medal; its exact origin, however, is unknown. In 1647, during a witchcraft trial at Natternberg near Metten Abbey in Bavaria, the accused women testified they had no power over Metten, which was under the protection of the cross. An investigation found a number of painted crosses on the walls of the abbey with the letters now found on St Benedict medals, but their meaning had been forgotten. A manuscript written in 1415 was eventually found that had a picture of Saint Benedict holding a scroll in one hand and a staff which ended in a cross in the other. On the scroll and staff were written the full words of the initials contained on the crosses. Medals then began to be struck in Germany, which then spread throughout Europe. This medal was first approved by Pope Benedict XIV in his briefs of 23 December 1741, and 12 March 1742.
Saint Benedict has been also the motive of many collector's coins around the world. The Austria 50 euro 'The Christian Religious Orders', issued on 13 March 2002 is one of them.
The early Middle Ages have been called "the Benedictine centuries." In April 2008, Pope Benedict XVI discussed the influence St Benedict had on Western Europe. The pope said that "with his life and work St Benedict exercised a fundamental influence on the development of European civilization and culture" and helped Europe to emerge from the "dark night of history" that followed the fall of the Roman empire.
Saint Benedict contributed more than anyone else to the rise of monasticism in the West. His Rule was the foundational document for thousands of religious communities in the Middle Ages. To this day, The Rule of St. Benedict is the most common and influential Rule used by monasteries and monks, more than 1,400 years after its writing. Today the Benedictine family is represented by two branches: the Benedictine Federation and the Cistercians.
The influence of Saint Benedict produced "a true spiritual ferment" in Europe, and over the coming decades his followers spread across the continent to establish a new cultural unity based on Christian faith.
A basilica was built upon the birthplace of Saints Benedict and Scholastica in the 1400s. Ruins of their familial home were excavated from beneath the church and preserved. The earthquake of 30 October 2016 completely devastated the structure of the basilica, leaving only the front facade and altar standing.
Today, tens of thousands of men and women throughout the world profess to live their lives according to Benedict's Rule. These men and women are associated with over two thousand Roman Catholic, Anglican, and ecumenical Benedictine monasteries on six continents.
The Abbey of Saint Scholastica, also known as Subiaco Abbey (Italian: Abbazia di Santa Scolastica), is located just outside the town of Subiaco in the Province of Rome, Region of Lazio, Italy; and is still an active Benedictine order, territorial abbey, first founded in the 6th century AD by Saint Benedict of Nursia. It was in one of the Subiaco caves (or grotto) that Benedict made his first hermitage. The monastery today gives its name to the Subiaco Congregation, a grouping of monasteries worldwide that makes up part of the Order of Saint Benedict.
St. Scholastica's Abbey today is part of the Subiaco Congregation, a grouping of 64 male Benedictine monasteries on five continents, to which 54 female monasteries also belong, within the larger Benedictine Confederation.American-Cassinese Benedictine Congregation
Founded 1855, the American-Cassinese Congregation is a Catholic association of Benedictine monasteries in the Benedictine Confederation.
The Congregation consists of 20 independent monasteries with houses or dependencies in 16 of the United States, Puerto Rico, and in six other countries on three continents.Abbot Boniface Wimmer OSB, founder of Saint Vincent Archabbey in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, created the Congregation. Pope Pius IX erected it as a monastic congregation under the patronage of the Holy Guardian Angels.The monasteries of the Congregation follow the Rule of Saint Benedict of Nursia (480-547).Benedict (given name)
Benedict is a masculine given name, which comes from Late Latin word Benedictus, meaning "blessed". Etymologically it is derived from the Latin words bene ('good') and dicte ('speak'), i.e. "well spoken". The name was borne by Saint Benedict of Nursia, the founder of the Order of Saint Benedict and thereby of Western Monasticism. The Italian equivalent is Benedetto.Berno of Cluny
Saint Berno of Cluny (French: Bernon) or Berno of Baume (c. 850 – 13 January 927) was the first abbot of Cluny from its foundation in 909 until he died in 927. He began the tradition of the Cluniac reforms which his successors spread across Europe.
Berno was first a monk at St. Martin's Abbey, Autun, and then at Baume Abbey about 886. In 890, he founded the monastery of Gigny on his own estates, and others at Bourg-Dieu and Massay. In 910, William I of Aquitaine, founder of Cluny, nominated him abbot of the new foundation. Berno placed the monastery under the Benedictine rule (founded by Benedict of Nursia and reformed by Benedict of Aniane).
He resigned as abbot in 925, his abbeys being divided between his relative Vido and his disciple Odo of Cluny.
He is regarded as a saint, with his feast day on 13 January.Equitius
Saint Equitius (Italian: Sant'Equizio) was an abbot of the 6th century. He was born between 480 and 490 in the region of Valeria Suburbicaria (present-day L'Aquila-Rieti-Tivoli). Gregory the Great refers to Equitius in his Dialogues (I,4 in PL, LXXVII, coll. 165-77), and states that Equitius was a follower of Saint Benedict of Nursia. Equitius worked to spread monasticism in Italy and the West but was never ordained as a priest. However, Gregory writes that Equitius’ reputation for sanctity was such that the saint was able to recruit many new monks in the region of Valeria, many of whom later acquired high office within the Church. The pope initiated an investigation into Equitius when complaints were made regarding the saint’s standing. The pope sent a priest named Julian to investigate Equitius, but the pope ended the investigation after receiving a vision concerning Equitius.Equitius died at his monastery of San Lorenzo di Pizzoli. His monks were absorbed into the Benedictine Order.Gisulf I of Benevento
Gisulf I (died 706) was the duke of Benevento from 689, when his brother Grimoald II died. His father was Romuald I. His mother was Theodrada (or Theuderata), daughter of Lupus of Friuli, and she exercised the regency for him for the first years of his reign.
According to Paul the Deacon, it was during his reign that the relics of Saint Benedict of Nursia and Saint Scholastica his sister were taken from Monte Cassino by the Franks. Gisulf may have granted the monastery of San Vincenzo al Volturno a bloc of land 500 km2 (190 sq mi) in size around 700.In about 705, Gisulf took the cities of Sora, Arpino, and Arce. He marched as far as Horrea, plundering and burning, before he was confronted with gifts by the ambassadors of Pope John VI, who ransomed many of his captives and induced him to return whence he had come to his own dominions.
He was an energetic duke, like his father and grandfather. He fought against king, pope, and Byzantine. He was married to Winiperga and was succeeded by his son Romuald II.Manso, Prefect of Amalfi
Manso I or II was the Prefect of Amalfi from 898 to 914.
He succeeded, or may have deposed, Stephen, a relative of the first ruling family, and to whom he was unrelated. In 900, he associated his son Mastalus with him, following a practice that was to become widespread in the Mezzogiorno. He retired to the monastery of Saint Benedict of Nursia in Scala, leaving Amalfi to his son, the first judge.Mount Saint Benedict
Mount Saint Benedict Abbey, also known as The Abbey of Our Lady of Exile is a Benedictine monastery following the Order of Saint Benedict. This monastery is located in the northwestern town of St. Augustine in Tunapuna–Piarco in Trinidad and Tobago.The Benedictine Order was founded by Saint Benedict of Nursia who wrote The Rule of Saint Benedict followed by all Benedictines. The Motto of the Order is Ora Et Labora, 'Pray and Work'. Benedict, born in 480 in Nursia, Italy, was sent by his family to Rome to study law. Revolted by the immoral atmosphere of the city, he decided to become a hermit, spending his days in seclusion and prayer. Eventually, Benedict gained a following and established the Benedictine order.Placidus (martyr)
Saint Placidus (Placitus), along with Saints Eutychius (Euticius), Victorinus and their sister Flavia, Donatus, Firmatus the deacon, Faustus, and thirty others, have been venerated as Christian martyrs. They were said to be martyred either by pirates at Messina or under the Emperor Diocletian.
In their "Acts," this Placidus was confused with a saint of the same name who was a follower of St. Benedict. Thus, the legend of this unknown Sicilian martyr has him go to Italy in 541, and found a monastery at Messina, of which he was abbot, and where he was said to have been martyred with thirty companions.
The feast day of the martyr saints was not in the Tridentine Calendar, but was included in the General Roman Calendar from its 1588 to 1962 editions for celebration on 5 October, the feast day of the two monks who were disciples of Saint Benedict of Nursia from their boyhood, Saint Maurus and Placidus. Some traditionalist Catholics continue to observe pre-1970 calendars.Romanus of Subiaco
Saint Romanus of Subiaco (died ca. 550 AD) was a hermit in the area around Subiaco, Italy.
He is remembered as having assisted and influenced Saint Benedict of Nursia, when the latter had just begun his life as a hermit. Romanus provided Benedict with clothing (a religious habit), food, and housing (in the form of a cave above the river Anio, which Benedict lived in for 3 yearsRomanus is said to have gone to Gaul, where he founded a small monastery at Dryes-Fontrouge in Auxerre. He died there about 550 and was venerated as a saint. He is sometimes identified with the Romanus of Auxerre who was venerated as Bishop of Auxerre on 8 October.Rue Saint-Maur (Paris Métro)
Rue Saint-Maur is a station on Paris Métro Line 3. The station opened on 19 October 1904 as part of the first section of line 3 between Père Lachaise and Villiers.
The Rue Saint-Maur is named after Saint Maurus, a disciple of Saint Benedict of Nursia, who is said to have saved Saint Placid from drowning. Until the early years of the 21st century the station was called Saint-Maur, but its name was changed to avoid confusion with stations on RER line A in Saint-Maur-des-Fossés in the southeastern suburbs of Paris.Saint-Benoît, Quebec
Saint-Benoît, Quebec was a municipality in Quebec until its amalgamation with neighbouring towns in 1971 to form the town of Sainte-Scholastique, which was renamed Mirabel in 1973. The village was named after Saint Benedict of Nursia (in French, Benoît).Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire
Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire is a commune in the Loiret department in north-central France.
This town hosts the Abbaye de Fleury, also known as the Abbaye de Saint Benoît (Saint Benedict Abbey). Founded around 630, it is one of the oldest abbeys of the Benedictine rule. In 660, the remains of Saint Benedict of Nursia were transferred to Saint Benoît from Monte Cassino.
The monastery, known for the Fleury Playbook, was pillaged and damaged multiple times over the course of history, including during the Norman conquests and the French Revolution. The current abbey church is in the Romanesque style and dates from the eleventh century. A community of approximately 40 monks currently resides in the monastery.Saint Benedict, Oregon
Saint Benedict is the name of the post office at Mount Angel Abbey in Marion County, Oregon, United States.
When it moved from Gervais to the town of Mt. Angel in 1884, the postal service would not allow the abbey to establish its own post office as it was less than a mile from the Mount Angel post office. A new abbey was completed on the top of nearby Mount Angel butte in 1903, and Saint Benedict post office was established there in 1914. Mount Angel Abbey was originally named Saint Benedict's Abbey, which in turn was named for Benedict of Nursia, the founder of the Order of Saint Benedict. The ZIP code of the post office is 97373.Sainte-Scholastique, Quebec
The village of Sainte-Scholastique, Quebec, Canada, was the historic seat of Deux Montagnes County from 1834 until its amalgamation with neighbouring towns in 1971. Two years later, it was renamed to Mirabel. The village was named after Saint Scholastica, the sister of St. Benedict of Nursia (in French, Benoît), for whom the neighboring village of Saint-Benoît, Quebec was also named that same year.
Its location was 1 km south of the apron of the modern Montréal-Mirabel International Airport's runway 10.Sarabaites
Sarabaites were a kind of Christian monks widespread before the time of Benedict of Nursia. They were also known as remoboths.Scholastica
Scholastica (c. 480 – 10 February 543) is a saint of the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches. She is honored in the Episcopal Church's calendar of saints. She was born in Italy. According to a ninth century tradition, she was the twin sister of Benedict of Nursia. Her feast day is 10 February.Sylvester Gozzolini
Saint Silvestro Guzzolini (1177 – 26 November 1267) was an Italian Roman Catholic priest and the founder of the Silvestrini. He served as a canon in Osimo but respectful rebukes of his bishop's inappropriate conduct led him to leave for a hermitage before the bishop could strip him of his position. He remained in his hermitage with a determination to found a religious congregation and based it upon the Order of Saint Benedict after having a dream of Saint Benedict of Nursia. His order received papal approval from Pope Innocent IV which allowed his order to expand across Italian cities to a significant degree.His beatification was confirmed in the 1260s and he was later canonized in 1598 as a saint.Terra Sancti Benedicti
The Terra Sancti Benedicti ("Land of Saint Benedict") was the secular territory, or seignory, of the powerful Abbey of Montecassino, the chief monastery of the Mezzogiorno and one of the first Western monasteries: founded by Benedict of Nursia himself, hence the name of its possessions.
The secular holdings had their origin in the donation of Gisulf II of Benevento in 744. The Terra was not large, it formed a basically contiguous zone around the hill of Montecassino, but it was valuable land and the site of many battles in many wars. It was immediately subject to the Holy See and constituted its own state. In 1057, Pope Victor II declared that the abbot of Montecassino had preeminence over and above all other abbots.