Sunday, July 11, 2010

Saint of the Day - St. Benedict

St. Benedict was born in Nursia, Umbria, Italy, in 480 A.D. He and his twin sister, St. Scholastica, were born into a noble family. Benedict lived and studied in Rome throughout his youth. At some point during his teenage years (his exact age at the time is disputed) Benedict left Rome with his servant and settled for a short time in the city of Enfide with "a company of virtuous men." St. Benedict abandoned Enfide after performing his first miracle: the reparation of an earthenware wheat-sifter which his servant had broken. He was then so hounded by the local townspeople that he fled Enfide on his own for the small town of Subiaco.
It was at this time that Benedict first resolved to live the life of a poor laborer. He met, on his way to Subiaco, a monk by the name of Romanus. Romanus invested Benedict with the monk's habit and advised him to spend some time as a hermit. For three years Benedict lived in a secluded cave near a lake, unknown to all but Romanus whom he visited frequently.

By the end of these three years he had become known to neighboring peoples for his sanctity. When the abbot of a nearby monastary passed away the people begged Benedict to take his place. Though Benedict knew that the rule of the monastary differed greatly from his own ideas he was overcome by the entreaties of the people and agreed to their request. The experiment ended in the monks attempting to poison St. Benedict who then returned to his cave with a large group of followers.

For these followers Benedict built a total of twelve monastaries while keeping a few followers with him in the cave. Benedict, himself, was the abbot of all these. With the increasing notoriety of Benedict's monastaries came jealousy and persecution. In order to protect his followers from this Benedict left the cave for the town of Monte Cassino.

In this place Benedict destroyed a temple to the roman god Apollo and put an end to pagan and satanic practices. On the site of the temple Benedict built the oratory of St. Martin and an oratory of St. John. He then converted the people by his preaching and built a new monastery. It was most likely here that St. Benedict wrote his rule for monastic life.

St. Benedict died on March 21, 547 of a fever while praying at Monte Cassino. He is buried at Monte Cassino with his sister, St. Scholastica. Benedict was canonized by Pope Honorius III in 1220. He is the patron saint: against erysipelas; against fever; against gall stones; against inflammatory diseases; against kidney disease; against nettle rash; against poison; against temptations; against witchcraft; of agricultural workers; of cavers; of civil engineers; of coppersmiths; of dying people; of Europe; of farm workers; of farmers; of Heerdt, Germany; of Italian architects; of monks; of Norcia, Italy; of people in religious orders; of school children; of servants who have broken their master's belongings; of speliologists; of spelunkers; of students; and of Subiaco, Italy.

Prayer to St. Benedict

Glorious Saint Benedict, sublime model of virtue, pure vessel of God's grace! Behold me humbly kneeling at your feet. I implore you in your loving kindness to pray for me before the throne of God. To you I have recourse in the dangers that daily surround me. Shield me against my selfishness and my indifference to God and to my neighbor. Inspire me to imitate you in all things. May your blessing be with me always, so that I may see and serve Christ in others and owrk for His kingdom. Graciously obtain for me from God those favors and graces which I need so much in the trials, miseries and afflictions of life. Your heart was always full of love, compassion and mercy toward those who were afflicted or troubled in any way. You never dismissed without consolation and assistance anyone who had recourse to you. I therefore invoke your powerful intercession, confident in the hope that you will hear my prayers and obtain for me the special grace and favor I earnestly implore. {mention your petition} Help me, great Saint Benedict, to live and die as a faithful child of God, to run in the sweetness of His loving will, and to attain the eternal happiness of heaven. Amen.

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