Monday, October 25, 2021

Saint Benedict of Nursia, Abbot – Feast Day – July 11

Benedict of Nursia was also known as Benedetto da Norcia. He was a monk and an abbot born on March 2 480 AD in Norcia, Umbria, Italy, and died on March 21 547 AD at the age of 67 years in Monte Cassino, Italy. His feast day is celebrated on July 11 in the Catholic Church.

Saint Benedict of Nursia Biography
Saint Benedict of Nursia
Date of Birth March 2 480 AD
Place of Birth Norcia, Umbria, Italy
Profession Monk, Abbot
Place of Work Subiaco, Lazio and Monte Cassino, Italy
Date of Death March 21 547 AD
Place of Death Monte Cassino, Italy
Feast Day July 11
Canonization By Pope Honorius III in 1220, in Rome, Papal States

Saint Benedict of Nursia Life History

The life and times of St Benedict of Nursia can be found in the books where Pope Gregory I wrote his around the year 593 AD. Pope Gregory I says that St Benedict was a very gentle, disciplined, and pious abbot. He was a miracle worker as witnessed by his disciples namely; Constantinus, Honoratus, Valentinianus, and Simplicius.

St Benedict was born in a noble family in Nursia, (in the modern-day it is called Norcia), in Umbria, Italy. His twin sister is called Scholastica. He went to study in Rome but in around 500 AD, he abandoned his studies halfway because he was disappointed by the sinful and unholy life in the city of Rome. He took a servant with him and went to live in Enfide (now known as Affile) in the Simbruini mountains near Subiaco.

In the mountains, he met a monk called Romanus of Subiaco who introduced him to the hermit life. Benedict lived in a cave, just above a lake, for three years in solitude except for the regular visits by Romanus who brought him food and supplies.

After these three years in solitude, he matured in body soul, and mind and became well known, loved and respected by the people in the area as well as other monks in neighbouring monasteries.

After the death of the abbot of the monastery in the neighbourhood, the community there begged him to become the abbot. But St Benedict was very aware of the extravagant lifestyle among the monks and that his lifestyle would clash with theirs. No sooner had he started his administration of that monastery than he started to gain enemies there.

At one time, one of the disgruntled monks put poison in St Benedict’s drink. When prayed before drinking, the bowl broke into pieces. He left that monastery and returned to his cave.

In another incidence, there was a priest in that area called Florentius who tried to poison St Benedict with poisoned bread. As was his habit, he prayed before eating, and immediately a crow flew by and scooped that bread away.

These miracles, sanctity, and character attracted many people to St Benedict for guidance and instructions. Envy took a toll on the priest Florentius who wanted to destroy St Benedict. He sent some prostitutes to seduce Benedict’s monks, but to avoid many temptations he left Subiaco at around 530 AD.

After leaving Subiaco, St Benedict founded 12 other monasteries including the Benedictine monastery of Monte Cassino which is found on a hilltop between Rome and Naples.

In another incidence, St Benedict gained much respect from Totila, King of the Goths who was invading Italy. Totila had ordered one of his generals to wear his kingly robes, then go and see whether St Benedict will identify that impersonation. St Benedict identified that impersonation which made Totila come and pay him a courtesy call.

St Benedict wrote the rule of how monks should live together in the monastery and how they should relate with their abbot. He also wrote how to live a spiritual life and also how and who should administer and run a monastery. He instructs monks to be humble and obedient and how to resolve disputes amongst themselves. He outlined that every day, the monks should devout eight hours to prayer, eight hours to work, and eight hours to sleep.

St Benedict Medal has these features

On one side there is an image of Saint Benedict, holding a cross in his right hand and in his left hand, the Holy Rule. There is a cup on one of his sides and a raven on the other. Around the medal, it is written: “Eius in obitu nostro praesentia muniamur” (“May we be strengthened by his presence in the hour of our death”).

On the other side, there is a cross with the initials CSSML meaning “Crux Sacra Sit Mihi Lux” (“May the Holy Cross be my light”). The initials NDSMD for “Non-Draco Sit Mihi Dux” (“Let not the dragon be my guide”) are written on the horizontal bar.

Located on the interior angles of the cross are the initials CSPB which stand for “Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti” (“The Cross of the Holy Father Benedict”). Sometimes you may find the word “PAX” (Peace) or “IHS” at the top of the cross.

Around the medal’s outer margin there are initials VRSNSMV for “Vade Retro Satana, Nonquam Suade Mihi Vana” (“Begone Satan, do not suggest to me thy vanities”) then space and after that the initials SMQLIVB for “Sunt Mala Quae Libas, Ipse Venena Bibas” (“Evil are the things thou profferest, drink thou thy own poison”).

Influence and Legacy

In April 2008, Pope Benedict XVI reiterated that Saint Benedict of Nursia exercised a fundamental influence with his work and life on the development of European culture and civilization. He also said that St Benedict’s work and life helped Europe to emerge from the “dark night of history” that was brought about by the fall of the Roman empire. He was very instrumental to the rise of monasticism in the West and his Rule was used and is still being used, by thousands of religious congregations in the Middle Ages.

In modern times, we have two branches of the Benedictine family: The Cistercians and the Benedictine Federation.

In the 15th century, a basilica was built where St Benedict was born but on October 30 2016 a huge earthquake completely destroyed the basilica.

St Benedict’s Birth

He was born on March 2 480 AD in Norcia, Umbria, Italy, together with his twin sister Scholastica

St Benedict’s Death

St Benedict died on March 21 547 at Monte Cassino Monastery of a fever and was buried in the same place as his sister Scholastica.

St Benedict Feast Day

Before 1970 the feast of St Benedict was celebrated on March 21, the date of his death, but because of the observance of Lent, the memorial was moved to July 11.

Attributes

  • Raven
  • Man in a Benedictine cowl holding Benedict’s rule or a rod of discipline
  • Crosier
  • Bush
  • Broken utensil
  • Broken tray
  • Broken cup and serpent representing poison
  • Bell

St Benedict is the Patron Saint of

In 1964, Pope Paul VI named him the patron protector of Europe and Pope John Paul II, in 1980, declared him co-patron of Europe, together with Methodius and Cyril.

  • The Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest
  • Temptations
  • Spelunkers
  • Speleologists
  • Servants who have broken their master’s belongings
  • Schoolchildren and students
  • People in religious orders
  • Norcia, (Italy)
  • Nettle rash
  • Monks
  • Kidney disease
  • Italian architects
  • Inflammatory diseases
  • Heraldry and Officers of arms
  • Heerdt (Germany)
  • Gall stones
  • Fever
  • Farmers
  • Europe
  • Erysipelas
  • Dying people
  • Coppersmiths
  • Civil engineers
  • Cavers
  • Agricultural workers
  • Against witchcraft
  • Against poison

Today’s Catholic Quote:

“Behold not, O Lord, my sins, but the faith of this man, who desireth the life of his son, and restore to the body that soul which Thou hast taken away.”

Saint Benedict of Nursia
Saint Benedict of Nursia

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