Prayer ought to be short and pure, unless it be prolonged by the inspiration of Divine grace -- Saint Benedict.

Introduction

Probably most well known for the Benedictine Rule - his rules for monastic life - St. Benedict was born in Narsia, Italy in around 480 C.E.. He died 67 years later, having spent a large portion of his life attempting to purify the monastic tradition.

Biography

Saint Benedict was born - along with a twin sister who became Saint Scholastica - to a noble Roman family. He studied in Rome, but around the age of 19, found himself becoming dismayed at the lack of discipline amongst the other students. First of all, he took his nurse as a servant, and moved from Rome to live quietly in Enfide. There, he performed his first miracle - perfectly repairing an earthenware seed sifter which had been broken by his servant. This act, however, drew unwanted attention. In order to escape, he left his servant and moved up into the Simbrucini mountains, where he lived the hermit's life. He was presented with supplies by Romanus, a monk he had met on his way to the mountains.

Despite his solitude, his principles did not go unnoticed, and three years after arriving in the mountains, on the death of the abbot of a local monastery, the community approached him to become their new leader. He knew the differences between his ideals and those of the community, but consented to take the role. Unfortunately, and as he had predicted, his rules were not received well and an attempt was made on his life - using a poisoned drink. Luckily, St. Benedict had blessed the cup and the poison had no effect.

Given his lack of popularity, he returned to his hermit's life. Around this time, the rate of miracles attributed to him increased significantly and followers began to flock around him, pariculary impressed with his sanctity and character. For these people, he founded twelve monasteries in the surrounding area. Each was built for twelve monks plus a superior. He also founded a thirteenth monastery in which he was the superior and lived with a few monks who he thought would most greatly benefit from his presence.

He remained father or abbot of all thirteen monasteries for the remainder of his days, and went on to found schools for children. It was during these years that he worked on, and perfected the Benedictine Rule under which many monasteries still function now.

Saint Benedict died in prayer from a fever on the 21st of March, 547. He was buried in the same tomb as his sister. After his death, his influence continued to spread resulting in a peak of around forty thousand monasteries following his rule at one time.

Achievements

According to reports in the second book of Saint Gregory's Dialogues, he had the ability to read consciences and prophesise and hinder attacks of the devil. Other achievements include destroying pagan altars and idols, and driving demons from pagan spaces.

He has a large patronage including such as: agricultural workers, coppersmiths, dying people, Europe, fever, monks, poison, schoolchildren, and terribly specifically, but understandably - servants who have broken their master's belongings.

Representation

Due to his attempted poisoning, he is often represented by a broken cup and serpent. Other representations include a bell, broken utensil, brush, crosier and a man in a Benedictine cowl holding a rod of discipline.


Sources:
http://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/saintb02.htm
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02467b.htm

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