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3/27/2016

SPECIAL - Apr. 5 Tuesday Mass 10:00 am

For the feast of Saint Benedict moved to this date from March 21.

Summary of the Life of Saint Benedict. St. Benedict of Nursia, Italy. Born at Nursia, c. 480 AD; died at Monte Cassino, Italy, 543 AD. Benedict was author/compiler of a Rule for monks. Benedict’s Rule became the foundation of western monasticism.

If you have a mental image from history class of ancient monks copying books by hand, teaching the local population to read, spreading the Gospel among pagan tribes across Europe, and preserving the light of civilization through the Dark Ages, you have a fairly accurate picture. And you can put a name to most of those monks, they were Benedictines.

Fall of Rome, Foundations of a New Civilization. Flavius Romulus Augustus, the last Roman emperor was removed in 476 AD by the barbarian chief Odoacer. This date is used as the official end of the 1,000-year existence of the Roman Empire. With the decay of the Roman Empire, Europe saw the collapse of civilization. It was also into this world that Benedict was born.

Wealthy Family and Good Education. Benedict and his sister, St. Scholastica, came from a wealthy family in the beautiful mountainous region of Nursia, 75 miles northeast of Rome. Perhaps to put the great antiquity of Benedict’s work in perspective with the other great religious orders, St. Francis of Assisi was born in the same region about 700 years after St. Benedict.

Benedict was well-educated in Rome where, after a religious experience probably in his late teens or early 20s, he withdrew from the fast-paced and deteriorating remnants of the Roman world around him.

At Monte Cassino, the Abbey. After extensive experience as abbot of the monasteries Benedict founded near Subiaco, Italy, Benedict made his final major move in 529 AD — to the hill above the town of Cassino (70 miles southeast of Rome).   There Benedict established the abbey of Monte Cassino which is recognized as the heart and founding center of Benedictine monasticism.

Once established at Monte Cassino, St. Benedict never left it.

Abbey of Monte Cassino and the Rule.   While at Monte Cassino Abbey, in about 530 Benedict wrote and compiled the Rule. Its influence spread over all Western monasticism.  It seems clear that Benedict was used by God in a way to help build a new civilization after the fall of the Roman Empire.

St. Benedict’s contribution was his famous Rule by which monks could live together successfully in prayer and work in the Lord’s service. His ability to create a balance in living the full Christian life has not been surpassed. His insight into the weakness of people as well as their longing to grow closer to God came from a man who had, himself, been close to the Glory of God.