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Benedict (c.480 - c.550)

Synopsis

BENEDICT OF NURSIA, b. in 480, at Nursia, in the province of Valeria; d. March 21, 543, at Monte Casino; was educated in Rome, but fled from the city in 494, only fourteen years old, disgusted at the worldliness and confusion, both of the students and the studies, and retired first to Enfide (the old Anfidena, the present Alfidena), and then farther east, among the mountains, to Subiago, in order to perfect himself in holiness by a life of seclusion and devotion. At Subiago he met with a monk, Romanus, who encouraged him in his purpose, and aided him in carrying it out. lie took up his abode at the bottom of a dismal cavern; and here he spent the time in holy contemplations, and fighting the temptations of the flesh, provided with food by Romanus, who, by means of a rope, lowered down to hini daily a part of his own scanty ration. After the lapse of three years (in 497) he was discovered by some shepherds, who first shrank back from him as from a wild animal, but soon recognized the signs of a holy life in the apparition, and prostrated themselves before him. Others were attracted. Gradually lie was drawn out of this utter seclusion; and in 510 the monks of the Monastery of Vicovaro chose him their abbot. At this time he seems to have abandoned the austere asceticism which he originally professed; for he allowed his monks to drink wine. But the unconditional obedience he demanded, and the strict regularity which he enforced in the hourly alternation of devotional practices and manual labor, exasperated them; and they tried to poison him. He left the monastery, and returned to the cavern; but the world's eye was once set upon him, as upon a light lit in the darkness. Much people gathered around him, - delicate youths of rich families, old roughs from the Gothic hordes, - to obtain his guidance to a holy life. He organized minor communities of twelve monks under an abbot, and established twelve such ceniobies in the neighborhood of Subiago, constituting himself supreme abbot. But new troubles arose. Though monastic life was still a wild-growing plant, without any clearly defined mission, without any thoroughly developed organization, and consequently liable to fall into the most singular aberrations, it was, nevertheless, to all men's eyes, the highest expression of the religious cravings of the age. To enter a monastery was considered the only true conversio, to live in a monastery, the only true religio. Hence arose a bitter jealousy from the side of the secular clergy towards the monks. A priest from the neighborhood of Subiago, Florentius, actually tried to poison Benedict; and, when this failed, he attempted to seduce the monks by sensual temptations. Benediet then determined to leave the place; and in 528 he led his little army into Campania, to Monte Casino, where he transformed an old Apollo temple, with its adjacent grove, into a Christian oratory iii the centre of a circle of cenobies. In 529 he promulgated his famous rules, which were destined to be, through many centuries, the rules of all the monasteries of the Western Church., The monastery of Monte Casino grew rapidly, and was soon able to send out colonies. In 550 it was destroyed by the Lombards, the monks fleeing to Rome, and it was not rebuilt until 720; but in the mean time (in 633) a French monk, Aiguif, dug up the bones of Benedict, and carried them to France, where they were deposited in a monastery near Fleury, - a circumstance, which, however, does not prevent the present monks of Monte Casino to exhibit the bones of the founder of their order, together with a bull of Urban II., condemning all who doubt the genuineness of the exhibit.

Philip Schaff, ed., A Religious Encyclopaedia or Dictionary of Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal, and Practical Theology, 3rd edn, Vol. 1. Toronto, New York & London: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1894. pp.240-241.

Primary Sources

On-line Resource The Holy Rule of St. Benedict (Christian Classics Ethereal Library)
On-line Resource The Rule of Benedict (Christian Classics Ethereal Library)
Book or monograph Rule of Saint Benedict in EnglishTimothy Fry, translator, Rule of Saint Benedict in English. Liturgical Press, 1982. Pbk. ISBN: 0814612725. pp.96. {Amazon.com}

Secondary Sources

Book or monograph Adalbert: The Life of St BenedictD.V. Adalbert, The Life of St Benedict. St Bede's Publications, 1993. Pbk. ISBN: 0932506771. pp.186. {Amazon.com}
Article in Journal or Book Andre Borias, "The Spiritual Dynamism of St. Benedict," American Benedictine Review 46.3 (1995): 271-282.
Article in Journal or Book Maria Boulding, ."Prayer and the Paschal Mystery According to Saint Benedict," Downside Review 94.4 (1976): 276-286.
Article in Journal or Book John C. Cavadini, "A Note on Gregory's Use of Miracles in The Life and Miracles of St. Benedict," American Benedictine Review 49.1 (1998): 104-120.
Book or monograph Pope Gregory the Great, Life and Miracles of St Benedict. The Liturgical Press, 1986. Pbk. ISBN: 0814603211. pp.87. {Amazon.com}
Article in Journal or Book Jean Gribomont, "Prayer in Eastern Monasticism and in Saint Benedict," Word and Spirit 2 (1981): 3-22.
Article in Journal or Book Adrian Hastings, "The Contribution of St Benedict to European Civilization," Downside Review 114(394) (1996): 56-69.
Book or monograph Basil Hume, In Praise of St Benedict. St Bede's Publications. Pbk. SBN: 0932506933. pp.88. {Amazon.com}
Article in Journal or Book J.E. Lawyer, "Longing that Loss in the Life of St. Benedict According to Gregory the Great," American Benedictine Review 54.1 (2003): 72-95.
Article in Journal or Book Jean Lecleroq, ."Violence and the Devotion to St. Benedict in the Middle Ages," Downside Review 88(293) (1970): 344-360.
Article in Journal or Book Jean Lecleroq, "The Problem of Social Class and Christology in Saint Benedict," Word and Spirit 2 (1981): 33-51.
Article in Journal or Book Malachy Marrion, "St. Benedict: Listening, Conversion and Constant Prayer," Studies in Formative Spirituality 5.2 (1984): 209-211.
Article in Journal or Book Andrew Nugent, "Benedict: A Sense of Prayer," American Benedictine Review 50.2 (1999): 149-160.
Article in Journal or Book Adalbert de Vogue, "Benedict, Model of the Spiritual Life (according to the Second Book of the Dialogues of St. Gregory," Word and Spirit 2 (1981): 59-72.

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