Benedict was born in 480 A.D. to a well-off family in central Italy. From an early age, he was drawn to monasticism. At first, he tried living as a hermit in a small town outside Rome, but then decided to live in a cave for three years — completely cut off from society.
After trying to live with a group of monks (it didn’t work out and they tried to poison him), he moved back to his cave. But a neighboring priest tried to poison him (again), and he decided to leave. He was miraculously saved from both poisoning incidents and is now venerated as the patron saint against poison.
Understanding how a community environment supported people called to monastic life, Benedict founded twelve monasteries in Italy and then Monte Cassino, one of the most famous monasteries in the world.
In his monasteries, Benedict implemented his ‘Rule’ — a book detailing the way of life for monks. Its ‘Golden Rule’ is ora et labora, which means, “pray and work.” Benedict’s rule emphasizes living humbly and obediently, how to do God’s work, how to live in community peacefully, and how to run a monastery. Monks living according to the rule devote eight hours to prayer, eight hours to sleep, and eight hours to manual work, daily. The Rule of Saint Benedict was so popular that it fueled the spreading of Western monasticism throughout Europe and is adhered to by many religious orders even today.
Benedict’s twin sister, Scholastica, is also a saint. He is the patron saint of Europe, monks, dying people, and much more.
Get to know this great saint through these traditional songs sung by monks to keep his ‘Rule’ in their daily lives today.