March 14

From the Prologue

Benedict was born in Nursia [Norcia] a province in Italy, in the year 480 A.D., of wealthy and distinguished parents. He did not remain long in school for he alone saw that because of lack of knowledge one can lose "the great understanding of his soul." He left school "an unlearned wise man and an understanding fool." He retreated to a monastery where he was tonsured by the monk Romanus after which he withdrew to a steep mountain where he remained in a cave for more than three years in a great struggle over his soul. Romanus brought him bread and lowered it down the steep mountain on a rope to the opening of the cave. When Benedict became known in the vicinity and in order to retreat from the glory of man, he withdrew from this cave. He was merciless toward himself. Once, when an unclean and raging passion of the flesh seized him, he removed all his clothes and rolled around naked in the thorns until he repelled every thought of a woman. God endowed him with many spiritual gifts: he discerned thoughts; he healed; he expelled evil spirits; he raised the dead; he appeared to some openly; and to others who were distant, he appeared in dreams. At one time, Benedict perceived that the glass of wine served to him was poisoned. When he made the sign of the cross over it, the glass burst. In the beginning he established twelve monasteries and in all of them, he placed twelve monks each. Later on, he founded the special order of the Benedictines which exists even today in the Roman Church. On the sixth day before his death, he ordered that his grave which had been prepared earlier be opened for the saint foresaw that his end was near. He assembled all the monks, counseled them and then gave up his soul to the Lord whom he had faithfully served in poverty and in purity. Scholastica, his sister by birth, lived in a convent and looking up to her brother, she greatly mortified herself and reached a high state of spiritual perfection. When St. Benedict gave up his soul, two monks, one traveling on the road and one at prayer in a far away cell, simultaneously saw the same vision. They saw a path extending from earth to heaven, covered with a precious woven fiber and illuminated on both sides by rows of men. At the head of the path, there stood a man of indescribable beauty and light who said to them that this path was prepared for Benedict, favored by God. As a result of this vision, these two brothers learned that their good abbot departed from this world. He died peacefully in the year 543 A.D. and entered into the eternal Kingdom of Christ the King.

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St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas