Feast of St. Scholastica and St. Benedict of Nursia (February 10)   5 comments


Above:  Central Italy, 1945

Scanned from the Post-World War II Atlas Supplement to Hammond’s New Era Atlas of the World (1945)



Abbess of Plombariola

sister of


Abbot of Monte Cassino and Father of Western Monasticism

His feast transferred from July 11


I created the Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days in late July 2009.  At the time I was generally more likely than I am now to follow assigned feast days from official ecclesiastical authorities.  When I started the process of renovating the Ecumenical Calendar recently, I decided to combine certain feasts I had listed separately.  Thus I have merged the feasts of these two saints, a brother and a sister.

Sts. Scholastica and Benedict were foundational figures in Western Christian monasticism.  Unfortunately, few details of their lives have survived.  The twin siblings, natives of Nursia, came from a Christian family that was part of Roman nobility.  The parents dedicated St. Scholastica to God at an early age.  For a long time she lived at her parents’ home before becoming a nun.

St. Benedict became the Father of Western Monasticism.  He studied at Rome yet abandoned his studies to flee the immorality and amorality we encountered in the city.  At age 19 or 20 our saint, taking the elderly female servant who had raised him to Affile, joined a community of men attempting to lead a structured monastic life together.  Eventually he sent her home and spent the next three years as a hermit at Lake Subiaco.  During those years he contemplated rules for communal monastic life and developed a reputation for sanctity.  Then he became the central figure of a new monastic community.

Between 525 and 530 the community moved to Monte Cassino, between Rome and Naples.  Eventually St. Scholastica became the Abbess of Plombariola, a few miles from Monte Cassino.  Circa 540 St. Benedict completed the Rule of St. Benedict, which drew from extant monastic rules, directed life in thousands of abbeys, and influenced subsequent monastic rules.  St. Benedict provided a rigorous yet realistic set of guidelines; it combined work, prayer, and spiritual reading, as well as a balance between leadership by an abbot and the social equality of monastics.  Whereas some monks had mortified their flesh, denied themselves sufficient sleep, and ate too little, the Rule of St. Benedict prescribed enough food, eight hours of sleep, and a moderate variety of monasticism.  The influence of the Rule made Benedictine monasteries islands of learning and civilization during the Middle Ages.

Sts. Scholastica and Benedict met for a day each year for a number of years to discuss spiritual matters.  They did this until she died, in 543.  According to legend, St. Benedict, standing in his cell, saw a vision of his twin sister’s soul leading her body and rising to Heaven in the form of a dove.  He dispatched some monks to retrieve her corpse and bring it to Monte Cassino, where he buried her beneath the high altar.  A few years later St. Benedict’s body rested in the same tomb also.





O God, by whose grace your servants St. Scholastica and St. Benedict of Nursia,

kindled with the flame of your love, became a burning and a shining light in your Church:

Grant that we may also be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline,

and walk before you as children of light;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Acts 2:42-47a

Psalm 133 or 34:1-8 or 119:161-168

Philippians 3:7-15

Luke 12:33-37 or Luke 9:57-62

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 723


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