Benedict of Nursia

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Monte Cassino Abbey, with his burial
Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire, near Orléans, France

Saint Benedict of Nursia (Italian: San Benedetto da Norcia) (480–547) is a Christian saint, honored by the Roman Catholic Church as the patron saint of Europe and students.

Benedict founded twelve communities for monks at Subiaco, about 40 miles (64 km) to the east of Rome, before moving to Monte Cassino in the mountains of southern Italy. There is no evidence that he intended to found a religious order. The Order of St Benedict is of later origin and, moreover, not an "order" as commonly understood but merely a confederation of autonomous congregations.[1]

Benedict's main achievement is his "Rule", containing precepts for his monks. It is heavily influenced by the writings of John Cassian, and shows strong affinity with the Rule of the Master. But it also has a unique spirit of balance, moderation and reasonableness (ἐπιείκεια, epieikeia), and this persuaded most religious communities founded throughout the Middle Ages to adopt it. As a result, the Rule of Benedict became one of the most influential religious rules in Western Christendom. For this reason Benedict is often called the founder of western Christian monasticism.

Contents

Biography

Apart from a short poem, attributed to Mark of Monte Cassino, the only ancient account of Benedict is found in the second volume of Pope Gregory I's four-book Dialogues, thought to have been written in 593. The authenticity of this work has been hotly disputed, especially by Dr Francis Clarke in his two volume work "The Pseudo-Gregorian Dialogues". Book Two consists of a prologue and thirty-eight succinct chapters.[2]

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