Benedict of Nursia
Widely venerated as the "Father of Western Monasticism," St. Benedict of Nursia wrote a monastic rule that has been followed continuously by monks in the West since his repose in the sixth century. His Life was first recorded by St. Gregory the Dialogist, pope of Rome, in his famous Dialogues.
St. Benedict was born at Nursia, in Italy, around 470 A.D. Sent to school in Rome, he soon fled the worldliness of life in the city, abandoning his secular studies to become a monk. Although he first lived with a "company of virtuous men," soon a miracle he performed attracted attention. He fled once again and took up residence in a mountain cave at Subiaco, near the site of a villa built by Nero. Here he lived in continual prayer and asceticism for three years. Eventually, God allowed his fame to spread once again, and he was asked by a nearby community of monks to become their abbot. The saint reluctantly agreed but eventually returned to his cave because of the resistance of the monks to his spiritual guidance. Gradually, however, individuals began to come to live near him at Subiaco, and in the end he built twelve monasteries for these spiritual children, living himself at a thirteenth. St. Gregory notes a tradition that St. Benedict had a sister, St. Scholastica, who became a nun at one of his communities, and a famous story has her praying for a rainstorm on one occasion so as to enjoy more time in spiritual fellowship with her brother. After receiving the Holy Mysteries, St. Benedict reposed in the oratory of his monastery, his arms lifted in prayer.