Whether you’re already a fan of St. Benedict, or just jumping on the bandwagon to celebrate his feast day (July 11th), here are eight facts that you might not have known. Take these to your next party and dazzle all your friends.
St. Benedict is a twin!
Tradition states that he was twins with his sister, St. Scholastica, who was a religious sister. According to The Holy Twins, they were very close growing up, and after entering religious life, made it a priority to visit with each other once per year to catch up.
2. He escaped not one, but TWO assassination attempts
The first attempt was committed by monks who had begged St. Benedict to be their Abbott and found that they did not appreciate his strict rules. They poisoned wine in a chalice and presented it to him; when St. Benedict blessed the chalice before drinking, the chalice shattered. The second attempt was by a neighboring priest who was jealous of St. Benedict, so he brought over some poisoned bread. Knowing it was poisoned, St. Benedict called over a raven who frequently ate from his hand to take the bread somewhere where no one could eat it.
3. He’s known as the father of Western Monasticism
In Subiaco, he lead a community comprised of 12 different houses, separate from one another but joined together in community. When he went to Monte Cassino, he formed one large community, who lived, worked, ate, and prayed together. The monastery in Monte Cassino is where he wrote up his “Rule” – essentially a guide which helped govern the community and their way of living.
4. He was a hermit…temporarily
He lived alone in a small cave in the mountains near Subiaco for three years; his only contact with the outside world was when a neighboring monk would bring him food every few days.
5. He stressed the importance of 3 charisms: hospitality, community, and prayer
Monte Cassino was more than a monastery on a hill; it was a place of education, refuge, and a daily stop for the people who lived nearby. It was a center of influence, and attracted visitors from all around.
6. Ironically, we do not know much about him
St. Gregory wrote a book based on St. Benedict’s life, but it is not considered a strict biography, rather a character sketch. St. Gregory used testimonies from St. Benedict’s disciples to build a timeline of his life, and to piece together all the miracles that are attributed to him while he was alive, in order to present a proper account of St. Benedict and his work to the world.
7. Eggs Benedict was not named after him…
…but it should have been. Disappointing, I know.
8. There’s debate over where his remains are currently located.
Upon his death, he was buried alongside his sister in the Chapel at Monte Cassino, but some believe that during the seventh century, they were moved to France. According to Beneidctine historian, Lugi Tosti, there seems to be more evidence in favor of his relics remaining at Monte Cassino.