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Saint Benedict

Benedict, Saint (bĕnˈədĭkt) [key], d. c.547, Italian monk, called Benedict of Nursia, author of a rule for monks that became the basis of the Benedictine order, b. Norcia (E of Spoleto). He went to Rome to study, then withdrew to Subiaco to live as a hermit; after three years he was renowned for his holiness. He founded a community of monks made up of cells of 13 monks each. This he eventually left, and at Monte Cassino, in an old pagan holy place, he started the first truly Benedictine monastery, although the benedictine order did not come into being until Carolingian times. The fruits of Benedict's experience appear in the Rule of St. Benedict (in Latin), which became the chief rule in Western monasticism under the Carolingians. The Cistercians also follow the Rule of Saint Benedict. The Rule's 73 chapters are full of a spirit of moderation and common sense. They set forth the central ideas of Benedictine monasticism. St. Benedict's sister, St. Scholastica, also was a religious. Feast: Mar. 21.

See St. Gregory I, Life and Miracles of St. Benedict (tr. by O. J. Zimmerman and B. R. Avery, 1969); The Rule of Saint Benedict (tr. by A. C. Meisel and M. L. del Mastro, 1975); D. Knowles, Great Historical Enterprises (1963); O. Chadwick, The Making of the Benedictine Ideal (1981).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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