Benedict, St.

, the founder of the order of the Benedictin monks, was a native of Norcia, formerly an episcopal see in Umbria, and was born about the year 480. He was sent to Rome when he was very young, and there received the first part of his education. At fourteen years of age he was removed from thence to Sublaco, about forty miles distant. Here he lived a most retired life, and shut himself up in a cavern, where nobody knew any thing of him except St. Romanus, who, we are told, used to descend to him by a rope, and supply him with provisions; but being afterwards discovered by the monks of a neighbouring monastery, they chose him for their abbot. Their manners, however, not agreeing with those of Benedict, he returned to his solitude, whither many persons followed him, and put themselves under iiis direction, and in a short time he was enabled to build twelve monasteries. About the year 528, he retired to Mount Cassino, where idolatry was still prevalent, a temple of Apollo being erected there. He instructed the people in the adjacent country, and having converted them, broke the image of Apollo, and built two chapels on the mountain. Here he founded also a monastery, and instituted the order of his name, which in time became so famous, and extended over all Europe. It was here too that he composed his “Regula Monachorum,” which Gregory the Great speaks of as the most sensible and best written piece of that kind ever published. Authors are not agreed as to the place where Benedict died; some say at Mount Cassino, others affirm it to have been at Rome, when he was sent thither by pope Boniface. Nor is the year ascertained, some asserting it to have been in 542 or 543, and others in 547, but the calendar fixes the day on Saturday, March 25. St. Gregory the Great has written his life in the second book of his Dialogues, where he has given a long detail of his pretended miracles. Du Pin says, that the “Regula Monachorum” is the only genuine work of St. Benedict. There have been several editions of these rules. Several other tracts are, however, ascribed to him, as particularly a letter to St. Maurus; a sermon upon the decease of St. Maurus a sermon upon the passion of St. Placidus and his companions and a discourse “De ordine monasterii.1

1 Gen. Dict. Mosheim’s Eccl. Hist. Dupin. Cave, vol. I.~Butler’s Lives of the Saints.
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