Life of St. Benedict of Nursia

Saint Benedict of Nursia was a Catholic monk who, according to legend, founded a monastery in Montecassino in Central Italy, and whose Rule was eventually spread throughout Europe with the support of the Pope and the emperor. The monks became to be known as Benedictines, and the Order of Saint Benedict became the oldest monastic order in Western Christianity.

Benedict's life is limited by the years 470-547, and the year of his birth is a mere conjecture. He was born in Nursia in Central Italy into a burgher’s family. He was sent to Rome to study liberal arts. However, he was disappointed by the debaucherous city and he took shelter in solitude in Subiaco, where he lived for three years. He became friends with monk Romanus from a nearby monastery, who supplied him with bread and introduced him to the practical fulfillment of asceticism. After a while, the monks of the Vicovaro community asked him to become their abbot. He agreed, but the monks eventually rejected his strict asceticism and tried to poison him. Legend goes that Benedict blessed a goblet of poisoned wine and it shattered. That's how he avoided being poisoned.

At the foot of the mountain in Montecassino, Benedict founded a monastery in 529, where he put his religious rules into practice. He created a community there, in which he worked as an abbot until his death. Not many written records about Saint Benedict’s life survived, and two sources describing his life are generally accepted. The first is the work of Pope Gregory the Great’s Dialogues (593–594), which depicts him as a saint and a creator of 40 miracles. The second source of Benedict's life is precisely his Rule.