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Feb 10 – St Scholastica (480-543)

10 February, 2012

Summary: St Scholastica, Virgin Born at Norcia (Italy) about 480;  died near Monte Cassino in the 540s. Like St Benedict, her twin brother, she dedicated herself to God through her monastic life. Noted for her part in establishing Benedictine monasticism.

Ss Scholastica and BenedictEverything we know about Scholastica and her (traditionally: twin-) brother St Benedict comes from the Dialogues of St Gregory the Great. The tradition that she was herself a nun dates from the 11th century.

Patrick Duffy recounts the traditions about her.

Twin-sister of St Benedict
Born at Norcia in Umbria, the sister of St Benedict, the later tradition is that she consecrated herself to God from her earliest years and remained at home with her father, while Benedict went to Rome for his education.

When Benedict was at Subiaco, Scholastica may have been at a monastery nearby. At any rate when Benedict moved to Monte Cassino, she may have have founded and supervised a nunnery at Plombariola (five miles south of Monte Cassino). Scholastica used to visit her brother once a year, meeting in a house outside his monastery.

Scholastica.1jpgTheir Last Meeting
In the last meeting, Scholastica, sensing that she was nearing death, begged her brother to stay the night in order to prolong their discussion of “the joys of heaven”. He refused, citing his obedience to the Rule. Scholastica bowed her head in prayer and such a violent storm broke out that Benedict and his companions could not leave the house.
God forgive you, sister,” he said, “what have you done?”
“I asked you a favour and you refused it,”
she replied. “I asked it of God and he granted it.”

So God saw to it that the Rule yielded to human need. Three days later she died.

Burial Together
ack in his monastery, Benedict saw her soul rising to heaven in the form of a dove. He sent some monks to fetch her body and had it buried in a tomb prepared for himself. Some time later, he died and was buried beside her.

Montecassino, crypt with the remains of St. Benedict and his sister St. Scholastica

Montecassino, crypt with the remains of Ss. Benedict and his sister, Scholastica