10 February 2010

Saint Scholastica

10 FEBRUARY 2010. Today the Church celebrates the memorial of Saint Scholastica, the twin sister of Saint Benedict and a nun who is, herself, the patron saint of nuns.

Nearly all that the Church knows today of Saint Scholastica comes from the Dialogues of Saint Gregory the Great. Saint Scholastica was born in Nursia, Italy in A.D. 480. As a nun, Saint Scholastica led a community of women in Plombariola, about five miles away from Saint Benedict's abbey at Monte Cassino. Although it is unknown what rule Saint Scholastica's community followed, it is believed by scholars that she followed the rule of her brother, Saint Benedict. So, Saint Scholastica is often referred to as the first Benedictine nun.

Tradition tells that Saint Scholastica was a faithful and holy youth. In fact, some accounts say that Saint Scholastica developed in holiness ahead of Saint Benedict.

As for an adult relationship between the sibblings Scholastica and Benedict, it is said that the two would visit with each other once a year outside of Saint Benedict's abbey. They would spend their time together engaged in prayer and in discussion of sacred texts and other sacred things.

One of the most well known accounts of Saint Scholastica's life is as follows: At the end of the day on the last of her annual visits with her brother, Saint Benedict, he insisted that it was time to leave to return to his cell. Scholastica asked him to stay through the night to continue their discussion, but Benedict refused. So, Saint Scholastica bowed her head in prayer (some accounts say she wept aloud) and, before long, a fierce windstorm assaulted the world outside their door. Saint Benedict asked, what have you done. Saint Scholastica replied, you said you would not leave. So I prayerdto my God for you to stay. Go on now, she said, if you can. Of course, the fierceness of the storm prevented Saint Benedict from leaving and they spent the night in discussion.

Then, according to Saint Gregory's Dialogues, three days later Saint Benedict, from his cell, saw his sister's soul rising to heaven in the form of a shining white dove.

Saint Scholastica's earthly remains were buried in a tomb that Saint Benedict had prepared for himself. Saint Benedict also made provision for his remains to be buried with those of his sister, which was at least initially done in accord with his wishes.

In art Saint Scholastica is often depicted as a nun in a habit, holding a crosier and a crucifix, or with a dove.


Spirit of the living God,
You continue to bless us with loving-kindness.
As Saint Scholastica prayed faithfully,
teach us to turn to You in our need.
As her soul was ready to fly into the sun like a dove,
may we be blest with a zest for life.
May we nurture the Benedictine values
among the people we meet.
We ask this through Jesus, the Christ
both now and forever.


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