‘Bene’t’ is short for Benedict. St Benedict was born around 480 in Nursia, a town in the central Italian region of Umbria. As a young man, he studied in Rome, but the corruption he saw all around him led him to withdraw from urban life and live as a hermit at Subiaco. The holiness of his life soon attracted the attention of others, and he was asked to become abbot of a local monastery. Not all of the monks, however, welcomed the arrival of a new and more rigorous abbot, and a disaffected group tried to poison him. Their attempt was unsuccessful, but Benedict still moved away, and established other small monasteries in the local area, before settling in Monte Cassino, where he wrote his Rule for monks and founded the monastery where he would live until the end of his life. It is unlikely that Benedict intended to found a religious order, but the wisdom of his Rule, which was written out of his own experience of fallible people seeking to live out the gospel, meant that it was widely followed. Some 1500 years later, it still shapes the lives of religious communities throughout the world.
In his Rule, Benedict tells his monks and nuns that their way is ora et labora (prayer and work), and that the vows of stability, conversion, and obedience are their commitments.
Benedict died in about 550. He is honoured as the father of western monasticism, and his wisdom and holiness remain fresh today.
Pray for us Benedict, pray for us all saints of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.