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Saint Scholastica, Virgin, sister of Saint Benedict

“She who loved the most could do more”

The challenge was with Benedict of Nursia, and the winner was her twin sister, Scholastica, consecrated to the Lord from an early age. Having lived in the shadow of her brother, the father of Western monasticism, she was a faithful interpreter of her Rule.

Scholastica, the first Benedictine nun, who lived - it is presumed - between 480 and 543, a native of Norcia, was a very docile pupil of Benedict in learning the wisdom of the heart, to the point of defeating her master, as Saint Gregory the Great passes down in his Dialogues, the only reference text with few references to the life of this Saint, where an episode in particular is told, which reveals her strong human personality and spiritual depth.

Santa Scolastica 1
Santa Scolastica 3

The religious choice in the footsteps of his brother

According to what is reported, Scholastica, daughter of Eutropius, descendant of the ancient Roman senatorial family of the Anicii and of Claudia who died immediately after the twin birth, was sent at the age of 12 to Rome, together with her brother, both of whom were deeply troubled by the dissolute life that was led in that city.

Benedict was the first to retire into a hermit while Scholastica, who remained heir to the family heritage, revealing detachment from earthly goods, asked her father to be able to dedicate herself to religious life, first entering a monastery near Norcia and then moving to Subiaco, following her brother who had founded the Abbey of Montecassino.

Here, just 7 kilometers away, she founded the monastery of Piumarola, where together with her sisters she followed the Rule of Saint Benedict, giving rise to the female branch of the Benedictine Order.

Rule of silence

Scholastica used to recommend observing the rule of silence, and avoiding conversation with people outside the monastery, even if they were devout visitors.

He used to repeat: “Be silent or talk about God, for what thing in this world is so worthy that we need to talk about it?"

And about God, Scolastica loves to talk especially with her brother Benedetto, with whom she meets once a year. The place of these spiritual conversations is a small house halfway between the two monasteries.

The miracle that challenges Benedict

Gregory recounts that in the last of these meetings, dated 6 February 543, shortly before his death, Scholastica asked his brother to prolong the conversation until the following morning, but Benedict opposed it so as not to break theRule.

Scholastica then begged the Lord not to let her brother leave, bursting into tears: immediately afterwards an unexpected and violent storm forced Benedetto to stay, so the two brothers conversed all night. It should be noted that Benedict's first reaction to the sudden downpour was one of annoyance: “Almighty God forgive you, sister. What have you done?" And Scholastica replied: “See, I prayed to you, and he answered me.

Now go out, if you can; leave me and go back to the monastery." It is her sister's revenge that she could not displease her beloved brother, since he himself had taught her to turn in difficulties to the One to whom everything is possible. Here Scholastica's feminine qualities stand out, her sweetness, her constancy and also her audacity to obtain what she ardently desires.

In life and death united in God

Three days after this meeting - according to Gregory's story - Benedict received news of his sister's death from a divine sign: he saw his sister's soul ascending to Heaven in the form of a white dove.

He therefore wanted to bury her in the tomb he had prepared for himself and where he would also be buried shortly afterwards. “Just as their minds had always been united in God, in the same way their bodies were united in the same tomb.”

Whoever arrives today - after fifteen centuries of history - at the majestic abbey of Montecassino, will experience the emotion of finding themselves in front of the tomb of the Holy Brothers, who are at the origin of a large following of seekers of God.

source © Vatican News – Dicasterium pro Communicatione

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