Friday, February 10, 2017

Saint Scholastica of Nursia, Sister of Saint Benedict

St. Scholastica of Nursia (Feast Day - February 10)

All that we know about Saint Scholastica comes from Saint Gregory the Dialogist (Dialogues, Bk. 2, Chs. 33-34). We learn that she was the twin sister of Saint Benedict (Mar. 14), born around 480 in Nursia of Italy, and she was consecrated to God at an early age. Under her brother’s direction, she founded and governed a large convent near Monte Casino outside Plombariola, about five miles south. They were very close, and each year she would meet with her brother to discuss spiritual matters, which ended in the evening with a frugal meal together. This meeting would take place in a little house situated between his monastery and hers. The reason for this is because women were not permitted in his monastery, and men were not permitted in hers. She died about the year 543. Saint Benedict had her body placed in the tomb he had prepared for himself and made arrangement for his own body to also be placed there after his repose.

Below is the account of Saint Gregory, which is in the form of a dialogue:


PETER: Tell me, I beseech you, whether holy men can do all such things as they please, and obtain at God's hands whatsoever they desire.

GREGORY: Who is there, Peter, in this world, that is in greater favor with God than St. Paul? Three times he petitioned our Lord to be delivered from the thorn of the flesh, and yet he did not obtain his petition. Speaking of that, I must tell you how there was one thing which the venerable father Benedict would have liked to do, but he could not.

His sister, named Scholastica, was dedicated from her infancy to our Lord. Once a year she came to visit her brother. The man of God went to her not far from the gate of his monastery, at a place that belonged to the Abbey. It was there he would entertain her. Once she came to visit according to her custom, and her venerable brother with his monks went there to meet her.

They spent the whole day in the praises of God and spiritual talk, and when it was almost night, they dined together. As they were yet sitting at the table, talking of devout matters, it began to get dark. The holy Nun, his sister, entreated him to stay there all night that they might spend it in discoursing of the joys of heaven. By no persuasion, however, would he agree to that, saying that he might not by any means stay all night outside of his Abbey.

At that time, the sky was so clear that no cloud was to be seen. The Nun, hearing this denial of her brother, joined her hands together, laid them on the table, bowed her head on her hands, and prayed to almighty God.


Lifting her head from the table, there fell suddenly such a tempest of lightning and thundering, and such abundance of rain, that neither venerable Benedict, nor his monks that were with him, could put their heads out of doors. The holy Nun, having rested her head on her hands, poured forth such a flood of tears on the table, that she transformed the clear air to a watery sky.

After the end of her devotions, that storm of rain followed; her prayer and the rain so met together, that as she lifted up her head from the table, the thunder began. So it was that in one and the very same instant that she lifted up her head, she brought down the rain.

The man of God, seeing that he could not, in the midst of such thunder and lightning and great abundance of rain return to his Abbey, began to be heavy and to complain to his sister, saying: "God forgive you, what have you done?" She answered him, "I desired you to stay, and you would not hear me; I have desired it of our good Lord, and he has granted my petition. Therefore if you can now depart, in God's name return to your monastery, and leave me here alone."


But the good father, not being able to leave, tarried there against his will where before he would not have stayed willingly. By that means, they watched all night and with spiritual and heavenly talk mutually comforted one another.

Therefore, by this we see, as I said before, that he would have had one thing, but he could not effect it. For if we know the venerable man's mind, there is no question but that he would have had the same fair weather to have continued as it was when he left his monastery. He found, however, that a miracle prevented his desire. A miracle that, by the power of almighty God, a woman's prayers had wrought. Is it not a thing to be marveled at, that a woman, who for a long time had not seen her brother, might do more in that instance than he could? She realized, according to the saying of St. John, "God is love" [1 John 4:8]. Therefore, as is right, she who loved more, did more.

PETER: I confess that I am wonderfully pleased with what you tell me.


GREGORY: The next day the venerable woman returned to her monastery, and the man of God to his abbey. Three days later, standing in his cell, and lifting up his eyes to heaven, he beheld the soul of his sister (which was departed from her body) ascend into heaven in the likeness of a dove.

Rejoicing much to see her great glory, with hymns and praise he gave thanks to almighty God, and imparted the news of her death to his monks. He sent them presently to bring her corpse to his Abbey, to have it buried in that grave which he had provided for himself. By this means it fell out that, as their souls were always one in God while they lived, so their bodies continued together after their deaths.





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