St Benedict.jpgOn the eve of the Solemnity of Saint Benedict, it is good to think with what the various popes have said about this famous and holy monk, Saint Benedict:


After his pious death, when the holy Patriarch went to heaven, the Order of monks he founded was far from failing or collapsing; rather, it seemed not only to be over nourished and strengthened by his living example, but also to be supported and vivified by his heavenly patronage, so that it went on increasing year by year. (Pope Pius XII, 1947)

When darkness seemed to be spreading over Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire, he brought the light of dawn to shine upon this continent. For with the cross, the book and the plow, Christian civilization was carried, principally through him and his disciples, to the peoples who lived in those lands which stretch from the Mediterranean to Scandinavia and from Ireland to Poland. (Pope Paul VI, Naming St. Benedict co-patron of Europe, 1964)

At the heart of St. Benedict’s monastic experience is a simple, typically Christian principle, which the monk adopts in all its radicalness: to unify one’s life around the primacy of God. This “tenere in unum”, the first, fundamental condition for entering monastic life, must be the commitment unifying the life of the individual and the community, and be expressed in the “conversatio morum” which is fidelity to a life-style lived concretely in daily obedience. The search for Gospel simplicity requires continual examination, that is, the effort “to do the truth”, by constantly returning to the initial gift of the divine call which is at the root of one’s own religious experience. (Pope John Paul II, 1999, 1500th anniversary of the founding of Subiaco)

…with his life and work St. Benedict exercised a fundamental influence on the development of European civilization and culture” and helped Europe to emerge from the dark night of history” that followed the fall of the Roman Empire.  (Pope Benedict XVI, Wednesday, 9 April 2008)