Category Archives: Benedictine saints & blesseds

St Rabanus Maurus Magnentius

St Rabanus Maurus presenting his work to Pope Gregory IVSaint Rabanus Maurus Magnentius (c. 780 – 4 February 856), as a Frankish Benedictine monk, the archbishop of Mainz in Germany and a theologian. In his spare time he authored the encyclopaedia De rerum naturis (On the Nature of Things) and treatises on education, grammar and  the Bible.
Rabanus was born of noble parents in Mainz. He was a professed monk having entered the Benedictine abbey at Fulda. He studied there under Alcuin. His academic career included the responsibility of being the “Praeceptor Germaniae,” or “the teacher of Germany.” That is, Rabanus is considered one of the most prominent teachers and writers of the Carolingian age.
The data of his ecclesiastical career shows that in 801 Rabanus was ordained deacon and in 814 ordained priest. After a series of disagreement and complaints about his work, he faced exile but in 822 was elected abbot of his abbey. In 847, Rabanus  succeeded Otgar as the archbishop of Mainz. He died at Winkel on the Rhine in 856.

Benedictine Martyrs

OSB MartyrsMonks and nuns are prime candidates in being martyrs for the Catholic Faith. Today, the Benedictine Congregation of St Ottilien (a missionary group of missionary monks) collectively honor those who shed their blood for Christ between the years of 1889 and 1954. Laying down one’s own life by accepting death bears witness to faith in Jesus Christ and His Church.

Many of these monks died in Asia and Africa.

Saint Maurus and Saint Placidus

Maurus and PlacidusBenedictines have today as the feast day of Saint Maurus and Saint Placidus, disciples of Saint Benedict. What sticks out in peoples minds about Maurus is the relation he has with Benedict’s impressive miracles. The miracle is recounted by Pope Saint Gregory the Great in chapter 7 of the Second Book of his Dialogues:

“On a certain day, as the venerable Benedict was in his cell, the young Placidus, one of the Saint’s monks, went out to draw water from the lake; and putting his pail into the water carelessly, fell in after it. The water swiftly carried him away, and drew him nearly a bowshot from the land. Now the man of God, though he was in his cell, knew this at once, and called in haste for Maurus, saying: ‘Brother Maurus, run, for the boy who went to the lake to fetch water, has fallen in, and the water has already carried him a long way off!’

What does the miraculous gesture of Saint Benedict show us?  The raising of Placidus challenges what we typically believe about truth and reality and our disordered desire to be constantly in control. Benedict tells us that we are not in control –only God is. The ordering of our human desires requires us to be in alignment with God’s Holy Will. This episode also illustrates Benedict’s point in the monastic tradition and spoken of in the Rule of mutual obedience –the listening to each other and the following the lead of the superior. On one level mutual obedience teaches a fraternal reliance on one another; on a higher level, mutual obedience is a distinct form of listening to the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is manifests Himself in the discerning and holy activity of people who have their hearts and minds attuned to God’s Voice.

Blessed Jutta of Disibodenberg

Until I read somewhere else today, I never heard of Blessed Jutta of Disibodenberg (c. 1084-1136), a German noble woman, an anchoress, and the teacher of children, especially Saint Hildegaard of Bingen.

Blessed Jutta’s history says that taught female students from wealthy families at her hermitage. She taught and raised them all, most notably the child Hildegard of Bingen.

Jutta was known for her sanctity and her life of extraordinary penance; Justta was known as a healer.

On the Day of All Saints, November 1, 1112, Hildegard was given over as a Benedictine oblate into the care of Jutta. It was Jutta who taught Hildegard to write; to read the psalms used in the Liturgy;  to chant the recitation of the Canonical hours. She probably also taught Hildegard to play the zither-like string instrument called the psaltery.

Saint Hildegaard of Bingen, succeeded Jutta as abbess; Benedict XVI named Hildegard a Doctor of the Church and we would make the claim that she owes her fundamental knowledge of life to Blessed Jutta. Let us pray for those who were our first teachers of life and faith.

Itala Mela named Blessed by Pope

Itala MelaWe have a new Benedictine oblate Blessed!
 
Today, Pope Francis and the Congregation of Saints approved of the miracle attributed to the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God Itala Mela.
 
The new Blessed was a Benedictine Oblate of the Abbey of Saint Paul outside the Walls (Rome). She was in La Spezia (Italy) on 28 August 1904 and died on 29 April 1957.
 
Itala also went by the name of Sister Maria of the Trinity.
 
Mela’s particular mission was to make the Holy Trinity known and loved. Dom Aldo Piccinelli, OSB, wrote a book on Mela’s teaching, The Spiritual Experience of Itala Mela: A life incandescently immersed in the Trinity (2015).
 
Thanks be to God for the gift of new Blessed from among the Benedictine Oblates!

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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