Category Archives: Benedictine saints & blesseds

Blessed Maria Gabriella Sagheddu

SrMariaGabriellaToday, the Church honors a member of the Cistercian Order a blessed of the Church, an Italian nun, Blessed Maria Gabriella. A native of  Sardinia, Italy born in 1914. Blessed Maria Gabriella was known to be given to willfulness, stubbornness and anger as a child and adolescent, but a conversion at 18 turned her will toward virtue and the love of Jesus Christ. Then, at 21, she entered a Cistercian monastery near Rome where she lived the contemplative, hidden life of a Trappistine nun. In her era, she  likely knew nothing of the ‘ecumenical movement,’ at least not in any official way. In purity of heart –in a singular gesture– Sister Maria Gabriella offered her life for the Unity of the Church for all Christians.

In 1938, shortly after the offering of herself to the Lord, the symptoms of tuberculosis were diagnosed, and she died of this disease on April 23, 1939 (Good Shepherd Sunday), Her 15 months of suffering was an oblation.

On January 25, 1983, Pope John Paul II beatified her and named her patroness ‘of Unity’. She is a 20th century witness to our world that we have a responsibility for the restoration of the unity of Christians is the Love of Christ, personal conversion, sacrifice and prayer. 

Let us pray,

O God, eternal shepherd, who inspired Blessed Maria Gabriella, virgin, to offer her life for the unity of all Christians, grant that through her intercession, the day may be hastened in which all believers in Christ, gathered around the table of your Word and of your Bread, may praise you with one heart and one voice. Through Christ our Lord.

Saint Scholastica

Benedict and ScholasticaFrom the Dialogues by Saint Gregory the Great:

Scholastica, the sister of Saint Benedict, had been consecrated to God from her earliest years. She was accustomed to visiting her brother once a year. He would come down to meet her at a place on the monastery property, not far outside the gate.

One day she came as usual and her saintly brother went with some of his disciples; they spent the whole day praising God and talking of sacred things. As night fell they had supper together.

Their spiritual conversation went on and the hour grew late. The holy nun said to her brother: “Please do not leave me tonight; let us go on until morning talking about the delights of the spiritual life.” “Sister,” he replied, “what are you saying? I simply cannot stay outside my cell.”

When she heard her brother refuse her request, the holy woman joined her hands on the table, laid her head on them and began to pray. As she raised her head from the table, there were such brilliant flashes of lightning, such great peals of thunder and such a heavy downpour of rain that neither Benedict nor his brethren could stir across the threshold of the place where they had been seated. Sadly he began to complain: “May God forgive you, sister. What have you done?” “Well,” she answered, “I asked you and you would not listen; so I asked my God and he did listen. So now go off, if you can, leave me and return to your monastery.”

Reluctant as he was to stay of his own will, he remained against his will. So it came about that they stayed awake the whole night, engrossed in their conversation about the spiritual life.

It is not surprising that she was more effective than he, since as John says, God is love, it was absolutely right that she could do more, as she loved more.

Three days later, Benedict was in his cell. Looking up to the sky, he saw his sister’s soul leave her body in the form of a dove, and fly up to the secret places of heaven. Rejoicing in her great glory, he thanked almighty God with hymns and words of praise. He then sent his brethren to bring her body to the monastery and lay it in the tomb he had prepared for himself.

Their minds had always been united in God; their bodies were to share a common grave.

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.

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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