“There was a man of venerable life, Benedict by name and grace, who from the time of his very childhood carried the heart of an old man. His demeanour indeed surpassing his age, he gave himself no disport or pleasure, but living here upon earth he despised the world with all the glory thereof, at such a time as he might have most freely enjoyed it.”
Saint Benedict was born around 480 A.D. in Norcia, Italy. Born to affluent parents, he was sent to Rome for his education. Disillusioned by the other student’s behavior, Saint Benedict retreated to a nearby ‘religious community’ and eventually, to spiritual seclusion in a cave deep in the mountains. In these three formative years, St. Benedict overcame the “three fundamental temptations” of self-importance, lust, and anger.
Next, he relocated to Monte Cassio, an imposing plateau over the vast plains, symbolizing his desire to literally make monastic living visible to the masses. Saint Benedict formed his Rule and professed to a life of deep prayer (“an act of listening expressed in action”), works of the Lord, a sincere search for God, humble obedience, love, service, and peace. So popular was his guidance, that many credit him with helping shape the civilization and culture of Europe. As such, in 1964, Paul VI proclaimed Saint Benedict Patron of Europe.