St. Scholastica, Sister of St. Benedict of Nursia


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Commemorated on February 10

Almost everything we know about St. Scholastica comes from the Dialogues of St. Gregory the Great.

St. Scholastica was the twin sister of St. Benedict of Nursia, who founded the Benedictine order. They were born in Nurcia, Italy around 480, and St. Scholastica was consecrated to God at a very early age. She was as devoted to Christ as she was to her brother. When Benedict established his monastery at Monte Cassino, Scholastica founded a convent in nearby Plombariola, about five miles south. The convent is said to have been under the direction of her brother.

The siblings were quite close. The respective rules of their houses did not permit either entering the other’s monastery. According to St. Gregory, they met once a year at a house near the Monte Cassino monastery to confer on spiritual matters, and were eventually buried together, probably in the same grave. St. Gregory later wrote that “death did not separate the bodies of these two, whose minds had ever been united in the Lord.”

St. Gregory wrote a charming story of the last meeting of the two saints on earth. Scholastica and Benedict had spent the day in the “mutual comfort of heavenly talk” and with nightfall approaching, Benedict prepared to leave. Scholastica, having a vision that it would be their last opportunity to see each other alive, asked him to spend the evening in conversation. Benedict sternly refused as he did not wish to break his own rule by spending a night away from his monastery. Scholastica cried openly, laid her head upon the table, and prayed that God would intercede for her. As she did so, a sudden storm arose. The violent rain and hail came in such a torrential downpour that Benedict and his companions were unable to depart. “May Almighty God forgive you, sister,” said Benedict, “for what you have done.” “I asked a favor of you,” Scholastica replied simply, “and you refused it. I asked it of God, and He has granted it!”

Just after his return to Monte Cassino in 543, Benedict saw a vision of Scholastica’s soul departing her body, ascending to heaven in the form of a dove. She died three days after their last meeting. He placed her body in the tomb he had prepared for himself, and arranged for his own to be placed there after his death. Her relics were said to have been translated to a rich silver shrine in St. Peter’s Church in Le Mans, France, which may have been when Benedict’s remains were moved to Fleury. In 1562, this shrine was preserved from the Huguenots’ plundering.

St. Scholastica is usually depicted as a habited nun, holding a crozier and crucifix, with a dove. She is the patroness of Monte Cassino and is invoked against storms.

Troparion –

O God, to show us where innocence leads,

You made the soul of your virgin St. Scholastica soar to heaven

Like a dove in flight.

Grant through her merits and her prayers

That we may so live in innocence as to attain to joys everlasting.

This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

Who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

Forever and ever. Amen.

By permission of www.orthodoxwiki.org