He was born in Norcia in 480 with his twin sister, Saint Scholastica. He was sent at an early age, with his nurse, to Rome for training, where he also studied.
Saint Gregory I handed down a large part of the legends of Saint Benedict.
He left the city life and retreated to the Sabine Mountains and then, as a hermit, lived for three years in a cave in the Aniotal. The cave was later given the name “Holy Grotto”. The monk Romanus supplied Benedict daily with bread, which was lowered on a rope. The bell that gave the sign was destroyed by the devil with a stone throw.
Evil led him into temptation, in the form of a raven and a virgin. He could resist, however, by rolling in thorns.
Saint Benedict and his sister Saint Scholastica flanking the Assumption of Mary in San Paolo Fuori le Mura (Rome)
Saint Benedict in Santa Francesca Romana (Rome)
The monks of Vicovaro elected Benedict as abbot of the community. By his rules and his strictness he made himself unpopular with the monks, who then tried to poison him. When they handed him the chalice, the poison took the form of a snake and escaped from the chalice. When Benedict made the sign of the cross over the vessel, it broke.
He then left the monks and returned to the Holy Grotto with a community of disciples and founded 12 new monasteries, each of which was inhabited by 12 monks.
He escaped another attempted murder by having the poisoned bread carried away by his raven.
While visiting his sister Scholastika, he foresaw her death and Ascension.
In 529 he left the cave and founded a community on the Montecassino, where he wrote the famous and still valid “Regula Benedicti” around 540. From this comes the motto “Ora et Labora” and the basic pillars of the Benedictines: striving for order, love of God and neighbour, readiness to be lenient with the weak and pastoral care.
In 542, the king of the Goths Totila visited Saint Benedict, who foretold his death in 10 years. Totila actually fell in 552 at Tagina.
Thanks to Benedict’s prayer, Maurus was able to walk across the water to save the drowning Placidus.
Benedict devoted himself to the needs of the locals, healed the sick, brought the dead back to life and distributed bread and alms. According to tradition, he died praying in 547. His brothers saw his ascension to heaven. He was carried by angels on a carpeted, light-filled road.
Benedict is the patron saint of Europe, teachers, students and miners. He is invoked against plague, fever, inflammation and kidney stones.