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Monthly Reflection by
Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

"Revere Christ as Lord

"(1 Pet 3:15

) - Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

Prayer of the Month


 

Saint Scholastica
Feast Day - February 10

Scholastica (c. 480 – 10 February 542) was the twin sister of Benedict of Nursia.

Scholastica was born in 480 in Nursia, Umbria, of wealthy parents and according to Gregory the Great's Dialogues, was dedicated to God from a young age. She and her brother Benedict were brought up together until the time he left to pursue studies in Rome.

A young Roman woman of Scholastica's class and time would likely have remained in her father's house until marriage (likely arranged) or entry into religious life. But wealthy women could inherit property, divorce, and were generally literate. On occasion several young women would live together in a household and form a religious community.

It is likely that she lived in a hermitage with one or two other religious women in a cluster of houses at the base of Mount Cassino where there is an ancient church named after her. Since Scholastica was dedicated to God at an early age, perhaps she lived in her father's house with other religious women until his death and then moved nearer to Benedict.

Benedict was very devoted to his twin sister.

The most commonly told story about her is that she would go and visit her brother at a place near his abbey, and they would spend the day worshiping together and discussing sacred texts and issues.

One day they had supper and continued their conversation. When Benedict indicated it was time for him to leave, perhaps sensing the time of her death was drawing near, she asked him to stay with her for the evening so they could continue their discussions.

Not wishing to break his own Rule, Benedict insisted that he needed to return to his cell. At that point, Scholastica closed her hands in prayer, and after a moment, a wild storm started outside of the guest house in which they were housed.

Benedict asked, "What have you done?", to which she replied, "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."

Benedict was unable to return to his monastery, and the twins spent the night in discussion.

The next morning they parted to meet no more on earth. Three days later St. Scholastica died.

According to Gregory's Dialogues, from his cell, Benedict saw his twin's soul leaving the earth and ascending to heaven in the form of a shining white dove.

Benedict had her body brought to his monastery, where he caused it to be laid in the tomb which he had prepared for himself. She died about the year 543, and St. Benedict followed her soon after.

Scholastica is the foundress of the women's branch of Benedictine Monasticism. She was selected as the main motif for a high value commemorative coin: the Austria €50 'The Christian Religious Orders', issued 13 March 2002. On the obverse (heads) side of the coin Scholastica is depicted alongside her twin, Benedict.

She sacrificed many opportunities for her and her twin brother, just so that the twins could get closer to God.

The attributes of Scholastica and her brother spiritually complement and balance each other. Benedict's name, from the Latin benedictus, "the blessed one," connotes great spiritual affinity with God, compassion, or "heart." Scholastica's name, on the other hand, from the word scholasticus or "student or teacher of rhetoric," connotes exactness of scholarly pursuit, discipline and "mind." Another interpretation of the two names suggests the "active" versus the "contemplative" life and that Benedict loved contemplation like a sister.

Although the two names were in use during the early Middle Ages for both pagans and Christians, it is interesting to note that these two names together form wholeness or completeness. Their attributes become the balance of yang and yin found in Eastern philosophy.
When Dialogues reports that the siblings are buried in the same tomb, heart and mind, male and female, and the active and contemplative life are brought together in balance and wholeness. This balance found in "prayer and work," of course, is a cardinal principle of Benedictine spirituality.

Scholastica is the patron saint of nuns, and convulsive children, and is invoked against storms and rain.

 
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