February 2012: Saints Scholastica and Benedict of Nursia

The special bond that siblings share can be seen in the lives of Saint Scholastica and her twin brother Saint Benedict of Nursia. Saint Scholastica was a nun and a leader of a community for women in the Italian town of Plombariola, and her community was only about five miles away from Benedict’s abbey at Monte Cassino.

Scholastica and Benedict were only able to meet with each other once a year. Since women were not allowed in Benedict’s abbey, Scholastica and Benedict would meet in a small house near their respective religious communities, where they would talk about God and pray. The last time the twins met, Benedict was preparing to leave for his abbey when his sister begged him to stay. When Benedict insisted that he must return to his monastery, Scholastica folded her hands and wept until a raging storm erupted that prevented Benedict from leaving.

Benedict stayed the rest of the night to continue his conversation and prayer with his sister, and three days later Scholastica died on February 10, 547. Benedict told his fellow monks that at the hour of her death he could see Scholastica’s soul ascend towards heaven, and he buried his beloved sister in the tomb he had built for himself.

Little else is known about Saint Scholastica and her brother Saint Benedict; what we do know about this sibling pair is through the writings of Pope Gregory the Great, who included the twins in his collection of stories and events about the saints called the Dialogues. Today we know Saint Scholastic a as the patron saint of nuns whose name is invoked against storms and rain. Saint Benedict of Nursia is the patron saint of a wide variety of people, causes and conditions, from monks to coppersmiths to people in religious orders and schoolchildren.