St. Benedict was born in 480 in central Italy in the town of Nursia. He had a twin sister, Scholastica, who also became a saint (feast day, Feb. 10) and is honored by Benedictines.
St. Benedict’s parents had enough means to send their son to study in Rome. The hope was that this would lead him into a successful career. But the young St. Benedict found the student life in Rome to be decadent. Rejecting it, he left school and went off in solitude to seek God. With some timely assistance and guidance from a monk and a nearby priest, St. Benedict made progress in seeking God and became known in the region for his holiness.
Eventually a group of monks sought him out, asking him to be their superior. He very reluctantly accepted. After some time the monks resented his seriousness about living the monastic life. They even tried to poison him! But after St. Benedict blessed the cup with the poison in it, the cup broke, thus saving him from their plot.
St. Benedict naturally left these monks and went on to more successful ventures. He founded a community of monks in Subiaco, Italy. He later founded the monastery of Monte Cassino, where he would write his Rule for Monasteries. There he died after receiving the Eucharist and while surrounded by his brother monks.
His feast day is July 11 on the calendar for the universal Church; yet his feast day for many monasteries, such as our own, is primarily celebrated on Mar. 21, the date of his death.
Photo of Monte Cassino