St. Scholastica: The Insistent Twin Sister

February 10

Memorial of St. Scholastica

Storms. Rain. Convulsive children.

St. Scholastica can help!  She is the patron saint of all of these things—as well as the patron of nuns.

The twin sister of St. Benedict, St. Scholastica was born around 480 and died on February 10, 547.  Even as small children, Benedict and Scholastica were devout.  When Benedict established his monastery for religious men at Monte Cassino, Scholastica founded a convent for women just five miles away, in Plombariola.

Pope St. Gregory the Great tells the story of St. Scholastica in his Dialogues, Book II.  According to Pope Gregory, both Benedict’s monastery and Scholastica’s convent had very strict rules which proscribed each from visiting the other’s monastery home.  Once each year, the two would meet at a house near Monte Cassino monastery, where they would spend hours conversing about spiritual matters.

Answered Prayer: A Torrential Downpour

Pope Gregory tells a humorous story about the last day that the two saints spent together on earth.  According to the story, as was their custom, Benedict and Scholastica met at the private home and spent the day in “mutual comfort of heavenly talk.”  After dinner, as the day drew to a close, Benedict prepared to leave; but Scholastica, sensing that this was the last time they would be together, begged Benedict to stay longer so that they could continue their conversation through the evening.  Benedict’s rule required that he not spend the night away from his own monastery at Monte Cassino, so he firmly refused.

But Scholastica, usually mild mannered, would not accept her brother’s harsh answer.  She threw her head down on the table and cried, praying that God would intercede for her.  As she spoke, a sudden storm arose; the rain and hail fell in such a torrential downpour that Benedict and his followers were unable to leave.

“May Almighty God forgive you, sister, for what you have done!” said Benedict.

But Scholastica replied calmly, “I asked a favor of you, and you refused it. I asked it of God, and He has granted it. So go off now, if you can, and return to your monastery.”

Benedict did not leave but spent the evening with Scholastica, engaged in earnest conversation.

Scholastica died just three days later.  Benedict, back at the monastery, had a vision in which he saw the soul of his sister leaving her body, ascending to heaven in the form of a shining white dove.

Prayer

O God, to show us where innocence leads, you made the soul of your virgin Saint 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.  Amen.


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