The Memorial of Saint Scholastica
Saint Scholastica was the twin sister of Saint Benedict. She was consecrated to God at a very early age but probably continued to live in her parents’ home. It is said that she was as devoted to Jesus as she was to her brother. So, when Benedict established his monastery at Monte Cassino, Scholastica founded a convent in nearby Plombariola, about five miles south of Monte Cassino. The convent is said to have been under the direction of her brother, and so she is regarded as the first Benedictine nun.
The siblings were quite close. According to the Dialogues of St Gregory the Great, her brother St Benedict used to visit her once a year, and they would talk about spiritual matters. On one occasion they had passed the time as usual in prayer and pious conversation until the evening. Scholastica begged her brother to remain until the next day. Benedict refused to spend the night outside his monastery. She had recourse to prayer and a furious thunderstorm burst so that Benedict could not return home. They spent the night in spiritual conferences. The next morning they parted to meet no more on earth.
Just after his return to Monte Cassino, Benedict saw a vision of Scholastica’s soul departing from her body, ascending to heaven in the form of a dove. She died three days after their last meeting. He placed her body in the tomb he had prepared for himself and arranged for his own to be placed there after his death. Saint Gregory comments, “so death did not separate the bodies of these two, whose minds had always been united in the Lord”.
There’s a lesson we can learn from Scholastica’s example. Some people have the idea that we should only ask for God’s help in the really important matters. We forget that God’s love is so great that he wishes to give us every good thing. He is always ready to hear our prayers, and even more ready to hear than we are to pray. And that includes all our prayers: our prayers of praise and thanksgiving, and also our prayers of petition, repentance, and intercession. Nothing is too great or too trivial to share with God our Father.
A prayerful person learns that everything we are and have comes from God’s infinite goodness; when we finally learn that lesson, we turn to him with all our hopes and dreams, and needs. Saint Scholastica is obviously one of those who learned the lesson of her own need for God.