Old Calendar: St. Pius I, pope and martyr
St. Benedict was born at Nursia in Umbria in about 480 and was sent to Rome to be educated, but soon left the world to live a solitary life at Subiaco. After living in a cave in the mountains for two years as a hermit, he had acquired such a reputation that disciples came in numbers to join him and important Roman families entrusted him with the education of their children. He organized a form of monastic life in twelve small monasteries. Under his guidance, as abbot, the monks vowed to seek God and devoted themselves to work and prayer. A few years later St. Benedict left the district of Subiaco to found the great abbey of Monte Cassino on the heights of Campania. There he wrote his Rule in which are wonderfully combined the Roman genius and the monastic wisdom of the Christian East. St. Benedict died in 547.Before the reform of the General Roman Calendar St. Benedict's feast was celebrated on March 21. Today was the feast of St. Pius I who was pope from 140 to 155. He was possibly the brother of Hermas, the author of the book known as the Shepherd of Hermas, one of the earliest books extant on penance. During his pontificate Pius experienced the difficulties caused by the heretic Marcion who came to Rome and broke away from the Church; he is also the contemporary of the Roman apologist St. Justin. He was buried at the Vatican.
Born in Nursia, Italy, he was educated in Rome, was repelled by the vices of the city and in about 500 fled to Enfide, thirty miles away. He decided to live the life of a hermit and settled at mountainous Subiaco, where he lived in a cave for three years, fed by a monk named Romanus.
- Purchase a copy of The Rule of Saint Benedict (Vintage Spiritual Classics) and/or St. Benedict and St. Therese: The Little Rule & the Little Way, Citadel of God: A Novel About Saint Benedict, Listen My Son: St. Benedict for Fathers. Try St. Benedict: Hero of the Hills and The Holy Twins for the children.
- Read about the Monasteries of St. Benedict and St. Scholastica and learn more about St. Benedict.
- Monasteries kept bees to provide honey for sweetening and mead made from fermented honey — wax was in great demand for candles. Honey and mead were used to make herbal remedies more palatable! Learn more about St. Benedict and the Blessing of Bees. Read Address on Bees by Pius XII.
- After Benedict had been living as a hermit for several years a religious community came to him after the death of their abbot and asked Benedict to take over. Some of the monks didn't like this plan and the rigor of his rule and attempted to kill him with poisoned bread and wine. When St. Benedict made the sign of the Cross over the cup of wine and the bread, the cup holding the wine shattered (some versions say it spilled) and some versions indicate a raven carried off the bread. This website gives an explanation of the St. Benedict Medal and the meaning of the symbols on it which includes the poisoned cup and the raven. And for more about the medal read The Medal of St. Benedict by Fr. Bernardine Patterson OSB.From Catholic Culture's Library: Rule of St. Benedict, Fulgens Radiatur (On St. Benedict) Pius XII, Order of St. Benedict, The Holy Father's Message of July 7, 1999 sent to the Abbot of Subiaco for the celebration of the 1,500th anniversary of the foundation of St. Benedict's first monastery there.
St. Pius I
The Holy See remained vacant for three days, then Pius, an Italian from Aquileia, stepped into the shoes of the Fisherman. His father's name was Rufinus, and his brother Hermas was a former slave and the author of the early Christian document, The Shepherd, whose contents would seem to indicate that a monarchial episcopate was now recognized in Rome.
- Want your high schoolers to learn more about the Popes and the history of the Church? Order this textbook from Stella Maris Books, The Story of the Church - Her Founding, Mission and Progress. A Textbook in Church History.
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