All that we know of Scholastica comes from the Dialogues of Gregory the Great. Sister of Benedict, the Abbot of Monte Cassino and father of Western monasticism, she too was born at Nursia in central Italy, around the year 480. At an early age she consecrated her life to God, but probably remained at home. After Benedict moved to Monte Cassino, she settled about five miles distant at Plombariola, either joining or founding a convent there. As abbess of Plombariola, she followed Benedict’s monastic Rule.
Scholastica and Benedict met once a year in a house near his monastery, where they would praise God together and discuss spiritual matters. At their last meeting, she asked him to stay longer to “keep on talking about the joys of heaven until morning”, but he refused, protesting that he could not stay away from his monastery. At his refusal, she folded her hands on the table and rested her head on them in prayer. The effect of her prayer was a violent thunderstorm that prevented Benedict’s leaving, and they spent the night together as she had wished, from which “both of them derived great profit from the holy converse they had about the interior life.”
Three days later Scholastica died, and as Benedict stood in his room looking up toward the sky, he saw his sister’s soul leaving her body in the form of a dove and entering into heaven. After giving joyful thanks to God his sister’s eternal glory, he sent several of the brethren of his monastery to bring her body back to Monte Cassino, where she was buried in the tomb that Benedict had prepared for himself. Upon his death, he was laid in the tomb next to her.
Scholastica is commemorated on this day in the general Roman Calendar and in the Calendar of the Church of England.
Almighty God, by your Holy Spirit you have made us one with your saints in heaven and on earth: Grant that in our earthly pilgrimage we may always be supported by this fellowship of love and prayer, and know ourselves to be surrounded by their witness to your power and mercy. We ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ, in whom all our intercessions are acceptable through the Spirit, and who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.
The icon of Saint Benedict and Saint Scholastica is © Conception Abbey.