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Benedict of Nursia

c.480-c.547. Founder of monasteries. Born at Norcia (Nursia) in Umbria, he was early sent to Rome to study. Seemingly, the degenerate life of the city caused him to flee to the country and live in a cave as a hermit at Subiaco. After a brief period in a monastery he returned to Subiaco where he set up twelve small monastic communities. About 529 he was pressured to leave these groups, and so with a small nucleus of men he moved to what is now Monte San Germano (halfway between Rome and Naples) to establish the monastery of Monte Cassino, where he remained until his death. The basis of the monastery was two chapels dedicated to John the Baptist and Martin of Umbria. Making use of previous rules (e.g., those of John Cassian* and Basil of Caesarea*), he composed his own rule. The wide usage of this has ensured his fame and gained for him the title “Patriarch of Western Monasticism.” He was buried in the grave of his sister Scholastica in the Chapel of John the Baptist. Our main source of information about him is contained in the Dialogues of Gregory the Great. There are Lives in English by J. McCann (1938) and T.F. Lindsay (1949).

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