Today we celebrate the Feast of Scholastica, said to have lived from 480 to 543, the twin sister of Benedict. She is a patron of Benedictines throughout the world.
Scholastica led a form of consecrated life with a group of Christian women, following the spirit of the Rule of Benedict. We know of her life only from legend and from a brief story in the Dialogues of Gregory the Great.
Gregory tells us that she traveled each year to meet her brother at a small house midway between their residences. On one occasion, after a day filled with deep and richly satisfying prayer and conversation, evening fell and Benedict prepared leave.
The story continues, according to Gregory:
Finally Scholastica said: “Do not leave me tonight, but let us talk till morning of the joys of heaven.” Benedict answered: “Impossible, dear sister. I may not spend the night outside my cell.” At this she clasped her hands and bowed her head in prayer. When she raised her head, there were thunder and lightning and such a torrential rain that Benedict could not leave the house where they were.
Benedict was saddened and complained to her: “God have mercy on you, sister! What have you done!” She replied: “I asked you and you would not listen to me. So I asked God and God listened.”
It ought not surprise us that she won out. John tells us that “God is love.” It was inevitable that she who loved more would accomplish more.
It is said that after his return to Monte Cassino, Benedict saw a vision of Scholastica’s soul departing her body, ascending to heaven in the form of a dove. Indeed, she died three days after their last meeting.
Throughout time Scholastica remains a vital image to Benedictine women, a transcending spirit, a model of the feminine aspects of Benedictine monasticism and an example of the power of the soul who loves God.
On this Feast of Scholastic we pray:
Loving God, to Scholastica you gave the gifts of prayer, charity and dedication in a flowering of monastic life. Continue to foster these gifts among us today, for building up the communities of believers and for the service of the peoples of the earth. We ask this in the name of Jesus, the incarnate Word. Amen