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Christian perfection and prudence disciplined the countless legions of Religious, by whom the Holy Patriarch achieved all these prodigies. During the ages which preceded the promulgation of this "Rule," -so wonderful in its simple eloquence, the Monastic Life, in the Western Church, had produced some few saintly men; but there was nothing to justify the hope, that this kind of life would become, even more than it had been in the East, the principal means of the Christian regeneration and civilization of so many nations. This "Rule" once written,—and all others gradually give place to it, as the stars are eclipsed when the sun has risen. The West was peopled with Monasteries; and from these Monasteries flowed upon Europe all those blessings, which have made it the privileged quarter of the globe.

An incredible number of Saints, both men and women, who look up to Benedict as their Father, purify and sanctify the world, which had not yet emerged from the state of semi-barbarism. A long series of Popes, who had once been Novices in the Benedictine Cloister, preside over the destinies of this new world, and form for it a new legislation, which, being based exclusively on the moral law, is to avert the threatening prevalence of brutal despotism. Bishops innumerable, trained in the same School of Benedict, consolidate this moral legislation in the provinces and cities over which they are appointed. The Apostles of twenty barbarous nations confront their fierce and savage tribes, and, with the Gospel in one hand, and the "Rule" of their Holy Father in the other, lead them into the fold of Christ. For many centuries, the learned men, the Doctors of the Church, and the instructors of youth, belong, almost exclusively, to the Order of the great Patriarch, who, by the labours of his children, pours forth on the people the purest beauty of light and truth. This choir of heroes in every virtue, of Popes, of

Bishops, of Apostles, of holy Doctors, proclaiming themselves as his Disciples, and joining with the universal Church in glorifying that God, whose holiness and power shine forth so brightly in the life and actions of Benedict,-what a corona, what an aureola of glory for one Saint to have!

Let us now read the sketch of his life, as given us in the Liturgy.

Benedictus, Nursiæ nobili genere ortus, Romæ liberalibus disciplinis eruditus, ut totum se Jesu Christo daret, ad eum locum qui Sublacus dicitur, in altissimam speluncam penetravit: in qua sic per triennium delituit, ut unus id sciret Romanus monachus, quo ad vitæ necessitatem ministro utebatur. Dum igitur ei quadam die ardentes ad libidinem faces a diabolo subjicerentur, se in vepribus tamdiu volutavit, dum lacerato corpore, voluptatis sensus dolore opprimeretur. Sed jam erumpente ex illis latebris fama ejus sanctitatis, quidam monachi se illi instituendos tradiderunt: quorum vivendi licentia cum ejus objurgationes ferre non posset, venenum in potione ei dare constituunt. Verum poculum ei præbentibus, crucis signo vas confregit, ac relicto monasterio in solitudinem se recepit.

Benedict was born of a noble family at Nursia. He was sent to Rome, that he might receive a liberal education; but not long after, he withdrew to a place called Subiaco, and there hid himself in a very deep cave, that he might give himself entirely to Jesus Christ. He passed three years in that retirement, unknown to all save to a Monk, by name Romanus, who supplied him with the necessaries of life. The devil having one day excited him to a violent temptation of impurity, he rolled himself amidst prickly brambles, and extinguished within himself the desire of carnal pleasure by the pain he thus endured. The fame of his sanctity, however, became known beyond the limits of his hiding-place, and certain monks put themselves under his guidance. He sharply rebuked them for their wicked lives; which rebuke so irritated them, that they resolved to put poison in his drink. Having made the sign of the Cross over the cup as they proffered it to him, it broke, and he, leaving that monastery, returned to his solitude.

But whereas many daily came to him, beseeching him to take them as his disciples, he built twelve monasteries, and drew up the most admirable rules for their government. He afterwards went to Monte Cassino, where he destroyed an image of Apollo, which was still adored in those parts; and having pulled down the altar and burnt the groves, he built a chapel, in that same place, in honour of St. Martin, and another in honour of St. John. He instructed the inhabitants in the Christian religion. Day by day did Benedict advance in the grace of God, and he also foretold, in a spirit of prophecy, what was to take place. Totila, the King of the Goths, having heard of this, and being anxious to know if it were the truth, went to visit him; but first sent his sword-bearer, who was to pretend that he was the king, and who, for this end, was dressed in royal robes and accompanied by attendants. As soon as Benedict saw him, he said: "Put, off, my son, put off this dress, for it is not thine." But he foretold to Totila, that he would reach Rome, cross the sea, and die at the end of nine years.

Several months before he departed from this life, he foretold to his disciples the day on which he should die. Six days previous to his death, he ordered them to open the sepulchre wherein he wished to be buried. On the sixth

Sed cum multi ad eum quotidie discipuli convenirent, duodecim monasteria ædificavit, eaque sanctissimis legibus communivit. Postea Cassinum migravit, ubi simulacrum Apollinis, qui adhuc ibi colebatur, comminuit, aram evertit, et lucos succendit: ibique sancti Martini sacellum et sancti Joannis ædiculam exstruxit: oppidanos autem et incolas christianis præceptis imbuit. Quare augebatur in dies magis divina gratia Benedictus, ut etiam prophetico spiritu ventura prædiceret. Quod ubi accepit Totila Gothorum rex, exploraturus an res ita esset, spatharium suum regio ornatu et comitatu præmittit, qui se regem simularet. Quem ut ille vidit: Depone, inquit, fili, depone quod geris; nam tuum non est. Totilæ vero prædixit adventum ejus in Urbem, maris transmissionem, et post novem annos mortem.

Qui aliquot mensibus antequam e vita migraret, præmonuit discipulos quo die esset moriturus: ac sepulchrum, in quo suum corpus condi vellet, sex diebus antequam eo inferretur, aperiri jussit: sexto

que die deferri voluit in ecclesiam : ubi sumpta Eucharistia, sublatis in cœlum oculis orans, inter manus discipulorum efflavit animam : quam duo monachi euntem in cœlum viderunt pallio ornatam pretiosissimo, circum eam fulgentibus lampadibus, et clarissima et gravissima specie virum stantem supra caput ipsius dicentem audierunt: Hæc est via, qua dilectus Domini Benedictus in cœlum ascendit.

day, he desired to be carried to the Church, and there having received the Eucharist, with his eyes raised in prayer towards heaven, and held up by his disciples, he breathed forth his soul. Two monks saw it ascending to heaven, adorned with a most precious robe, and surrounded by shining lights. They also saw a most beautiful and venerable man, who stood above the saint's head, and they heard him thus speak: "This is the way, whereby Benedict, the beloved of the Lord, ascended to heaven."

The Benedictine Order celebrates the praises of its illustrious Patriarch in these three Hymns:

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All that the ancient Prophets preached, and all that the books of the Divine Law tell us of holiness, is contained in the life of the great Patriarch, which we are now extolling.

Moses was celebrated for his meekness; Abraham, for his being Father of all believers; Isaac for the beauty of his Spouse, and his obedience to the trying commands of his father.

The sublime Patriarch of our Family was richly laden with every virtue; and in his single self, represented Isaac, Moses, and Abraham.

Quidquid antiqui cecinere Vates, Quidquid æternæ monimenta legis,

Continet nobis celebranda summi

Vita Monarchæ. Extulit Mosen pietas benignum, Inclytum proles Abraham decorat, Isaac sponsæ decus, et severi Jussa parentis. Ipse virtutum onustus, Celsior nostri Patriarcha cœtus Isaac, Mosen, Abraham sub


Pectore clausit.


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