Benedict of Nursia
(c. 480 - c. 550)
Middle Ages

Mentor of western monasticism and author of The Rule of Saint Benedict.

Cloister from Foundations Abbey, England, founded
by Benedictines

Following an education in Rome, Benedict withdrew from contemporary life to pursue prayer and contemplation. Eventually he gathered other hermits to his company and in time established several monasteries, each presided over by an abbot. Later he moved his own community to Monte Cassino. Benedict did not found an order. His lasting fame depends rather on the so-called Rule of St. Benedict which he drew up for the reform and ordering of monasticism. This rule provided for a demanding but moderate asceticism. Benedict required that monks establish permanent residence in a community, offering unconditional obedience to the Rule and to abbots chosen to rule over monasteries for life. The daily life of these monasteries, as Benedict envisioned it, was to be devoted to prayer and physical labor. Benedict himself says little about study, but this also became a prominent part of Benedictine life. With the approval of the pope, Benedict's Rule and Benedictine monasticism became the prevalent form of monasticism in the West.

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