Saint Benedict of Nursia is sometimes called the Father of Western Monasticism. He came from a Roman noble family, but repelled by the worldliness of Rome when he went there to study, he retreated into the countryside to life and pray quietly. There he met other monks, some living as hermits and others living in communities. When the abbot of a nearby monastery died, Benedict was asked to assume the leadership of the monastery. However, it was not a success. The monks found his rules too strict and some of them tried to poison him. For a time Benedict returned to living as a solitary monk, but eventually he gathered like minded followers. He founded a number of monasteries, including the famous hilltop monastery of Monte Cassino between Rome and Naples. Saint Benedict wrote a rule describing how monks in community should lead their life in work and prayer. This Rule of St. Benedict has become the inspiration for many monastic orders.
This icon of Saint Benedict includes all of the traditional symbols found on the Saint Benedict Medal. Benedict holds open a copy of his Rule. In his hand is an abbot’s staff. Around him are the Latin words: Eius in obitu nostro praesentia muniamur, which in English means, “May We Be Strengthened By His Presence in the Hour of Our Death.”
Below Saint Benedict is a cross. On the cross itself are initials which stand for the words: “Crux sacra sit mihi lux! Non draco sit mihi dux!” In English, they translate to, “May the holy cross be my light! May the dragon never be my overlord!” Around the cross are the initials of the right of exorcism. They stand for Latin words meaning: Evil are the things you offer, Drink your own poison. Peace! Get back, Satan. Do not offer your vanity to me!
At the bottom left and right are images of a cup with a serpent coming out of it and a raven with a piece of bread. These symbols come from the disastrous early experience of Saint Benedict in leading a community of monks. After he left the abby, monks who had hated his work as abbot tried to poison him by sending him a cup with poison in it, but when Benedict prayed over the cup before drinking, it shattered, saving him from the poison. On another occasion the monks sent him poisoned bread. However, when Benedict blessed the bread a raven flew down and took the bread from him, saving him from the poison.
Saint Benedict’s feast day is on July 11th. He is the patron saint, among many other things, of Europe, of students, and of people in religious orders.
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I love the poster of St Benedict very colorful