Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Saint Scholastica

Scholastica, the sister of our venerable Father Benedict, who was dedicated to the Lord Almighty from her infancy, was wont to come visit her brother once a year. The man of God went to her not far from the gate (of his monastery), at a place that belonged to it. Once, she came according to her custom, and her venerable brother with his monks went there to meet her, and they spent the whole day in the praises of God and spiritual talk, and when it was almost night, they dined together. As they were yet sitting at the table, speaking of devout matters, and the hour grew late, the holy nun, his sister, entreated him, saying, “I ask you not to leave me this night, that we may speak of the joys of the heavenly life until morning.” To which he replied, “What are you saying, sister? In no wise can I stay outside my cell!”

The final meeting between Ss Benedict and Scholastica, depicted in a 14th-century fresco in the Sacro Speco of Subiaco.   
At that time, the sky was so clear that no cloud was to be seen. The holy nun, hearing this refusal of her brother, joined her hands together, laid them on the table, bowed her head on her hands, and prayed to almighty God. And when she lifted her head from the table, there fell suddenly such a tempest of lightning and thundering, and such abundance of rain, that neither venerable Benedict, nor his monks that were with him, could put their heads out of doors. The holy nun, having rested her head on her hands, poured forth such a flood of tears on the table, that she transformed the clear air to a watery sky.

After the end of her devotions, that storm of rain followed; her prayer and the rain so met together, that as she lifted up her head from the table, the thunder began. So it was that in one and the very same instant that she lifted up her head, she brought down the rain. The man of God, seeing that he could not, in the midst of such thunder and lightning and great abundance of rain return to his Abbey, began to be heavy and to complain to his sister, saying: “God forgive you, what have you done?” She answered him, “I desired you to stay, and you would not hear me; I have desired it of our good Lord, and he has granted my petition. Therefore if you can now depart, in God’s name return to your monastery, and leave me here alone.” But the good father, not being able to leave, tarried there against his will where before he would not have stayed willingly. By that means, they watched all night and with spiritual and heavenly talk mutually comforted one another.

The next day the venerable woman returned to her monastery, and the man of God to his abbey. Three days later, standing in his cell, and lifting up his eyes to heaven, he beheld the soul of his sister (which was departed from her body) ascend into heaven in the likeness of a dove. Rejoicing much to see her great glory, with hymns and praise he gave thanks to almighty God, and imparted the news of her death to his monks. He sent them presently to bring her body to his Abbey, to have it buried in that grave which he had provided for himself. By this means it fell out that, as their souls were always one in God while they lived, so their bodies continued together after their deaths. (From the Second Book of the Dialogues of St Gregory the Great, chapters 33 and 34, read in the Roman Breviary on the feast of St Scholastica.)

The Death of St Scholastica, by Paul-Joseph Delcloche, from the Church of St James in Liège. (Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.)

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