Tuesday, March 21, 2023

The Feast of St Benedict 2023

O the praiseworthy and glorious merits of St Benedict, who, while he spurned his native place and the pomp of the world for Christ, obtained a share in the company of all the blessed, * and shared in their eternal rewards. V. Among the choirs of the Confessors he holds a splendid place, and beholds the very source of all good things. And shared... (The 5th responsory of Matins in the Monastic Office of St Benedict.)

St Benedict in the Glory of Heaven with the Saints; fresco on the ceiling of the abbey church of St Maurice in Ebersmunster, France, ca. 1727.
R. O laudanda sancti Benedicti mérita gloriósa, qui dum pro Christo patriam mundíque sprevit pompam, adeptus est omnium contubernium beatórum, * et párticeps factus praemiórum aeternórum. V. Inter choros Confessórum spléndidum póssidet locum, et ipsum fontem omnium intuétur bonórum. Et párticeps.

St Benedict died on March 21 in the year 543 or 547, and this was the date on which his principal feast was traditionally kept, and is still kept by Benedictines; it is sometimes referred to on the calendars of Benedictine liturgical books as the “Transitus - Passing.” There was also a second feast to honor the translation of his relics, which was kept on July 11. The location to which the relics were translated is still a matter of dispute, with the Abbey of Monte Cassino in Italy, founded by the Saint himself, and the French Abbey of Fleury, also known as Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire, both claiming to possess them. This second feast is found in many medieval missals and breviaries, even in places not served by monastic communities. (It was not, however, observed by either the Cistercians or Carthusians.). The second feast was in a certain sense the more solemn in the traditional use of the Benedictines; March 21 always falls in Lent, and the celebration of octaves in Lent was prohibited, but most monastic missals have the July 11 feast with an octave. In the post-Conciliar reform of the Calendar, many Saints, including St Benedict, were moved out of Lent; in his case, to the day of this second feast in the Benedictine Calendar.

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