Today in the Holy Mother Church we recognize and celebrate the life of St. Scholastica. She was the twin sister of St. Benedict and was born into a wealthy family in Nursia Italy, in 480. Their mother died during their birth. As a young girl she possessed many spiritual gifts. She consecrated her life and her virginity to God.
When her brother Benedict went off to study, she remained at home, as was customary of the time. When her brother formed his monastery, she joined a group of pious virgins. Though the details are few, it is believed that she started a convent for this group of women and that they remained close to her brother so they could receive spiritual direction from him, and so that he would travel to the convent to celebrate Mass for the sisters. The brother and sister shared a love for the Lord and the Church and often relied on each other for support. Most of what we know about St. Scholastic comes from the stories from Pope St. Gregory. One such story reveals the mutual sanctity the brother and sister shared. From his Second Book of Dialogues we find:
“His sister Scholastica, who had been consecrated to God in early childhood, used to visit with him once a year. On these occasions he would go to meet her in a house belonging to the monastery a short distance from the entrance. For this particular visit he joined her there with a few of his disciples and they spent the whole day singing God’s praises and conversing about the spiritual life.
“When darkness was setting in they took their meal together and continued their conversation at table until it was quite late. Then the holy nun said to him, ‘Please do not leave me tonight, brother. Let us keep on talking about the joys of heaven till morning.’ ‘What are you saying, sister?’ he replied. ‘You know that I cannot stay away from the monastery.’ The sky was so clear at the time, there was not a cloud in sight.
“At her brother’s refusal Scholastica folded her hands on the table and rested her head upon them in earnest prayer. When she looked up again, there was a sudden burst of lightning and thunder accompanied by such a downpour that Benedict and his companions were unable to set foot outside the door. By shedding a flood of tears while she prayed, this holy nun had darkened the cloudless sky with a heavy rain. The storm began as soon as her prayer was over. In fact, the two coincided so closely that the thunder was already resounding as she raised her head from the table. The very instant she ended her prayer the rain poured down.
“Realizing that he could not return to the abbey in this terrible storm, Benedict complained bitterly. ‘God forgive you, sister!’ he said. ‘What have you done?’ Scholastica simply answered, ‘When I appealed to you, you would not listen to me. So I turned to my God and He heard my prayer. Leave now if you can. Leave me here and go back to your monastery.’
“This, of course, he could not do. He had no choice now but to stay, in spite of his unwillingness. They spent the entire night together and both of them derived great profit from the holy thoughts they exchanged about the interior life. The next morning Scholastica returned to her convent and Benedict to his monastery.
“Three days later as he stood in his room looking up toward the sky, he beheld his sister’s soul leaving her body and entering the heavenly court in the form of a dove. Overjoyed at her eternal glory, he gave thanks to God in hymns of praise. Then, after informing his brethren of her death, he sent some of them to bring her body to the abbey and bury it in the tomb he had prepared for himself. The bodies of these two were now to share a common resting place, just as in life their souls had always been one in God.”
Today, St. Scholastica and St. Benedict serve as a great example of fraternal charity for us to imitate on our own path to sanctification. Especially in our current time, when brother is at odds with brother, and the family unit is rift with internal discourse. We can look to this sibling pair and see how a shared devotion to God can aide in overcoming personality differences within families and allow us to be united together with a common love that focuses on the Lord. Because of St. Benedict’s vocation, he was a man of firm resolve, and St. Scholastic’s angelic gentleness was a great balance to this. In the lives of saints we are continually met with holy people that display such personality differences, yet with a shared love for the Lord, their souls are bound together and made complete. Truly a pair to be imitated and sought after in our daily family conflicts. Below is a prayer in honor of this blessed saint.
Prayer in Honor of Saint Scholastica
O God, to show us where innocence leads, you made the soul of your virgin, Saint Scholastica, soar to heaven like a dove in flight. Grant through her merits and her prayers that we may so live in innocence as to attain to joys everlasting. This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God forever and ever. Amen.