We have to rely on the what Pope Gregory the Great wrote in his Dialogues for information about today’s saint, St Scholastica. She was the twin sister of St Benedict. Pope Gregory wrote his Dialogues some forty years after Benedict’s death. We get some sense of what sort of person Scholastica was from one famous incident that we can read of in the Office of Readings. She lived a convent near her brother and once a year she would visit her brother in a house near the monastery because as a woman she was not allow in the monastery. These visits were devoted to talking on spiritual matters and praising God. One particular year she had a premonition that this would be the last time they would meet. She begged her brother to stay the night so that they could continue their dialogue. Benedict said that his Rule made this impossible for him. Here are St Gregory’s words about what happened then.
“When she heard her brother refuse her request, the holy woman joined her hands on the table, laid her head on them and began to pray. As she raised her head from the table, there were such brilliant flashes of lightning, such great peals of thunder and such a heavy downpour of rain that neither Benedict nor his brethren could stir across the threshold of the place where they had been seated. Sadly he began to complain: “May God forgive you, sister. What have you done?” “Well,” she answered, “I asked you and you would not listen; so I asked my God and he did listen. So now go off, if you can, leave me and return to your monastery.”
So they continued their discussions on the joys of heaven and three days later Benedict, sitting in his cell saw her soul rise to heaven in a form of dove. He sent monks to collect her body, which was placed in tomb he had prepared. When Benedict died four years later, he was buried with her.
Although they were twins, what brought them close to each other was their mutual love of Christ. St Scholastica is the patron saint of Benediction nuns. As one writer said of them “to this day they can provide convincing demonstrations of bowing one’s head and getting one’s way”. Let us pray especially today for the community of Benedictine nuns at St Mildred’s Priory, Minister Abbey at Minster-in Thanet.
We thank God for their prayerful presence among us.