Book ReviewsMan of Blessing: a Life of St. Benedict

Book written by: Carmen Acevedo Butcher.  Paraclete Press.  180 pages.  Hardback.  March 2006.


In her book, Dr. Butcher explains that Pope Benedict chose his name because he admired Pope Benedict XV and St. Benedict.  Her writing is a modern day biography of St. Benedict, the founder of Western Monasticism.  She bases her biography on the Second Dialogues (ca. 593) of St. Gregory the Great in which St. Gregory collected information from monks who had lived with and known St. Benedict.  He also mixed Scripture and biographical information to create his biography on this saint.  This was not an unusual way of writing biographies about saints during the Middle Ages which is called hagiography.  the reader reads St. Gregory’s biography of St. Benedict and knows the Bible well enough he or she will see similarities. 


The name “Benedict” in Latin is “Benedictus” or in Hebrew “Baruch” - all which mean “blessed.”  Dr. Butcher discusses the name and then leads into the main source of her biography, St. Gregory the Great.  She provides a chronology of events involving St. Benedict and also quotes from books which St. Benedict might have read himself when he was studying in Rome.  She is presenting a biography of St. Benedict, but she is also setting him in the historical context of his day.


In an appendix to the book Dr. Butcher presents a summary of the Rule of St. Benedict chapter by chapter.  After that she presents short biographies of all the Popes who had the name Benedict.  Then two pages of endnotes and then there is a bibliography of books on Benedictinism or books connected with the history of Benedictines.  The author’s husband created the map of Italy for the book and a website


Carmen Acevedo Butcher received her Ph.D. in medieval studies from the University of Georgia in 1991.  She is a professor at Shorter College, Rome, Georgia.  She has won two Fullbright grants; the first being at University College of London and the second at Sogang University in Seoul, South Korea.  She is the translator of God of Mercy:  AElfric’s Sermons and Theology (2006); author of Incandescence:  365 Readings with Women Mystics (2005); co-authored Problems in the Origins and Development of the English Language (2004), Release and Restoration (2004), and she has written several articles.


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