Denver, Colo., Jul 8, 2012 / 06:24 am
On July 11, the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of Saint Benedict of Nursia, the sixth-century abbot who gave Christian monasticism its lasting foundation in Western Europe.
For his historic role as the "Father of Western Monasticism," St. Benedict was declared a co-patron of Europe (along with Saints Cyril and Methodius). St. Benedict is also the patron saint of Pope Benedict XVI's pontificate.
In a 2005 general audience, the Pope said St. Benedict was a "powerful reminder of the indispensable Christian roots" of Europe. He cited the monk's instruction to "prefer nothing to the love of Christ," and asked his intercession "to help us keep Christ firmly at the heart of our lives."
Born to upper-class parents in modern-day Italy during the year 480, Benedict was sent to Rome to study the humanities. However, he soon became disgusted with the loose morals that prevailed among the students. Withdrawing from the city, he lived briefly with a group of monks, then as a hermit.