February 10, 2024
St. Scholastica (480-543) was the twin sister of St. Benedict, the founder of the Benedictine Order. Benedict and Scholastica were born of wealthy parents in fifth-century Italy. They were raised together until Benedict left for Rome to continue his studies.
Scholastica was dedicated to God at an early age, though for a time she probably continued to stay with her parents. Some years later she left home and founded a religious order for women near Monte Cassino in central Italy, where Benedict had established his famous monastery. The twins used to visit each other once a year. Since Scholastica, as a woman, was not allowed inside the monastery, their meetings occurred in a nearby farmhouse. During these occasions Benedict and his sister spent hours discussing spiritual matters. In the last of these meetings, Scholastica implored her brother to stay the entire night with her, so that they could continue talking until morning about the joys of heaven.
Benedict refused, since that would mean he and the monks accompanying him would have to break his rule about not spending a night outside the monastery. Scholastica thereupon prayed, asking God that her brother might remain. In response to her prayer, a severe thunderstorm suddenly broke out, preventing the monks from leaving. Benedict cried out, “God forgive you, sister! What have you done?” Scholastica answered, “I asked a favor of you and you refused. I asked it of God and He granted it.” Benedict and Scholastica thus spent the night discussing the nature of Heaven — a fitting subject, for Scholastica was soon to experience its joys. Three days after this conversation Benedict was at prayer in his monastery when he saw the soul of his sister ascending to Heaven in the form of a dove. Benedict then announced her death to his monks, and later buried her in the tomb he had prepared for himself.
1. Sibling rivalry — while a very common condition in many families — is not supposed to prevent spiritual growth. Just as parents are supposed to help their children grow in holiness, so brothers and sisters are meant to be a good influence upon one another.
2. When her brother denied her request, St. Scholastica was confident enough to turn to God in prayer. She recalled Jesus’ words, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Mt 7:7).
image: Rijksmuseum, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons