FEAST OF SAINT SCHOLASTICA, VIRGIN AND RELIGIOUS
FEAST DAY – 10th FEBRUARY
St. Scholastica was born in Nursia, Italy, of wealthy parents, on 2 March 480 AD and died on 10 February 543 AD. She is the twin sister of St. Benedict. As a young woman she consecrated herself to God, and she remained at home to assist her father while her brother Benedict went to Rome to study.
A young Roman woman of Scholastica’s class and time would likely have remained in her father’s house until marriage (likely arranged) or enter into consecrated life. In those times, women who wished to live a more intense spiritual life did so on their own, in seclusion, or a few consecrated women would live together. St. Scholastica founded a house for women religious, a convent, at Plombariola only five miles south of Monte Casino.
Scholastica expanded the dimension of communal life. She gathered women who wished to focus more exclusively on God into larger groups, usually younger virgins and older widows. They were able to separate themselves from the concerns and temptations of the world to concentrate on a prayerful life, mutually supporting each other in good works to which they were dedicated.
St. Benedict was the abbot or superior of the monastery, and St. Scholastica was the abbess or superior of the convent. Even though they lived separately they stayed in close communication and shared a strong spiritual bond. Once each year they met for a single day to pray and discuss spiritual matters, and because Scholastica was not permitted to enter the monastery, their meeting took place at a home between the two.
They had a remarkable final meeting. Scholastica was advanced in age and had a premonition that her time was short, so after dinner she asked her brother to stay longer. The Benedictine Rule requires a monk to be in the monastery every night, so Benedict declined. Scholastica said a quick prayer and almost instantly a violent thunderstorm broke out which forced Benedict to remain indoors. Benedict exclaimed, “Sister, what have you done?” She answered, “I asked a favor of you and you refused it. I asked it of God and he has granted it.”
Three days later St. Scholastica died and St. Benedict, who was praying at that moment, looked up and saw her soul ascending to heaven in the form of a dove. Scholastica is the patron saint of Benedictine nuns, education, and convulsive children, and is invoked against storms and rain. Her feast is celebrated on February 10, as Saint Scholastica’s Day, which bears special importance in the Benedictine monastic calendar.
In iconography, Scholastica is often represented as an abbess, in Benedictine habit and holding the Rule of Saint Benedict, a crucifix or a dove. She was selected as the main motif for a high value commemorative coin: the Austria €50 ‘The Christian Religious Orders’, issued 13 March 2002. On the obverse (heads) side of the coin Scholastica is depicted with St Benedict. Scholastica is remembered in the Church of England with a commemoration on 10 February. St. Scholastica is considered the founder of the Benedictine sisters.
O God, you caused the soul of your blessed virgin Scholastica to enter heaven in the form of a dove, to show us the way of innocence. Grant us, by her prayers and merits, to live in such innocence, that we may deserve to attain eternal joys.
Through Jesus Christ, your Son our Lord, Who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen
Saint Scholastica, pray for us.