Monday, February 8, 2010

Remembering St. Scholastica

I have a special devotion to St. Scholastica and always remember her on her feast day—February 10.

Hers is an interesting and charming story, told by no less than Pope St. Gregory the Great in his Dialogues. St. Scholastica, a 6th century abbess, was the sister of St. Benedict, the founder of Western monasticism. The brother and sister were very close (perhaps twins). They generally met once a year at a house near his monastery at Monte Cassino. On one occasion, they spent the day together. At the end of supper, she asked him to delay his return to his monastery until the next day so that they could continue praising God together. He said he couldn’t stay. She then prayed fervently to God to make her brother stay—and suddenly there was a great storm with thunder and lighting. He couldn’t leave. He said to Scholastica: "God forgive you, sister, what have you done?" She replied: "I asked a favor of you and you refused it. I asked it of God and he has granted it." So they spent that night speaking of the joys of heaven, and he left the next day. It was their last visit together on this earth. She died three days later—and Benedict, in his cell, saw her soul ascend to heaven in the form of a dove.

What shall we eat and drink to honor this great saint--and the holy Benedict? We cannot be sure just what Scholastica served her brother that last evening they ate together—but we can be quite sure that it included some simple monastic bread--and probably a glass of wine or two. (Wine is food, and was part of the monastic diet.)

The recipe for Monastery Bread is in A Continual Feast, on pp. 246-8. (Ann Vitz has been having some fun with it lately.)
And, like the nuns at St. Emma’s convent, let’s add that little bit of sugar for some extra sweetness.

Why my devotion to St. Scholastica? Some years ago, I was involved in an unpleasant quarrel. A peaceful resolution to it was offered to me and, despite some reluctance on my part (original sin, no doubt), I thought: "I should make peace on the feast of St. Scholastica."
I’ve always been glad I did.
I try to remember to thank her each year on her feastday for her heavenly inspiration.


  1. Oh and BECAUSE of that story, St. Scholastica is apparently the patron saint of SNOW DAYS!!!
    Hahahah anytime there is the possibility of snow, all my 5th grade students say a prayer to St. Scholastica to have a snow day!

    And guess what---- looks like we may very well have a snow day on the 10th!
    Guess my girls are praying hard!

  2. I guess they are! (Always good to promote prayer!)

  3. What a touching personal story! Indeed wine is food, and the Rule of St Benedict originally allows for a hemina of wine (approximately 0,25 liters) daily.

  4. Gregory's comment on the Lord granting Scholastica's wish was something like "She had the greater love, so she was given more" - i.e. that special last day with her beloved brother.