Saint Scholastica

Death of St Scholastica by Johann Baptist Wenzel Bergl

Saint Scholastica

Saint Scholastica (Santa Scholastica) is said to be the twin sister of St Benedict, the founder of Western monasticism. She is a saint recognised by the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Churches.

The twins came from a very affluent family of Norcia (Nursia), in the province of Perugia, southwestern of Umbria, Italy.

The twins were quite religious from an early age.  They were inseparable until St Benedict had to leave for Rome for further studies.

Later on after St Benedict founded his first monastery in Monte Cassino, St Scholastica also headed a female version (nuns) of the Benedictine monastery just a few miles from Monte Cassino.

St Scholastica Reliquary, V&A Museum, photo by JMorton

The above is a reliquary, a container of holy relics.  The hand is shown holding a bird, which is reminiscent of how St Benedict saw the soul/spirit of his dead sister as she ascended into heaven in the form of a dove.

The above St Scholastica reliquary was made from silver and originated in Spain and now proudly displayed at the Victroria and Albert Museum.  It is quite spectacular.  The little glass hole was once used to view the relic from St Scholastica’s left arm.

St Scholastica is the patron saint of nuns, convulsive children, schools, tests, books, reading (there are many schools and colleges named after St Scholastica).  She is also the saint to invoke against storms and rain.

There was a mystical  story regarding St Scholastica and St Benedict.  Apparently the twins met up once a year in an inn inbetween their respective monasteries.

St Scholastica begged her brother to stay with her for the evening so they can continue praying and discussing religious matters.  But St Benedict refused; he was adamant, he had a rule of spending the nights in his cell in his monastery.

With clasped hands, St Scholastica prayed in earnest, there was suddenly heavy rain and storm, making it impossible for St Benedict to leave.

St Benedict was not very pleased! Benedict asked, “What have you done?”, to which she replied, “I asked you and you would not listen; so I asked my God and he did listen. So now go off, if you can, leave me and return to your monastery.” Benedict was unable to return to his monastery, and they spent the night in discussion.[

Three days later, St Scholastica passed away; St Benedict saw the dove flying into the heavenly blue yonder instinctively knowing that it was his sister.

St Benedict ordered for his sister’s body to be brought into his monastery for burial in the space he allotted for himself.  In the end they were buried together as St Benedict also passed away not too long after.

Her feast day is 10 February!

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