Death of St Scholastica by Johann Baptist Wenzel Bergl
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.
Today, March 1st is Saint David’s Day. The patron saint of Wales.
The first day of March was chosen in remembrance of the death of Saint David as traditionally it is believed that he might have died on that day in 569, 588 or even 589; the date is uncertain.
St David (Dewi Sant) was a Celtic monk, abbot and bishop, who lived in the sixth century. He spread the word of Christianity across Wales.
A famous story about Saint David tells how he was preaching to a huge crowd and the ground is said to have risen up, so that he was standing on a hill and everyone had a better chance of hearing and seeing him.
He was born towards the end of the 5th century. He was of the royal house of Ceredigion, and founded a Celtic monastic community at Glyn Rhosyn (The Vale of Roses) on the western headland of Pembrokeshire (Sir Benfro) where St David’s Cathedral stands today. David was famous for being a teacher. His monastery at Glyn Rhosin became an important Christian shrine and important centre in Wales. Before his death, Saint David is said to have uttered these words: “Brothers be ye constant. The yoke which with single mind ye have taken, bear ye to the end; and whatsoever ye have seen with me and heard, keep and fulfil.”
The Welsh Flag flown over churches etc.
Welsh ex-pats around the world celebrate St David’s Day. The daffodil & the leek are the national emblem of Wales and badges of which are worn with pride.
Daffodil the national flower of Wales, Photo by PH Morton
Why a leek as an emblem? One theory is that St David advised the Welsh, on the eve of battle with the Saxons, to wear leeks in their caps to distinguish friend from the enemy. Shakespeare mentions in Henry V, that the Welsh archers (fearsome for the power and accuracy of their legendary long bows,) wore leeks at the battle with the French at Agincourt in 1415.
Leeks the national emblem of Wales
The traditional meal on St David’s Day is cawl. This is a soup that is made of leek and other locally grown produce.
Another symbol of Wales is the iconic Welsh Dragon in Welsh- Y Ddraig Goch (“the red dragon”)
It appears on the national flag of Wales. The flag is also called Y Ddraig Goch.
The Historia Brittonum(History of Britons written around 828) records the first use of the dragon to symbolise Wales.
The Dragon was popularly supposed to have been the battle standard of the legendary King Arthur other ancient Celtic leaders. archaeological literature, and documentary history suggests that it evolved from an earlier Romano-British national symbol. During the reigns of the Tudor Monarchs, the red dragon was used as a symbol of support in the English Crown’s coat of arms (one of two supporters, along with the traditional English lion). The red dragon is often seen as symbolising all things Welsh, and flags are flown by many public and private institutions in Wales and some in London too.