Feb. 10, 2019

February 10, 2019: ST. SCHOLASTICA



[Sister of St. Benedict]


Let all the assembly of the Faithful rejoice at the glory of the venerable virgin Scholastica; but, above the rest, let the choirs of virgins be glad, as they celebrate the feast of her who besought her Lord with many tears, and had more power with him, because she had more love.

On this day, the holy virgin Scholastica took her flight, in the shape of a dove, all joyfully to heaven: on this day, she is enjoying, with her Brother, the eternal joys of the heavenly life she so well deserves.



℟. The venerable Scholastica, the Sister of the most holy Father Benedict,
*Being from her very infancy consecrated to Almighty God, never left the path of righteousness.

℣. O ye children! praise the Lord; praise ye the Name of the Lord.
*Being from her very infancy consecrated to Almighty God, never left the path of righteousness.

℟. Anxious to be trained by the saintly life and the words of his holy teaching, she used to visit him once a year:
*And the man of God instructed her in heavenly doctrine.

℣. Blessed is he that heareth Benedict's words, and keepeth those things which he hath written.
*And the man of God instructed her in heavenly doctrine.

℟. The holy virgin Scholastica, like a watered garden,
*was enriched with the ceaseless dew of heaven's graces.

℣. Like a fountain of water whose stream shall not fail.
*was enriched with the ceaseless dew of heaven's graces.

℟. The Lord granted her the desire of her heart:
*And from Him she obtained what her Brother refused.

℣. The Lord is good to all them that trust in him, to the soul that seeketh him.
*And from Him she obtained what her Brother refused.

℟. The Bridegroom tarrying, Scholastica moaned, saying:
*Who will give me the wings of a dove, and I will fly and take my rest?

℣. Lo! my beloved speaketh unto me: Arise, my love, and come.
*Who will give me the wings of a dove, and I will fly and take my rest?

℟. Scholastica was seen in the form of a dove, and the Brother's glad soul sang hymns and praises beyond measure:
*Blessed be such a departure, and still more blessed such an entrance!

℣. Father Benedict was filled with heavenly joy.
*Blessed be such a departure, and still more blessed such an entrance!

℟. Scholastica's soul went forth, like a dove, from the ark of her body, bearing an olive branch, the sign of peace and grace.
*She took her flight to heaven.

℣. She found not whereon to rest her feet.
*She took her flight to heaven.


Prayer (Collect).

O God, who, to recommend to us innocence of life, wast pleased to let the soul of thy blessed Virgin Scholastica ascend to heaven in the Shape of a dove: grant, by her merits and prayers, that we may lead innocent lives here, and come to thy eternal joys hereafter. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.


The Sister of the Patriarch. Saint Benedict comes to us to-day, sweetly inviting us to follow her to heaven. Apollonia the Martyr is succeeded by Scholastica the fervent daughter of the Cloister. Both of them are the Spouses of Jesus, both of them wear a crown, for both of them fought hard, and won the palm. Apollonia's battle was with cruel persecutors, and in those hard times when one had to die to conquer; Scholastica's combat was the life-long struggle, whose only truce is the soldier's dying breath. The Martyr and the Nun are sisters now in the Heart of Him they both so bravely loved.

God, in his infinite wisdom, gave to St. Benedict a faithful co-operatrix,—a Sister of such angelic gentleness of character, that she would be a sort of counterpoise to the Brother, whose vocation, as the Legislator of monastic life, needed a certain dignity of grave and stern resolve. We continually meet with these contrasts in the lives of the Saints; and they show us that there is a link, of which flesh and blood know nothing; a link which binds two souls together, gives them power, harmonises their differences of character, and renders each complete. Thus it is in heaven with the several hierarchies of the Angels; a mutual love, which is founded on God himself, unites them together, and makes them live in the eternal happiness of the tenderest brotherly affection.

Scholastica's earthly pilgrimage was not a short one; and yet it has left us but the history of the Dove, which told the Brother, by its flight to heaven, that his Sister had reached the eternal home before him. We have to thank St. Gregory the Great for even this much, which he tells us as a sequel to the holy dispute she had with Benedict, three days previous to her death. But how admirable is the portrait thus drawn in St. Gregory's best style! We seem to understand the whole character of Scholastica:—an earnest simplicity, and a child-like eagerness, for what was worth her desiring it; an affectionate and unshaken confidence in God; a winning persuasiveness, where there was opposition to God's will, which, when it met such an opponent as Benedict, called on God to interpose, and gained its cause. The old poets tell us strange things about the swan, how sweetly it can sing when dying; how lovely must not have been the last notes of the Dove of the Benedictine Cloister, as she was soaring from earth to heaven!

But how came Scholastica, the humble retiring Nun, by that energy, which could make her resist the will of her Brother, whom she revered as her master and guide? What was it told her that her prayer was not a rash one, and that what she asked for was a higher good than Benedict's unflinching fidelity to the Rule he had written, and which it was his duty to teach by his own keeping it? Let us hear St. Gregory's answer: “It is not to be wondered at, that the Sister, who wished to prolong her Brother's stay, should have prevailed over him; for, whereas St. John tells us, that God is Charity, it happened by a most just judgment, that she that had the stronger love, had the stronger power.”

Our Season is appropriate for the beautiful lesson taught us by St. Scholastica,—fraternal charity. Her example should excite us to the love of our neighbour, that love which God bids us labour for, now that we are intent on giving Him our undivided service, and our complete conversion. The Easter Solemnity we are preparing for, is to unite us all in the grand Banquet, where we are all to feast on the one Divine Victim of Love. Let us have our nuptial garment ready; for He that invites us, insists on our having union of heart when we dwell in his House (Ps, lxvii. 7).


The Church has inserted in her Office of this Feast the account given by St. Gregory of the last interview between St. Scholastica and St Benedict. It is as follows:

From the second book of the Dialogues of Saint Gregory, Pope.

Scholastica was the Sister of the venerable father Benedict. She had been consecrated to Almighty God from her very infancy, and was accustomed to visit her Brother once a year. The man of God came down to meet her at a house belonging to the monastery, not far from the gate. It was the day for the usual visit, and her venerable Brother came down to her accompanied by some of his brethren. The whole day was spent in the praises of God and holy conversation; and at night-fall, they took their repast together. Whilst they were at table, and it grew late as they conferred with each other on sacred things, the holy Nun thus spoke to her Brother: “I beseech thee, stay the night with me, and let us talk till morning on the joys of heaven.” He replied: “What is this thou sayest, Sister? On no account may I remain out of the monastery.” The evening was so fair, that not a cloud could be seen in the sky. When, therefore, the holy Nun heard her Brother's refusal, she clasped her hands together, and, resting them on the table, she hid her face in them, and made a prayer to the God of all power. As soon as she raised her head from the table, there came down so great a storm of thunder and lightning, and rain, that neither the venerable Benedict, nor the brethren who were with him, could set foot outside the place where they were sitting.

The holy virgin had shed a flood of tears as she leaned her head upon the table, and the cloudless sky poured down the wished-for rain. The prayer was said, the rain fell in torrents; there was no interval; but so closely on each other were prayer and rain, that the storm came as she raised her head. Then the man of God, seeing that it was impossible to reach his monastery amidst all this lightning, thunder, and rain, was sad, and said complainingly: “God forgive thee, Sister! What hast thou done?” But she replied: “I asked thee a favour, and thou wouldst not hear me; I asked it of my God, and he granted it. Go, now, if thou canst, to the monastery, and leave me here!” But it was not in his power to stir from the place; so that, he who would not stay willingly, had to stay unwillingly, and spend the whole night with his Sister, delighting each other with their questions and answers about the secrets of spiritual life.

On the morrow, the holy woman returned to her monastery, and the man of God to his. When lo! three days after, he was in his cell; and raising his eyes, he saw the soul of his Sister going up to heaven, in the shape of a dove. Full of joy at her being thus glorified, he thanked his God in hymns of praise, and told the brethren of her death. He straightways bade them go and bring her body to the monastery; which having done, he had it buried in the tomb he had prepared for himself. Thus it was, that, as they had ever been one soul in God, their bodies were united in the same grave.


Another aacount of the Last Visit of St. Scholastica with her brother, St. Benedict.

About A.D. 543

This saint was sister to the great St. Benedict. She consecrated herself to God from her earliest youth, as St. Gregory testifies. Where her first monastery was situated is not mentioned; but after her brother removed to Mount Cassino, she chose her retreat at Plombariola, in that neighborhood, where she founded and governed a nunnery about five miles distant to the south from St. Benedict's monastery. St. Bertharius, who was abbot of Cassino three hundred years after, says, that she instructed in virtue several of her own sex. And whereas St. Gregory informs us, that St. Benedict governed nuns as well as monks, his sister must have been their abbess under his rule and direction. She visited her holy brother once a year, and as she was not allowed to enter his monastery, he went out with some of his monks to meet her at a house at some small distance. They spent these visits in the praises of God, and in conferring together on spiritual matters. St. Gregory relates a remarkable circumstance of the last of these visits. Scholastica having passed the day as usual in singing psalms, and pious discourse, they sat down in the evening to take their refection. After it was over, Scholastica, perhaps foreknowing it would be their last interview in this world, or at least desirous of some further spiritual improvement, was very urgent with her brother to delay his return till the next day, that they might entertain themselves till morning upon the happiness of the other life. St. Benedict, unwilling to transgress his rule, told her he could not pass a night out of his monastery: so desired her not to insist upon such a breach of monastic discipline. Scholastica, finding him resolved on going home, laying her hands joined upon the table and her head upon them, with many tears begged of Almighty God to interpose in her behalf. Her prayer was scarce ended, when there happened such a storm of rain, thunder, and lightning, that neither St. Benedict nor any of his companions could set a foot out of doors. He complained to his sister, saying: “God forgive you, sister; what have you done?” She answered: “I asked you a favor, and you refused it me: I asked it of Almighty God, and he has granted it me.” St. Benedict was therefore obliged to comply with her request, and they spent the night in conferences on pious subjects, chiefly on the felicity of the blessed, to which both most ardently aspired, and which she was shortly to enjoy. The next morning they parted, and three days after St. Scholastica died in her solitude. St. Benedict was then alone in contemplation on Mount Cassino, and lifting up his eyes to heaven, he saw the soul of his sister ascending thither in the shape of a dove. Filled with joy at her happy passage, he gave thanks for it to God, and declared her death to his brethren; some of whom he sent to bring her corpse to his monastery, where he caused it to be laid in the tomb which he had prepared for himself. She must have died about the year 543. Her relics are said to have been translated into France, together with those of St. Bennet, in the seventh century, according to the relation given by the monk Adrevald. They are said to have been deposited at Mans, and kept in the collegiate church of St. Peter in that city, in a rich silver shrine. In 1562 this shrine was preserved from being plundered by the Huguenots, as is related by Chatelain. Her principal festival at Mans is kept a holyday on the 11th of July, the day of the translation of her relics. She was honored in some places with an office of three lessons, in the time of St. Louis, as appears from a calendar of Longchamp, written in his reign.

Lewis of Granada, treating on the perfection of the love of God, mentions the miraculous storm obtained by St. Scholastica, to show with what excess of goodness God is always ready to hear the petitions and desires of his servants. This pious soul must have received strong pledges and most sensible tokens of his love, seeing she depended on receiving so readily what she asked of him. No child could address himself with so great confidence to his most tender parent. The love which God bears us, and his readiness to succor and comfort us, if we humbly confess and lay before him our wants, infinitely surpasses all that can be found in creatures. Nor can we be surprised that he so easily heard the prayer of this holy virgin, since at the command of Joshua he stopped the heavens, God obeying the voice of man! He hears the most secret desires of those that fear and love him, and does their will: if he sometimes seem deaf to their cries, it is to grant their main desire by doing what is most expedient for them, as St. Austin frequently observes. The short prayer by which St. Scholastica gained this remarkable victory over her brother, who was one of the greatest saints on earth, was doubtless no more than a single act of her pure desires, which she continually turned towards, and fixed on her beloved. It was enough for her to cast her eye interiorly upon him with whom she was closely and inseparably united in mind and affections, to move him so suddenly to change the course of the elements in order to satisfy her pious desire. By placing herself, as a docile scholar, continually at the feet of the Divine Majesty, who filled all the powers of her soul with the sweetness of his heavenly communications, she learned that sublime science of perfection in which she became a mistress to so many other chaste souls by this divine exercise. Her life in her retirement, to that happy moment which closed her mortal pilgrimage, was a continued uniform contemplation, by which all her powers were united to, and transformed into God.

Taken from: The Liturgical Year – Septuagesima, Edition 1870;
The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints, Vol. I, 1903; and
The Divine Office for the use of the Laity, Volume I, 1806.


St. Scholastica, pray for us.