St Benedict and his Rule

St Benedict was born in Nursia in Italy in about AD 480. The youthful Benedict felt a call to the monastic life while he was studying in Rome. He went into the rocky wilderness of Subiaco and lived as a hermit in a cave on the heights there. His evident holiness attracted disciples and he soon found himself Father or Abbot of a monastic settlement; he was moving from the hermit life toward the cenobitical or community monastic life.

In about AD 520 Benedict founded the mountain monastery of Monte Cassino. Here he wrote the Rule for monks based on the Gospels and the experience of his monastic predecessors. This short book of seventy three brief chapters is one of the world's spiritual masterpieces. So wise and balanced was the Rule that it quickly supplanted all others and became the basic text for all the monks of the West.


St Benedict became considered as the founder of the Black Monks of the Middle Ages, called from that time ‘Benedictines'. A way of life based on discipline and order, obedience and humility, a regular round of daily worship and personal prayers, work and study, love of the brethren, stability in a fixed monastic community, living under a Rule and an Abbot, is shown in the Rule. It is founded on the underlying Gospel truths and is characterized by a deep personal devotion to Christ. In the mind of St Benedict a monk is a man who comes to the monastery to ‘Seek God'.

Suited to every age, the Rule is today as fresh and vigorous as ever, for its wisdom, drawn from the Gospel, is timeless. It is constantly being adapted to modern life and still leads men and women to Christian perfection. Generations have found in St Benedict's Rule a sure guide for their journey to God.