ST. BBENEDICT: HIDDEN MEANING IN HIS STORY
By Ruth Clifford Engs
St. Benedict of Nursia, the founder of western monasticism, compiled the Rule of St. Benedict (RB), a guide for monastic organizations and common-sense living. Numerous works over the centuries have been written about RB and St. Benedict. Although myth and legend surround him, being familiar with scholarly arguments and knowing the meaning of some symbols provide deeper understanding of the stories of his life and Benedictine spirituality.
More importantly, many lessons for daily living are found in his stories. Some examples include the concepts of perseverance and stability for a fulfilling life, and its paradox of retreating in order to persevere in a spiritual path and become grounded. This essay focuses on St. Benedict’s story during his early years, when he matures spiritually amid hardships, trials and persecution.
St. Benedict’s life is described in the Dialogues, Book II (D II), which tradition suggests was written by Pope Gregory I, also known as Gregory the Great (c. 540-604). The Dialogues is the earliest known reference to St. Benedict and it introduced Benedict and his Rule throughout
Europein the early Middle Ages (600-1000 ce).