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Saint Scholastica
Andrea Mantegna 019.jpg
Saint Scholastica from the San Luca Altarpiece
Bornc. 480
Nursia, Umbria, Italy
Died10 February 543
near Monte Cassino
Venerated in Catholic Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
Episcopal Church
Canonized Pre-Congregation
Feast 10 February
Attributes nun with crozier and crucifix; nun with dove flying from her mouth [1]
Patronage Patroness of Benedictine women's communities; school; tests; books; reading; convulsive children; nuns; invoked against storms and rain; Le Mans

Scholastica (c. 480 – 10 February 543) is a saint of the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches. She is honored in the Episcopal Church's calendar of saints. She was born in Italy. According to a ninth century tradition, she was the twin sister of Benedict of Nursia. [2] Her feast day is 10 February.

Saint one who has been recognized for having an exceptional degree of holiness, sanctity, and virtue

A saint is a person who is recognized as having an exceptional degree of holiness or likeness or closeness to God. However, the use of the term "saint" depends on the context and denomination. In Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, Oriental Orthodox, and Lutheran doctrine, all of their faithful deceased in Heaven are considered to be saints, but some are considered worthy of greater honor or emulation; official ecclesiastical recognition, and consequently veneration, is given to some saints through the process of canonization in the Catholic Church or glorification in the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Catholic Church Largest Christian church, led by the Bishop of Rome

The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's oldest and largest continuously functioning international institution, it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope. Its central administration, the Holy See, is in the Vatican City, an enclave within the city of Rome in Italy.

The veneration of saints in the Episcopal Church is a continuation of an ancient tradition from the early Church which honors important and influential people of the Christian faith. The usage of the term "saint" is similar to Roman Catholic and Orthodox traditions. Those in high church or Anglo-Catholic traditions may explicitly invoke saints as intercessors in prayer, though saints are mainly recognized in the Episcopal Church as merely examples in history of good Christian people.



According to the Dialogues of Gregory the Great, Scholastica was born c. 480 in Nursia, Umbria, of wealthy parents and with a twin brother St Benedict, Anicius Eupropius and his wife Claudia Abondantia Reguardati. While Gregory states that Scholastica was Benedict's sister, a later tradition, says she was his twin. Whether this is meant biologically or allegorically (spiritually) or both is not clear. Gregory the Great says she was dedicated to God from a young age. She and her brother Benedict were brought up together until the time he left to pursue studies in Rome. [3]

Rome Capital of Italy

Rome is the capital city and a special comune of Italy. Rome also serves as the capital of the Lazio region. With 2,872,800 residents in 1,285 km2 (496.1 sq mi), it is also the country's most populated comune. It is the fourth most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. It is the centre of the Metropolitan City of Rome, which has a population of 4,355,725 residents, thus making it the most populous metropolitan city in Italy. Rome is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, within Lazio (Latium), along the shores of the Tiber. The Vatican City is an independent country inside the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city: for this reason Rome has been often defined as capital of two states.

A young Roman woman of Scholastica's class and time would likely have remained in her father's house until marriage (likely arranged) or entry into religious life. But wealthy women could inherit property, divorce, and were generally literate. On occasion several young women would live together in a household and form a religious community. [2]

Benedictine tradition holds that Scholastica established a hermitage about five miles from Monte Cassino and that this was the first "Benedictine" convent. [4] However, it has been suggested that it is more likely that she lived in a hermitage with one or two other religious women in a cluster of houses at the base of Mount Cassino where there is an ancient church named after her (Monastero di Santa Scolastica). Ruth Clifford Engs notes that since Dialogues indicates that Scholastica was dedicated to God at an early age, perhaps she lived in her father's house with other religious women until his death and then moved nearer to Benedict. [2]

Monte Cassino Rocky hill about 130 kilometres (81 mi) southeast of Rome, Italy.

Monte Cassino is a rocky hill about 130 kilometres (81 mi) southeast of Rome, in the Latin Valley, Italy, 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) to the west of the town of Cassino and 520 m (1,706.04 ft) altitude. Site of the Roman town of Casinum, it is best known for its abbey, the first house of the Benedictine Order, having been established by Benedict of Nursia himself around 529. It was for the community of Monte Cassino that the Rule of Saint Benedict was composed.

Narrative from the Dialogues

Benedict and Scholastica, Klosterkirche Elchingen Klosterkirche Elchingen 10.jpg
Benedict and Scholastica, Klosterkirche Elchingen

The most commonly told story about her is that she would, once a year, go and visit her brother at a place near his abbey, and they would spend the day worshiping together and discussing sacred texts and issues. [5]

One day they had supper and continued their conversation. When Benedict indicated it was time for him to leave, perhaps sensing the time of her death was drawing near, Scholastica asked him to stay with her for the evening so they could continue their discussions. Not wishing to break his own Rule, Benedict refused, insisting that he needed to return to his cell. At that point, Scholastica closed her hands in prayer, and after a moment, a wild storm started outside of the guest house in which they were housed. 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. [5]

Three days later, from his cell, he saw his sister's soul leaving the earth and ascending to heaven in the form of a shining white dove. [6] Benedict had her body brought to his monastery, where he caused it to be laid in the tomb which he had prepared for himself. [5]

The Anglo-Saxon bishop and scholar, Aldhelm recounts the story in both the De Laude Virginitatis, written for the nuns at Barking, and in the shorter Carmen de virginitate.


What is known of Scholastica derives from the Dialogues of Gregory the Great. Pearse A. Cusack argues that she is a literary invention on the part of Gregory to demonstrate that love supersedes law. [7] Early calendars and place names in the area around Monte Cassino suggest that she did exist. [8] Gregory names as his sources four of Benedict's contemporaries. Caesarius of Arles, wrote Regula virginum (Rule for Virgins), the first rule drawn up for women living in community, for his sister, Caesaria. [9]


Scholastica is the foundress of the women's branch of Benedictine Monasticism.

She was selected as the main motif for a high value commemorative coin: the Austria €50 'The Christian Religious Orders', issued 13 March 2002. On the obverse (heads) side of the coin Scholastica is depicted alongside Benedict. In iconography, Scholastica is often represented as an abbess, in a black habit and holding a book or a dove. [10]

Scholastica is the patron saint of nuns, education, and convulsive children, and is invoked against storms and rain. Her memorial is 10 February.

See also

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  1. "Patron Saints Index: Saint Scholastica". Archived from the original on 7 February 2012. Retrieved 20 May 2012.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  2. 1 2 3 "Engs, Ruth Clifford. "St. Scholastica: Finding Meaning in her Story", St. Meinrad, In: Abbey Press, 2003
  3. Boo O.S.B., Mary Richard and Braun O.S.B., Joan M., "Emerging from the Shadows: St. Scholastica", Medieval Women Monastics, (Miriam Schmitt, Linda Kulzer, eds) Liturgical Press, 1996 ISBN   9780814622926
  4. "Saint Scholastica", Order of Saint Benedict
  5. 1 2 3 Gregory the Great. Dialogues, Book II, Chapter 33
  6. Gregory the Great. Dialogues, Book II, Chapter 34
  7. Cusack O.Cist., Pearse Aidan "St. Scholastica: Myth or Real Person?", The Downside Review, 92, (1974), 145-159
  8. Beau, A., Le Culte et les reliques de Saint Benoît et de Sainte Scholastique, Abadia de Montserrat/University of Virginia, (1979) ISBN   9788472023666
  9. Shahan, Thomas. "St. Caesarius of Arles." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 3. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. 10 February 2018
  10. Lexikon der christlichen Ikonographie, (Kirschbaum and Bandmann, eds.),8.315-16