St Scholastica (480-543)
Feast day: 10th February
Patron Saint of Those Who Experience Convulsions
Whilst we are still fresh from contemplating the great glory of Our God revealed to us on the great feast of the Epiphany, the sheer love that drove ‘God to become Man so that Man might become God’(1), it is today that Holy Mother Church celebrates St Scholastica. St Scholastica is the foundress of the Benedictine order of nuns, and sister of St Benedict, the Father of western monasticism. This brother and sister set up the framework which continues to raise so many saints, and in the process, preserved the knowledge of ages past (including that of Medicine) to set up the flowering of Western Civilisation after the fall of the Roman Empire around the 6th century.
One of the more famous stories recounted by Pope St Gregory of this humble nun is quite relatable to anyone who has ever had a sister:
‘St Benedict used to visit St Scholastica once a year outside of his monastery. During the last of these visits, Scholastica, perhaps foreknowing it would be their last interview in this world, or at least desirous of some further spiritual improvement, insisted that her brother delay his return till the next day, that they might entertain themselves till morning upon the happiness of the spiritual 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. St. 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 on 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 favour, and you refused it me; I asked it of Almighty God, and he has granted them to me.” Three days later, St Scholastica passed on to her eternal reward, and St Benedict, at that time in contemplation in his monastery, saw his sister’s soul ascending to Heaven in the shape of a dove. He immediately gathered his brothers and made arrangements for her body to be buried in a tomb he had prepared for himself. ‘(2)
So it is with our eternal Father, Who loves us so tenderly that we only have to lay bare our desires and needs before him as confidently as a child before his most tender parents, and He is willing to move Heaven and Earth to fulfil them if it be to our benefit.
Let us then in our daily duties as healers, be as St Scholastica, humble and yet bold in her prayers to God, confident and yet resigned to the Will of God, who is Love.
May we, by the intercession St Scholastica, be healers not only of the body but of the spirit, and if it pleases Almighty God, healers of our culture, in our daily ‘work and prayer’(3).
St Scholastica, pray for us!
1) St. Athanasius, De inc. 54, 3: PG 25, 192B
2) Vol. I of “The Lives or the Fathers, Martyrs and Other Principal Saints” by the Rev. Alban Butler, the 1864 edition published by D. & J. Sadlier, & Company
3) ‘Ora et Labora’- the ancient motto of the Benedictine order.
Image: By Circle of Ignaz Günther (Germany, Bavaria, 1725-1775)
– written by a medical student