February was always cold and dark, but one thing enlivened the somber time before spring: Benedict could make his annual five-mile journey to visit Scholastica.
St. Scholastica and St. Benedict were twins, born in 480 to a Nursian family. From a very young age, Scholastica dedicated her life to God; when Benedict settled with his new community of monks on Monte Cassino, she founded a community for women close by. Both monasteries lived under the Rule which Benedict had formed.
Year after year, brother and sister had spent one day per year together, discussing profound theological matters and then parting at dusk. The arrangement had stood for so long that neither even thought of questioning it.
Now, that short February day in 543 was drawing to a close. Benedict and the two or three monks who had accompanied him stood and prepared to return to Monte Cassino.
Then the unthinkable happened.
Scholastica, watching them sadly, said, “Won’t you stay a little longer just this once, brother?”
Benedict, astonished, said it wasn’t possible for them to stay.
Scholastica bowed her head in silence for a moment; when she lifted it, she smiled at him.
CRASH. Thunder boomed over their heads; sudden torrents of rain dropped from the sky and pounded on the roof, scouring away the dirt on the path outside.
Benedict turned to his serene sister, wonder written on his face. “God forgive you, sister!” he said. “What have you done?”
“I beseeched God to make you stay,” she said matter-of-factly.
There was nothing to be done but remain. The rest of the night was spent in blissful conversation, and by morning the torrential downpour had stopped. The monks returned to Monte Cassino.
Only three days later, Benedict saw something like a snowy dove winging its way up into the sky. He knew it was Scholastica’s soul, and thanked God for her entrance into heaven.
All this explains why Scholastica wanted more time with her brother: she must have known that the end of life was fast approaching.
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