ST. SCHOLASTICA, VIRGIN
From St. Gregory the Great, Dia1.1. 2, c. 33 and
34. About the year 543
THIS saint was sister to the great St. Benedict.
She consecrated herself to God from her earliest youth, as St.
Gregory testifies. Where her first monastery was situated is not
mentioned; but after her brother removed to Mount Cassino, she chose
her retreat at Plombariola, in that neighborhood, where she founded
and governed a nunnery about five miles distant to the south from St.
Benedict’s monastery.* St. Bertharius, who was abbot of Cassino
three hundred years after, says, that she instructed in virtue
several of her own sex. And whereas St. Gregory informs us, that St.
Benedict governed nuns as well as monks, his sister must have been
their abbess under his rule and direction. She visited her holy
brother once a year, and as she was not allowed to enter his
monastery, he went out with some of his monks to meet her at a house
at some small distance. They spent these visits in the praises of
God, and in conferring together on spiritual matters. St. Gregory
relates a remarkable circumstance of the last of these visits.
Scholastica having passed the day as usual in singing psalms, and
pious discourse, they sat down in the evening to take their
refection. After it was over, Scholastica perhaps foreknowing it
would be their last interview in this world, or at least desirous of
some further spiritual improvement, was very urgent with her brother
to delay his return till the next day, that they might entertain
themselves till morning upon the happiness of the other 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. 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 in 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 favor,
and you refused it me: I asked it of Almighty God, and he has granted
it me.” St. Benedict was therefore obliged to comply with her
request, and they spent the night in conferences on pious subjects,
chiefly on the felicity of the blessed, to which both most ardently
aspired, and which she was shortly to enjoy. The next morning they
parted, and three days after St. Scholastica died in her solitude.
St. Benedict was then alone in contemplation on Mount Cassino, and
lifting up his eyes to heaven, he saw the soul of his sister
ascending thither in the shape of a dove. Filled with joy at her
happy passage, he gave thanks for it to God, and declared her death
to his brethren; some of whom he sent to bring her corpse to his
monastery, where he caused it to be laid in the tomb which he had
prepared for himself. She must have died about the year 543. Her
relics are said to have been translated into France, together with
those of St. Bennet, in the seventh century, according to the
relation given by the monk Adrevald.1 They are said to have been
deposited at Mans, and kept in the collegiate church of St. Peter in
that city in a rich silver shrine.* In 1562 this shrine was preserved
from being plundered by the Huguenots, as is related by Chatelain.
Her principal festival at Mans is kept a holyday on the 11th of July,
the day of the translation of her relics. She was honored in some
places with an office of three lessons, in the time of St. Louis, as
appears from a calendar of Longchamp, written in his reign.
Lewis of Granada, treating on the perfection of
the love of God, mentions the miraculous storm obtained by St.
Scholastica, to show with what excess of goodness God is always ready
to hear the petitions and desires of his servants. This pious soul
must have received strong pledges and most sensible tokens of his
love, seeing she depended on receiving so readily what she asked of
him. No child could address himself with so great confidence to his
most tender parent. The love which God bears us, and his readiness to
succor and comfort us, if we humbly confess and lay before him our
wants infinitely surpasses all that can be found in creatures. Nor
can we be surprised that he so easily heard the prayer of this holy
virgin, since at the command of Joshua he stopped the heavens, God
obeying the voice of man. He hears the most secret desires of those
that fear and love him, and does their will: if he sometimes seem
deaf to their cries, it is to grant their main desire by doing what
is most expedient for them, as St. Austin frequently observes. The
short prayer by which St. Scholastica gained this remarkable victory
over her brother, who was one of the greatest saints on earth, was
doubtless no more than a single act of her pure desires, which she
continually turned towards, and fixed on her beloved. It was enough
for her to cast her eye interiorly upon him with whom she was closely
and inseparably united in mind and affections, to move him so
suddenly to change the course of the elements in order to satisfy her
pious desire. By placing herself, as a docile scholar, continually at
the feet of the Divine Majesty, who filled all the powers of her soul
with the sweetness of his heavenly communications, she learned that
sublime science of perfection in which she became a mistress to so
many other chaste souls by this divine exercise. Her life in her
retirement, to that happy moment which closed her mortal pilgrimage,
was a continued uniform contemplation, by which all her powers were
united to, and transformed into God.