Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Solemnity of the Passing of St. Benedict

From "the Life and Miracles of St. Benedict:Book II of The Dialogues" by Pope St. Gregory the Great.

Chapter 37

In the year that was to be his last, the man of God foretold the day of his holy death to a number of his disciples. In mentioning it to some who were with him in the monastery, he bound them to strict secrecy. Some others, however, who were stationed elsewhere he only informed of the special sign they would receive at the time of his death.

Six days before he died, he gave orders for his tomb to be opened. Almost immediately he was seized with a violent fever that rapidly wasted his remaining energy. Each day his condition grew worse until finally, on the sixth day, he had his disciples carry him into the chapel where he received the Body and Blood of our Lord to gain strength for his approaching end. Then, supporting his weakened body on the arms of his brethren, he stood with his hands rasied to heaven and, as he prayed, breathed his last.

That day two monks, one of them at the moastery, the other some distance away, received the very same revelation. They both saw a magnificent road covered with rich carpeting and glittering with thousands of lights. From his monastery it stretched eastward in a straight line until it reached up into heaven. And there in the brightness stood a man of majestic appearance, who asked them, "Do you know who passed this way?"

"No," they replied.

"This, he told them is the road taken by blessed Benedict, the Lord's beloved, when he went to heaven."

Thus, while the brethern who were with Benedict witnessed his death, those who were absent knew about it through the sign he had promised them. His body was laid to rest in the Chapel of St. John the Baptist, which he had built to replace the altar of Apollo.

When  I came to Mount Michael's chapel for first vespers of this solemnity, I read this passage and saw the following. It really was pretty awesome.

Our forsythia is in full bloom for this solemnity!

The painting below of St. Benedict was done by Br. Nicolas Oramas, a Mexican Benedictine from Cuernavaca, Mexico.

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