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Saint Scholastica, Virgin

February 10 (About the year 543 A.D.)

This saint was sister to the great Saint Benedict. She consecrated herself to God from her earliest youth, as Saint Gregory testifies. Where her first monastery was situated is not mentioned; but after her brother moved to Monte Cassino she chose her retreat at Plombariola, where she founded and governed a nunnery about five miles to the south of Saint Benedict's monastery. Saint Bertharius, who was Abbot of Monte Cassino three hundred years after, says that she instructed in virtue several of her own sex. And whereas Saint Gregory informs us that Saint 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. Saint Gregory relates a remarkable circumstance on the last of these visits. Having passed the day as usual in singing psalms and pious discourse, they sat down in the evening to eat. After it was over, Scholastica, perhaps knowing it would be their last interview in this world, or at least eager for some further spiritual improvement, was very insistent with her brother to delay his return till the next day, so they might entertain themselves till morning upon the happiness of the other life. Saint Benedict, unwilling to transgress his rule, told her he could not pass a night out of his monastery, so he asked her not to insist upon such a breach of monastic discipline. Scholastica, finding him determined to go home, joined her hands, laid them on the table, placed her head upon them and, with many tears, begged Almighty God to interpose in her behalf. Her prayer was barely ended when there came such a storm of rain, thunder, and lightning, that neither Saint 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 a favor of you, and you refused me; I asked it of Almighty God, and He has granted it.” Saint Benedict was therefore obliged to comply with her request, and they spent the night in conferences on pious subjects, chiefly on the happiness of the blessed, to which both most ardently aspired, and which she was soon to enjoy.

The next morning they parted, and three days later Saint Scholastica died in her solitude. Saint Benedict was then alone in contemplation on Monte Cassino, and lifting up his eyes to Heaven, he saw the soul of his sister ascending 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 laid her in the tomb which he had prepared for himself. She died about the year 543.

Louis of Granada mentions the miraculous storm obtained by Saint 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. The love which God bears us, and His readiness to 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. He hears the most secret desires of those that fear and love Him, and does their will: if He sometimes seems deaf to their cries, it is to grant their main desire by doing what is most expedient for them. The short prayer by which Saint 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 toward, and fixed on her Beloved. 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.