BENEDICT (Saint) Abbot. (March 21) (6th century) The Patriarch of the Western monks, born at Norcia in Central Italy (A.D. 480), of the noble family of the Anicii. In early youth he retired into a cave in the mountains of Subiaco near Rome, where, clothed with the religious habit, fed and instructed by Saint Romanus, a Solitary of the vicinity, he led a hermit’s life. After three years of solitude, he built at Subiaco twelve monasteries for the numerous disciples that had gathered round him. In the year 529 he left Subiaco for Monte Cassino, on the road to Naples, and there founded the great Abbey of that name, an event which marked in some sense a landmark in the history of religious life in Europe. Saint Gregory the Great, who wrote the Life of Saint Benedict, mentions also a monastery of nuns presided over by the Saint’s sister, Saint Scholastica. The Rule written by Saint Benedict, in the course of a hundred years or so, was accepted by all the Western monks. It shows the way to religious perfection by the practice of humility, obedience, prayer, silence and retirement from the concerns of the world. Saint Benedict died (A.D. 543), standing before the Altar, immediately after having received Holy Communion. In art he is represented holding a book on which Is a serpent, In allusion to one of the miracles he wrought, or with a raven at his feet.