St. Scholastica Biography

St. Scholastica was the twin sister of the great St. Benedict.  She consecrated herself to God from her earliest youth.  Where her first monastery was situated is not mentioned; but after her brother went to Monte Cassino, she chose her retreat at Plombariola, in that neighborhood.  While there 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.  After one of them was over, Scholastica, perhaps foreseeing that it would be their last meeting in this world or at least desirous of some further spiritual improvement, was very urgent with her brother that he delay his return until the next day that they might entertain themselves until 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, a breach of monastic discipline.  Scholastica, finding him resolved on going home, laid her hands joined upon the table and her head upon them and, 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 later St. Scholastica died in her solitude.  St. Benedict, who was then alone in contemplation on Monte Cassino, lifted up his eyes to heaven and 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 that he had prepared for himself.  St. Scholastica must have died about the year 543 AD.  

Louis 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.  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 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. 

The Feast of St. Scholastica is celebrated on February 10.