St. Benedict, born in Nursia, Italy, around the year 480, was the founder of the Benedictine order and is the patron saint of Europe. People throughout the world revere him as the founder of Western monasticism and celebrate his feast day on July 11th.
Benedict was the son of wealthy Roman parents, who sent him to study in Rome. He was repelled by the sinful atmosphere there and decided to become a hermit, retiring to a cave near the town of Subiaco. He founded 12 monasteries in the vicinity of Subiaco, and, eventually, founded the great Benedictine monastery of Monte Cassino, which lies on a hilltop between Rome and Naples.
While living at Monte Cassino, St. Benedict wrote The Rule of St. Benedict. Consisting of a prologue and 73 short chapters, The Rule describes how to live a Christian life in a community of Monks (or Sisters) and how a monastery should be organized and led. One of the most important documents of Western Civilization, it became the foundation of the Western monastic movement, which helped to spread Christianity, learning, and civilization throughout Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire.
Nearly all that we know of the life of St. Benedict comes from the biography written by Pope St. Gregory the Great (ca. 540-604). St. Gregory's biography of St. Benedict is very short, and is available today. St. Benedict died at Monte Cassino in 547. He was buried beside his sister, St. Scholastica (ca. 480-543), who also followed the monastic way of life and remained close to Benedict throughout her life.
St. Scholastica is the patron saint of Benedictine Sisters. Her feast day is celebrated on February 10.