BENEDICT, Saint, the founder of the first religious order in the west: b. Norcia, Italy, 480; d. 21 March 543. While yet a youth he retired to a cavern situated in the desert of Subiaco, 40 miles from Rome, and for three years dwelt in a cavern (afterward called the Holy Grotto). He afterward founded 12 monasteries. In 515 he drew up a rule for his monks, which was first introduced into the monastery on Monte Cassino, in the neighbor hood of Naples, founded by him (529) in a grove of Apollo after the. temple had been de molished. This gradually became the rule of all the western monks. The abbots of Monte Cassino afterward acquired episcopal juris diction and a certain patriarchal authority over the whole order. Benedict, with the intention of banishing idleness, prescribed, in addition to the work of God (as he called prayer and the reading of religious writings), the instruction of youth in reading, writing and ciphering, in the doctrines of Christianity, in manual labors (including mechanic arts of every lcind), and in the management of the monastery. With
regard to dress and food, the rule was severe but not extravagant. Benedict caused a library to be founded, for which the aged and infirm brethren (ordo scriptorius) were obliged to copy manuscripts. By this means he contri buted to preserve the literary remains of an tiquity from ruins; for though he had in view only thc copying of religious writings, yet the practice was afterward extended to classical works of every kind; and the world is in debted for the preservation of great literary treasures to the order of Saint Benedict.
Doyle, F. C., 'Teachings of Saint Benedict' (London 1887) ; Henderson, G. F., 'Historical Documents of the Middle Ages) (pp. 274-314, ib. 1892); Lechner, (Life and Times of Saint Benedict' (ib. 1900) ; Speit zenhofer, S., 'Die historische Voraussetzungen der Regel des heiligen Benedict von Nursia) (Vienna 1895); WOlfilin, 'B. von Nursia und seine Monchsregel' (Leipzig 1895). See