Ven. Benedict of Nursia (543). St. Theognostus, Metropolitan of Kiev and All Russia (1353). Rt. Blv. Great Prince Rostilav (Michael), Prince of Kiev and Smolensk (1167). St. Euschemon the Confessor, Bishop of Lampsacus (9th c.). The “FEODOROVSKAYA” Icon of the Most-holy Theotokos.
Saint Benedict, founder of Western monasticism, was born in the Italian city of Nursia in the year 480. When he was fourteen years of age, the saint’s parents sent him to Rome to study. Unsettled by the immorality around him, he decided to devote himself to a different sort of life.
At first Saint Benedict settled near the church of the holy Apostle Peter in the village of Effedum, but news of his ascetic life compelled him to go farther into the mountains. There he encountered the hermit Romanus, who tonsured him into monasticism and directed him to live in a remote cave at Subiaco. From time to time, the hermit would bring him food.
For three years the saint waged a harsh struggle with temptations and conquered them. People soon began to gather to him, thirsting to live under his guidance. The number of disciples grew so much, that the saint divided them into twelve communities. Each community was comprised of twelve monks and was a separate skete. The saint gave each skete an igumen from among his experienced disciples, and only the novice monks remained with Saint Benedict for instruction.
The strict monastic Rule Saint Benedict established for the monks was not accepted by everyone, and more than once he was criticized and abused by dissenters.
Finally he settled in Campagna and on Mount Cassino he founded the Monte Cassino monastery, which for a long time was a center of theological education for the Western Church. The monastery possessed a remarkable library. Saint Benedict wrote his Rule, based on the experience of life of the Eastern desert-dwellers and the precepts of Saint John Cassian the Roman (February 29).
The Rule of Saint Benedict dominated Western monasticism for centuries (by the year 1595 it had appeared in more than 100 editions). The Rule prescribed the renunciation of personal possessions, as well as unconditional obedience, and constant work. It was considered the duty of older monks to teach the younger and to copy ancient manuscripts. This helped to preserve many memorable writings from the first centuries of Christianity.
Every new monk was required to live as a novice for a year, to learn the monastic Rule and to become acclimated to monastic life. Every deed required a blessing. The head of this cenobitic monastery is the igumen. He discerns, teaches, and explains. The igumen solicits the advice of the older, experienced brethren, but he makes the final decisions. Keeping the monastic Rule was strictly binding for everyone and was regarded as an important step on the way to perfection.
Saint Benedict was granted by the Lord the gift of foresight and wonderworking. He healed many by his prayers. The monk foretold the day of his death in 547. The main source for his Life is the second Dialogue of Saint Gregory.
Saint Benedict’s sister, Saint Scholastica (February 10), also became famous for her strict ascetic life and was numbered among the saints.
Troparion of the saint, tone 1
By your ascetic labors, God-bearing Benedict, / you were proven to be true to your name. / For you were the son of benediction, / and became a rule and model for all who emulate your life and cry: / “Glory to Him who gave you strength! / Glory to Him who granted you a crown! / Glory to Him who through you grants healing to all!”
Kontakion of the saint, tone 6
You were enriched with God’s grace; / your works agreed with your name, O Benedict, helpful servant of Christ God. / Through prayer and fasting you were revealed to be filled with the gifts of the Spirit of God! / You are a healer of the sick, the banisher of demons and speedy defender of our souls!
Isaiah 2:11-21 (6th Hour)
- The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.
- For the day of the Lord of hosts shall come upon everything proud and lofty, upon everything lifted up – and it shall be brought low –
- upon all the cedars of Lebanon that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan;
- upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up;
- upon every high tower, and upon every fortified wall;
- upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all the beautiful sloops.
- The loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be brought low; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day,
- but the idols He shall utterly abolish.
- They shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, from the terror of the Lord and the glory of His majesty, when He arises to shake the earth mightily.
- In that day a man will cast away his idols of silver and his idols of gold, which they made, each for himself to worship, to the moles and bats,
- to go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the crags of the rugged rocks, from the terror of the Lord and the glory of His majesty, when He arises to shake the earth mightily.
Genesis 2:4-19 (Vespers, 1st reading)
- This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,
- before any plant of the field was in the earth and before any herb of the field had grown. For the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the ground;
- but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground.
- And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
- The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed.
- And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
- Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads.
- The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one which skirts the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold.
- And the gold of that land is good. Bdellium and the onyx stone are there.
- The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one which goes around the whole land of Cush.
- The name of the third river is Hiddekel; it is the one which goes toward the east of Assyria. The fourth river is the Euphrates.
- Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.
- And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat;
- “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
- And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”
- Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name.
Proverbs 3:1-18 (Vespers, 2nd reading)
- My son, do not forget my law, but let your heart keep my commands;
- for length of days and long life and peace they will add to you.
- Let not mercy and truth forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart,
- and so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man.
- Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;
- in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.
- Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil.
- It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones.
- Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase;
- so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.
- My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction;
- for whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.
- Happy is the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding;
- for her proceeds are better than the profits of silver, and her gain than fine gold.
- She is more precious than rubies, and all the things you may desire cannot compare with her.
- Length of days is in her right hand, in her left hand riches and honor.
- Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.
- She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who retain her.