This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

February 11 -- Feast of the Second Benedict

Witiza, son of Aigulf the Goth, was an eighth century monk with enough sense to apply some basic market wisdom when reforming his own monastery.
Benny the Deuce
Witiza, who took the name Benedict when he entered a Benedictine monastery in AD 773.  He had been a cupbearer in the courts of Pepin and Charlemagne, but after a military campaign, he decided to become a monk.  He lived barefoot for two and a half years, sleeping on the bare ground and consuming only bread and water.  The Benedictine Rule did not demand that he deny himself every comfort, but he felt it was spiritually nourishing to deny the body.

When he matured as a monk, he decided to open a monastery on his own lands.  At first, he imposed a very strict rule modeled on his own experience: bread and water six days a week -- wine or milk on Sundays if any layperson contributed any.  It is probably not surprising that enrollment remained low.  He adopted the comparatively lax Benedictine Rule (which demanded more asceticism than I'd ever want).   This abbey thrived so well that he formed other houses as well; in time, he was such a big wheel that he helped with the Synod of Frankfurt, at which he argued persuasively against the Adoptionist heresy.

Religious leaders have an obligation to hold onto principles -- I wouldn't ever argue that point.  However, some principles are important, and some are vanities, preferences, and habits masquerading as principles.  It was wise of Benedict to ditch the severe austerity that had fulfilled his spiritual desire in favor of plain old austerity that would allow others to fulfill theirs.  In doing so, he increased his own influence significantly. 

1 comment:

  1. Today also commemorates St. Gobnait (lovely name, no? no) of Ireland. She lived in the 5-6th century and is the patron of beekeepers. of course, so is St. Ambrose (Dec. 7) and maybe Saint Modomnoc? (Feb. 13) the church seems to have placedt a couple of bee-keeping saints close together