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.

Monday, May 6, 2013

May 6 -- Feast of Saint Petronax of Monte Cassino

We're attacking that?  Without B-52s?  Why?
Although this is Saint Petronax's feast and I do not want to take any credit away from him, I am forced to acknowledge the achievements of others here. 

First, hand it to the Lombards, those beer-swilling heathens who overran Italy (or at least much of it). They could have conquered everything they needed without tackling the monastery at Monte Cassino.  It sits on a mountaintop 1700 feet up -- that couldn't have been much fun to attack.  I'm sure the monks didn't put up much resistance, and there were probably some lovely silver candlesticks, but sacking the place hardly seems worth the effort.  Nonetheless, they took it, emptied it, and left it in ruins. 

Second, hand it to Pope Gregory II, clever man that he was.  He didn't tell Petronax of Brescia to restart the monastery at Monte Cassino.  That would have seemed like a Herculean assignment, more of a punishment than a commission.  Instead, he simply charged him with a pilgrimage to Saint Benedict's tomb in Monte Cassino.  Once Petronax had hiked the 81 miles from Rome and 1700 feet up the mountain, he picked his way through the rubble and ruin of the motherhouse of all western monasteries, his real assignment was clear to him.  But instead of the Pope telling Petronax what he had to do, he went back and told the Pope.  Put that in your MBA curriculum and teach it.

Okay, now it is time to hand it to Petronax, the second founder of Monte Cassino.  He started out with a strong brand name and the weather-beaten, vermin-infested shell of a monastery on top of a mountain.  By the time he was done, there was a thriving community of monks.  In fact, the place was so well-regarded that Pope Zachary gave Petronax a copy of the Rule written out by Saint Benedict himself. 

Of course, within two centuries the Saracens had invaded Italy and burned everything that Petronax had rebuilt, but that's just a lesson in impermanence, Buddhist detachment, vanity of vanities, yada yada (dada dada).  Like a mandala, the achievement is not diminished by its destruction. 

1 comment:

  1. Great to have a fresh blog! Remember that your blog of a year ago or more may still be news to someone. Please rerun it. Somewhere in the world someone is hearing the Pange Lingua or Schubert's Ave Maria for the first time. And we may not know how to find them.