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This novena to St. Benedict (c.480-c.547, pictured above) reflects the father of Western monasticism’s goodness and devotion to God. St. Benedict is best known for his Rule for monks (and nuns as well) living in monastic communities devoted to lives of prayer, solitude and contemplation.
Glorious St. Benedict, sublime model of virtue, pure vessel of God’s grace! Behold me humbly kneeling at your feet. I implore you in your loving kindness to pray for me before the throne Of God. To you I have recourse in the dangers that daily surround me. Shield me against my selfishness and my indifference to God and to my neighbor. Inspire me to imitate you in all things. May your blessing be with me always, so that I may see and serve Christ in others and work for His kingdom.
Graciously obtain for me from God those favors and graces which I need so much in the trials, miseries and afflictions of life. Your heart was always full of love, compassion and mercy toward those who were afflicted or troubled in any way. You never dismissed without consolation and assistance anyone who had recourse to you. I therefore invoke your powerful intercession, confident in the hope that you will hear my prayer and obtain for me the special grace and favor I earnestly implore (name it).
Help me, great St. Benedict. to live and die as a faithful child of God, to run in the sweetness of His loving will and to attain the eternal happiness of heaven. Amen.
Born in Nursia, Italy and educated in Rome, Benedict left that city around the age of 20 for a more sanctified life. He wound up living for three years in a cave in Subiaco, a town southeast of Rome.
The second paragraph of this novena to St. Benedict mentions some of his qualities, such as his great compassion for the afflicted. These saintly attributes, along with the miracles he performed, brought him many followers in Subiaco. He established 12 monastic communities there before leaving to found a monastery in Monte Cassino, where he wrote his Rule and lived for the rest of his life.
The Rule of St. Benedict has been used by monasteries all throughout the West for centuries. It champions listening to God’s word and doing His work through a life of prayer, temperance, charity, obedience, patience and humility. The Rule was considered rigorous, yet not unbendingly so, when Benedict first introduced it in his writings.
In addition to praying a novena to St. Benedict, many people wear a St. Benedict medal for spiritual protection. The wearing and use of the medal has been called “a silent prayer to God to grant us, through the merits of St. Benedict, the favors we request.” St. Gregory the Great, who chronicled some of Benedict’s miracles a few years after his death, called him “a shining light to the world.”
It is a fitting tribute to this saint that he himself did not found, but rather inspired the religious order (the Order of Saint Benedict, also known as the Benedictines) that bears his name and follows his Rule today.
Cardinal Ratzinger was thinking of him in part when he was elected Pope in 2005 and chose the name Benedict XVI! As the Pope has said, may St. Benedict encourage us all (as he sought to do with his Rule and his life) to put Christ first in our thoughts and in our actions!