Monday, February 10, 2014

St. Scholastica, Weather Witch

Today is her feast day, as well as the anniversary of the St. Scholastica's Day Riot in Oxford. She was the twin sister of Saint Benedict, but made quite the name for herself. Like her brother, most of what we know about her came from the Dialogues of Pope Gregory I (mentioned here).

She was born in Italy (c.480 - 10 February 542), and devoted herself to God in her youth. She founded a monastery for women about five miles from Monte Cassino, where her more famous brother had a community.

The communities were "gender-specific," so when the siblings wanted to meet they chose a neutral location. During one of these visits, she wanted her brother to stay overnight, but he was loath to spend a night away from his monastery. Chapter 33 of the Dialogues tells the tale of what happened next:
At that time, the sky was so clear that no cloud was to be seen. The Nun, hearing this denial of her brother, joined her hands together, laid them on the table, bowed her head on her hands, and prayed to almighty God. 
Lifting her head from the table, there fell suddenly such a tempest of lightning and thundering, and such abundance of rain, that neither venerable Benedict, nor his monks that were with him, could put their heads out of doors. The holy Nun, having rested her head on her hands, poured forth such a flood of tears on the table, that she transformed the clear air to a watery sky. 
After the end of her devotions, that storm of rain followed; her prayer and the rain so met together, that as she lifted up her head from the table, the thunder began.  So it was that in one and the very same instant that she lifted up her head, she brought down the rain.
The man of God, seeing that he could not, in the midst of such thunder and lightning and great abundance of rain return to his Abbey, began to be heavy and to complain to his sister, saying: "God forgive you, what have you done?" She answered him, "I desired you to stay, and you would not hear me; I have desired it of our good Lord, and he has granted my petition. Therefore if you can now depart, in God's name return to your monastery, and leave me here alone." [link]
The next day he departed; three days later she died. Benedict had her body brought to Monte Cassino and laid in his own tomb.

Scholastica is the patron saint of nuns, and is invoked during storms.

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