St. Benedict was born in 480. He was from a rich Italian family. His life was full of adventure and wonderful deeds. As a boy, he was sent to Rome to study in the public schools. When he was a young man, he became disgusted with the corrupt lifestyle of pagan Rome. Benedict left the city and went looking for a place where he could be alone with God. He found the right spot. It was a cave in the mountain of Subiaco. Benedict spent three years there alone. The devil often tempted him to go back to his rich home and easy life. However, Benedict overcame these temptations by prayer and penance. One day, the devil kept making him think of a beautiful lady he had once seen in Rome. The devil tried to make him go back to look for that lady. Benedict almost gave in to the temptation. Then he felt so sorry that he threw himself into a bush of long, sharp thorns. He rolled around in the thorns until he was covered with scratches. From then on, his life was calm. He did not feel powerful temptations like that again.
After three years, people started coming to Benedict. They wanted to learn how to become holy. He became the leader of some men who asked for his help. But when he tried to make them do penance, they grew angry. It is said that the men even tried to poison Benedict. He made the Sign of the Cross over the poisoned wine and the glass shattered to pieces.
Later, Benedict became the leader of many good monks. He started twelve monasteries. Then he went to Montecassino where he built his most well-known monastery. It was here that St. Benedict wrote the wonderful rules for the Benedictine order. He taught his monks to pray and work hard. He taught them especially to be humble always. Benedict and his monks greatly helped the people of their times. They taught them how to read and write, how to farm, and how to work at different trades. St. Benedict was able to do good because he prayed all the time. He died on March 21, 547. In 1966, Pope Paul VI proclaimed him the patron of Europe. In 1980, Pope John Paul II added St. Cyril and St. Methodius as patrons of Europe along with St. Benedict.
"Put Christ before all else."-the Rule of St. Benedict