St. Benedict, sometimes referred to as Bennet, lived in the seventh century. He descended from a noble family and was an officer of the court of Oswi, the religious king of the Northumbers. When he was twenty-one he decided to go on a pilgrimage to Rome. He returned filled with a zeal and hunger for learning Holy Scripture and to living his faith.
Soon after his return to England, Prince Alefrid, son of King Oswi, also wanted to make a pilgrimage to some shrines of the Apostles and asked Bennet to accompany him. However, the king would not allow his son to make the journey, so Bennet made a second trip to Rome. He was so filled with the Holy Spirit and the desire to grow in holiness that he yearned to learn as much as he could about divine things. So he went to the great monastery of Lerins which was famous for its discipline and there took the monastic habit, spending two years in observance of the rule.
When he returned to Rome again, he received an order from Pope Vitalian to accompany St. Theodorus, Archbishop of Canterbury, and St. Adrian to England. Upon his arrival at Canterbury, St. Theodorus put Bennet in charge of the monastery of Sts. Peter and Paul. He stayed two years in Kent, studying Scripture and living the monastic life. When he returned to Northumberland, King Egfrid gave him 70 ploughs of land for building a monastery.
After the monastery was built, Bennet went to France and brought back skillful masons to build a stone church for the monastery. Stone buildings at that time were rare in Britain and most churches were made of wood. He also brought over glaziers from France, for the art of making glass was also unknown in Britain at that time. In yet a fifth trip to Rome, Bennet gathered a great stock of books, especially the writings of the Fathers, along with relics and holy pictures. Bennet continued to enrich the church with holy relics, pictures and books and on his last voyage to Rome he brought John, abbot of St. Martin’s and preceptor in St. Peter’s Church, and placed him in the monastery to instruct the monks in the Gregorian notes and Roman ceremonies for singing the divine office.
Two months before his death, St. Benedict appointed St. Ceolfrid abbot of his monastery. St. Benedict died on January 12, 690.
St. Benedict’s relics were transferred to Thorney Abbey in 970. The true name of Benedict or Bennet was Biscop Baducing, as it appears from Eddius-Stephen in his Life of St. Wilfrid. The English Benedictines honor him as one of the patrons of their congregation.
St. Bennet, we thank you for both the material beauty and internal holiness that you bestowed on the church you built. It was certainly a model for future churches that show both the external beauty and interior holiness that are an inspiration to all and bring glory to God. Amen.
Other Saint We Remember Today
St. Marguerite Bourgeoys (1700), Virgin, Foundress
St. Arcadius (304), Martyr