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March 21.

St. Benedict, or Bennet, Abbot, A.D. 543. St. Serapion, called the Sindonite, A.D. 388. St. Serapion, Abbot. St. Serapion, Bishop, 4th Age. St. Enna, or Endeus, Abbot, 6th Cent[.]


Founder of the order of St. Benedict.

The accounts of distinguished persons of the Romish church written by its ecclesiastics are exceedingly curious. The rev. Alban Butler states of St. Benedict, that he was born in Umbria about 480, sent to school at Rome, and afterwards being determined to leave the world, "therefore left the city privately, and made the best of his way to the deserts." Here he remained secreted at a place called Sublacum, till a "certain pious priest," whilst preparing a dinner on Easter-day, heard a voice say to him, "you are preparing for yourself a banquet whilst my servant Benedict at Sublacum is distressed with hunger." The the priest found out Benedict, and invited him to eat, "saying it was Easter-day, on which it was not reasonable to fast." Bennet [sic] answered, he did not know it; and Alban Butler says, "nor is it to be wondered at that he should not understand the Lunar cycle, which at that time was known by very few." Soon after, some shepherds found him near his cave, and "took him for a wild beast; for he was clad with the skins of beasts, and they imagined no human creature could live among those rocks." From that time he began to be known and visited, and the devil came to him "in the shape of a little blackbird." After this, Benedict rolled himself in briars and nettles, till he was covered with blood; and his fame spreading still more abroad, several forsook the world to live with him; and he became an abbot, and built twelve monasteries. In one of these, a monk becoming slothful, St. Benedict said, "I will go and correct him myself;" and Butler says, "such indeed was the danger and enormity of this fault, as to require the most speedy and effectual remedy;" wherefore St. Benedict coming to the lazy monk "at the end of the divine office, saw a little black boy leading him by the sleeve out of the church," and applied the "speedy and effectual remedy" to the monk's shoulders, in the shape of a cudgel; and so "the sinner was freed from the temptation" of the little black boy, who was the devil. Then by Benedict's prayers a fountain sprung up; and a monk cleaving wood with a hedging bill, and the iron falling into the water, by holding the wooden handle in the water, the iron miraculously swam up to it of its own accord. Such growing fame brought to Benedict "many who came clad in purple with gold and precious stones." "He seemed," says Alban Butler, "indued with an extraordinary power, commanding all nature, and foreseeing future events; he baffled the various artifices of the devil, with the sign of the cross; rendered the heaviest stone light; by a short prayer raised to life a novice who had been crushed by the fall of a wall;" and after other wonders died, about the year 543, aged 63.* [1]

Pope St. Gregory, of whom some account is given on his festival, (see MARCH 12,) wrote the life and miracles of St. Benedict.† [2] This work of many chapters relates how Benedict dispossessed a certain clerk of the devil; how he miraculously discovered the hiding of a flagon of wine; how in a scarcity two hundred bushels of meal were miraculously brought to his monastery; how a boy marvellously cast out of his grave, was miraculously kept in it by St. Benedict putting the host on his body; how a glass bottle cast down on the stones was not broken; how an empty tun was filled with oil by his prayers; how he gave another monk a slap in the face and drove the devil out of him; how he saw the soul of his sister in form of a dove; how he foretold his own death; how he performed miracles too many to be here related; all which, however, may be seen in the said life of St. Benedict, by the said pope St. Gregory, who it will be remembered is called by way of distinction St. Gregory the Great.

St. Benedict founded the order of monks under his name. A reader who desires to be acquainted with its rules may consult Mr. Fosbroke's "British Monachism," who remarks, that monkery is an institution founded upon the first principles of religious virtue, wrongly understood and wrongly directed. He then proceeds to remark, that, "If man be endowed with various qualities, in order to be severely punished for using them, God is made the tempter of vice, and his works foolish. If voluntary confinement, vegetable eating, perpetual praying, wearing coarse clothing, and mere automatical action through respiration, be the standard of excellence, then the best man is only a barrel organ set to psalm-tunes."


1556. Thomas Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury, was burnt for heresy at Oxford, between Baliol college and St. Mary's church.

A correspondent, LECTOR, communicates that there is against the south wall of Camberwell church, an inscription commemorative of "Bartholomew Scott, esq. justice of peace in the county of Surrey," in which he is said to have married "Margaret, the widow of the right reverend prelate and martyr, Thomas Cranmer, archbishop of Canterburie." Strype, (Life, p. 418. b. iii. ch. xxviii.) says, that the name of Cranmer's last wife was Ann; and that she survived him, was living towards the latter end of archbishop Parker's time, and "for her subsistence enjoyed an abbey in Nottinghamshire." He does not seem very sanguine on this head, but gives the passage on authority of "a very angry book writ against the execution of justice in England by cardinall Alien." Fox, in his "Actes and Monumentes," says, that Cranmer's wife was "a Dutchewoman, kynne to the wyfe of Osiander;" and that Cranmer having "sold hys plate, and payed all his debts, so that no man could ask him a grote," left his wife and children unprovided. The marriage of "Bartholomew Scott, esq." with Cranmer's widow, was certainly an act of noble disinterestedness. He is celebrated for his never-dying virtues, and described as a "valiant, wise, and religious gentleman," of "right worshipful and ancient familie."


Bulbous Fumitory. Fumaria bulbosa.
Dedicated to St. Bennet.


Notes [All notes are Hone's unless otherwise indicated]:

1. Alban Butler, the English biographer of St. Benedict, and the rest of the saints, died in May, 1773, aged 63. [return]

2. Pope St. Gregory's labour is translated under the title of "The Life and Miracles of our Holie Father St. Benedict—Permissu Superiorum. Printed an. [1]628.' 18mo. [return]