Saint Benedict and the blackbird

Saint Benedict and the wine glass

Saint Benedict chose to live as the Desert Fathers lived before him, and as they had not been exempt from the attacks of the flesh and the devil, neither would he be.

One such temptation, as described by St. Gregory was:

"On a certain day when he was alone, the tempter presented himself.

For a small bird, commonly called a blackbird, began to fly around his face, and came so near to him that, if he wished, he could have seized it with his hand.

But on his making the Sign of the Cross, the bird flew away.

 Then such a violent temptation of the flesh followed as Saint Benedict had never before experienced.

The evil spirit brought before his imagination a certain woman he had formerly known, and inflamed his heart with such vehement desire at the memory of her that he had great difficulty in repressing it; and being almost overcome, he thought of leaving his solitude. Suddenly, by Divine Grace, he found the strength he needed, and seeing close by a thick growth of briars and nettles, he stripped off his garment and cast himself into the midst of them. There he rolled until his whole body was lacerated. Thus, through those bodily wounds he cured the wounds of his soul, and was never again troubled in the same way."

The Miracle of the wine glass

Nestled in the cliffs of Vicovaro overlooking Anio, between Tivoli and Subiaco, dwelled a community of monks who had recently lost their Abbot.

Hearing of Saint Benedict and his fine work, teaching all who came to him, they decided to ask him if he would agree to become their Abbot. As probably their reputation preceded them, he tried to gently refuse, explaining that as his spirituality and theirs differed greatly, his life style could prove too stringent for them.

They insisted they could be obedient, and so, touched by their pleading, he followed them to their habitat to begin his new life as their Abbot.

But it soon became evident that his strict code of discipline was too much for them, and rather than share that with him, they resorted to poisoning his wine.

Now his custom was to make the Sign of the Cross over the jug, before pouring the wine. As he did so, the jug broke, shattering into many pieces.

Realizing what had come to pass, Saint Benedict turned to them without anger or vindictiveness, and said the prayer, which is inscribed, till this day, on the Cross of Benedict:

"Begone Satan! and suggest not to me thy vain things; the cup thou profferest me is evil; Drink thou thy poison."

And then:

"God forgive you, brothers. Why have you plotted this wicked thing against me? Did I not tell you my customs would not be in accord with yours? Go and find an Abbot to your taste, for after this deed you can no longer keep me among you."

Having said this, Saint Benedict left to return to Subiaco - only not to the solitary life he had been living but to begin the walk God had been preparing for him those three years alone on the mountain.


The life of Saint Benedict

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