Saturday, February 07, 2015

Santa Scholastica,

My drawing of the statue of our local saint in the basilica built over her birthplace.

Ora pro nobis

O God, who for a testimony to
the path of innocency didst cause
the soul of Thy Virgin to enter heaven
in the appearance of a dove:
grant unto us, that by her merits and
intercession we may walk in such
innocency of life; that we may be worthy
to attain to everlasting felicity,

Through Our Lord Jesus Christ,
Who liveth and reigneth with Thee
and the Holy Ghost,
One God, forever and ever

This week we are having the celebrations of Santa Scholastica in town, the twin sister of St. Benedict and the first Benedictine nun. Though very little is known of her life, her legend says that she lived here as a religious for a time.

The town of Norcia, in the diocese of Spoleto-Norcia, begins four days of celebrations, a mini-octave, today with a talk by Fr. Cassian Folsom at the Monastero di Sant Antonio. Tomorrow the town is invited to join the nuns at Sant Antonio for Vespers and a lecture, and then a procession with the reliquary of the saint. Mass (Novus Ordo) at 5:30 on Sunday with the archbishop of Spoleto-Norcia, Renato Bccardo is at the Basilica followed by Benediction.

On her feast, which is Tuesday, Fr. Folsom will celebrate Mass in the forma straordinaria.


So ancient is Scholastica's memory, dating from well before the first schism that separated the eastern and western Churches, that she is held in veneration by both.

Her legend, described by St. Gregory the Great (OSB) is that she created a community of women following the rule of her brother the Abbott Benedict, near Monte Cassino. But an earlier local tradition holds that she spent the first period of her religious life right here, in a convent about half a mile outside the town of Norcia.

Now there is a church at the site that, I can see from my living room windows, dedicated to her, which is not in use at the moment. Until the 1960s it had a convent of Benedictine nuns attached. Now, however, the land that was their cloister garth is used as the local cemetery and the nuns who had been buried there were moved into a single, rather splendid, mausoleum.

The various bits of ancient Roman stonework in the medieval church of Santa Scholastica certainly indicate that it was built over the site of an earlier structure, so it seems certain that she lived here, quite likely with a group of religious women, before moving to Monte Cassino.

I light a candle every day at the base of her statue.

1 comment:

Chloe said...

Hilary, I love the drawing! Beautiful.