Friday, May 18, 2012


ST. SCHOLASTICA was the twin sister of St. Benedict of Nursia. They were born to the Italian noblility. Their mother died in childbirth. St. Scholastica became a nun leading a community of women near Montecassino. She died in 543. 

She was accustomed to visiting her brother once a year. He would come down to meet her at a place on the monastery property, not far outside the gate. One day she came as usual and her saintly brother went with some of his disciples. They spent the whole day praising God and talking of sacred things. Their spiritual conversation went on and the hour grew late. The holy nun said to her brother, “Please do not leave me tonight; let us go on until morning talking about the delights of the spiritual life.” “Sister,” he replied, “What are you saying? I simply cannot stay outside my cell.” When she heard her brother refuse her request, the holy woman joined her hands on the table, laid her head on them and began to pray.  As she raised her head from the table, there such a heavy downpour of rain that neither Benedict nor his brethren could stir across the threshold of the place where they had been seated. Sadly, he began to complain. “May God forgive you, Sister. What have you done?”

 “Well, she answered, “I asked you and you would not listen; so I asked my God and he did listen. So now go off, if you can, leave me and return to your monastery.” So it came about that they stayed awake the whole night, engrossed in their conversation about the spiritual life.

 Three days later, Benedict was in his cell. Looking up to the sky, he saw his Sister’s soul leave her body in the form of a dove, and fly up to the secret places of heaven. Rejoicing in her great glory, he thanked almighty God with hymns and words of praise. He then sent his brethren to bring her body to the monastery and lay it in the tomb he had prepared for himself. - from Dialogues by Pope Saint Gregory the Great

ST. HILEGARD of BINGEN (d.1179 at the age of 81) was officially declared a saint in May of this year by Pope Benedict XVI who has a great devotion to her, recognizing her widespread fame of holiness.

The process was established in the 18th century by Pope Benedict XIV. It takes place "when the Pope enjoins the Church as a whole to observe the veneration of a Servant of God not yet canonized by the insertion of her feast into the liturgical calendar of the universal Church, with Mass and the Divine Office.

An "equivalent canonization" usually occurs, as in the case of St. Hildegard, Sts. Bruno, Margaret of Scotland, Stephen of Hungary, and Wenceslaus, when veneration of the saint is already well established in Church traditions, but for various reasons the formal process of canonization has not been completed.
At a time when few women wrote, St.Hildegard produced major works of theology and visionary writings. When few women were respected, she was consulted by and advised bishops, popes, and kings. She used her curative powers of natural objects for healing, and wrote treatises about natural history and the medicinal uses of plants, animals, trees and stones. She is the first musical composer whose biography is known. She founded a vibrant monastery, where her musical plays were performed.

When I received her name at clothing, over 40 years ago, there was only one book written about her
(a novel) and none of her works had yet been translated. The first translation of her SCIVIAS (Visions) was done by our Mother Columba Hart.  At the same time the nuns at the Abbey of St.Hildegard in Germany were doing translations of her works (from the original Latin) into German.  Today all of her works have been translated, into many languages.

 In a 2010 series of audience talks about women’s contributions to the Church, Pope Benedict dedicated two talks to St Hildegard. He said she was a worthy role model for Catholics today because of “her love for Christ and his Church, which was suffering in her time, too, and was wounded also then by the sins of priests and lay people”. In addition, the Pope noted, modern Catholics can learn from her “love for creation, her medicine, her poetry and music that is being recreated today”.

Virginia Marie Romero

In her book PHYSICA she lists many birds and gives characteristics of each - not the kind you would find in a modern book on birds. Heron, swan, vulture, eagle, goose, duck, hawk, raven and crow, dove, parrot, owl, woodpecker, kingfisher, starling, swallow, finch, wren, kinglet, and blackbird are some of the birds mentioned. An example of her shrewd observation of the nature of a bird is the crow.

"They are not useful for medicine because a bird that is with a person by means of its cleverness is not much use to anyone as a remedy".  She also describes how the raven (a member of the same family as the crow)  can recognize faces of humans. Interesting to note  that my Island 4-H birding club is doing a study of crows this year. Much of the research done on this family is at the University of Washington in Seattle, esp. regards to human face recognition by these most intelligent of birds.

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