Day 4 – Benedict and Montecassino

The Montecassino Monastery was founded by St. Benedict about 529 CE on the remnants of a temple to Apollo.  The monastery became famous for the life of Benedict.  He developed a set of rules, often cited as The Rule of St. Benedict.  These were really guidelines for living in community.   Following these rules gave a structure and balance between work and prayer.  Time for worship was important, with seven offices a day, beginning at 4:40 am.  I learned today that after the early morning office, one could return to bed for more sleep.  It was essential that everyone did some manual labor, living out the premise that work and worship are one.  It was important to study.  Periods of fasting and feasting were part of living in the Benedictine community.  One would give one’s possessions to the community in order to live a simple life.  Extending hospitality was part of a monastery life. Perhaps one of the most important rules is one about authority, an obedience to the community.  In essence, the life as a Benedictine was a balance between worship and work.  Ora and Labor.  

The site of the Montecassino monastery is at the top of a mountain.  It has been destroyed and reconstructed several times, the most recent was after WW2 when the monastery was almost completely destroyed by the Allies.  So what we see today is mostly a 60 year old structure that has incorporated bits and pieces from its previous existence.