During the general time period of St. Scholastica’s birth in 480, Italy was in turmoil with the Ostrogoths and other Germanic tribes invading much of the land. Although these tribes used the already existing well-organized Roman political and bureaucratic system, they had much political power.
Scholastica, born into a wealthy family in Norcia in central Italy, grew up, however, in relative peace and luxury with her beloved brother, Benedict, who was possibly her twin. As a child and later as a nun, Scholastica was deeply committed to God, becoming the leader of the first Benedictine convent, under St. Benedict’s authority and following his Rule. It is interesting to note that in that era, nuns like St. Brigid in Ireland and St. Hilda in England experienced a greater degree of independence until the Church in Rome became more powerful in Northern Europe.
Nevertheless, the obedient Scholastica proved her spunkiness and her closeness to God in what turned out to be her last meeting with Benedict. Because women were not allowed in the monastery of Monte Cassino where Benedict was the abbot, the brother and sister visited each other in a nearby farmhouse – once a year. Sensing she was nearing the end of her life, Scholastica asked Benedict to extend the visit into the night hours to continue their talk about God and heaven. Benedict refused, putting the Rule ahead of his natural affection for her. At that juncture, Saint Scholastica prayed for God’s intervention. The apparent answer was a severe thunderstorm of such incredible fury, it forced Benedict to stay the night. Three days later, St. Benedict saw Scholastica’s soul in the form of a dove, fly to heaven!
Putting God first as she had promised when taking her vows as a religious, Saint Scholastica exemplified the teaching of Jesus that those who leave houses, or brothers, sisters, father, mother, children or fields, for his name’s sake, receive life a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. (Mt 19:29). Like all who follow Jesus, she proved the truth of His words.