The Twin Who Ran Away - The story of St. Benedict

By Sister Marie Louise Krenner, OSB

 

Once upon a time there was a little boy. His name was Benedict.

Benedict had a mother, a father, and a sister. His sister's name was Scholastica.

Scholastica looked just like Benedict. Benedict looked just like Scholastica. They were twins.

They had a good friend who lived with them. She was called Cyrilla. Cyrilla took care of them all the time.

Benedict and Scholastica were happy children. They were happy because they loved God. They were happy because they were good to their mother and father. They were good to Cyrilla, too.

One day something sad happened. Benedict had to go away.

In those days there were no schools like ours.

Little girls stayed at home. Their mothers showed them how to sing and play pretty music. Their mothers showed them how to take care of the house. They showed them how to be good, too.

But little boys went away to school. They learned to read and write. They learned to do many things.

Now Benedict was big enough to go to school. He said goodbye to his father and mother. parting

"God be with you," they said. They wanted God to be with Benedict all the time. They wanted God to be in Benedict's heart.

Just then Scholastica came out of the house. Scholastica had a box in one hand and a doll in the other.

"Wait for me," she called. "Wait for me." Scholastica's mother and father looked at her. Cyrilla looked at her. Benedict looked at her. "I'm all ready now," she smiled.

"Oh, oh, oh," said Benedict. "Scholastica, you cannot go," said her father. Scholastica started to cry.

"What would we do without our little girl?" asked her mother.

So Benedict went to school. Cyrilla went, too. Cyrilla was going to take care of Benedict. She would sew and cook and keep his clothes clean. After a long, long time they reached Rome. There Benedict went to school.

The boys learned many new things at school. But most of them forgot something,too. Most of them forgot to love God. They forgot to be good. They just wanted to eat and drink and have a good time.

Benedict did not forget to love God. He did not like what the other boys did.

One day Benedict felt sad. "I do love God. But I cannot love Him very much here. It is too hard to be good. I do not have much time to talk to God," he thought. Then Benedict jumped up and said, "I know. I will be a hermit and live in a cave. Then I can talk to God all the time."

So Benedict went to Cyrilla. She was making some new clothes for him. He would not fit in the old ones. Benedict said, "I want to go away to be a hermit. I am big now. I want to live just for God."

"You are getting big," said Cyrilla. "But who will cook your dinner?"

"Hermits do not eat much," said Benedict. Cyrilla's eyes got very big. "And hermits do not sleep much," said Benedict. Cyrilla's eyes got bigger and bigger. "And hermits do not talk much to people," said Benedict. "They just talk to God. And God talks to them."

"All right," said Cyrilla. "You may go but I am going with you. I will see that you eat enough and sleep enough. And I will talk to you, too."

So Benedict and Cyrilla walked and walked. They looked and looked for a cave. Benedict was tired but happy. Cyrilla was tired, but she was not happy. She did not want to live in a cave all by herself.

Benedict and Cyrilla walked and walked some more. They could not find a cave. At last they came to a little town. It was dark so they stayed all night. They stayed the next day, too. Cyrilla liked the little town. They stayed a long, long time. Besides, Cyrilla had to make Benedict some new clothes again. He would not fit in the old ones.

One day Benedict came into the house. Cyrilla was crying. Benedict put his arms around her. "What is the matter?" he asked.

"Look there!" she cried. Benedict looked. He saw a broken sieve. A sieve is a dish with holes in it to strain things through.broken

"I just borrowed it and it fell on the floor. How can I give it back now?" Cyrilla cried and cried.

Benedict took the sieve and went into another room. He prayed and prayed. Soon Benedict came back. Cyrilla was crying so hard she did not see him.

"Surprise," said Benedict. "See what God has done for you." Cyrilla looked. She was surprised. For there was the sieve. Just like new! Not even one crack! "Oh, oh," cried Cyrilla. She took the dish and ran out of the house.

Cyrilla told everyone about the broken sieve. She told everyone how Benedict had prayed. Everyone looked at the sieve. No one could find any cracks.

"A miracle! A miracle!' the people said, "Benedict worked a miracle. Benedict is a saint."

Now Benedict did not like that at all. "God made the sieve just like new," he said. "I am not a saint. I am just trying to be a saint."

All day long people came to see Benedict. They wanted to look at him. They wanted to talk to him. Some people just wanted to touch him.

Benedict was very polite. He talked to the people all day. He let them look at him. He let them touch him.

Cyrilla was very happy. She liked to have lots of people at her house. But Benedict was not happy. He did not have any time to talk to God.

That night Benedict went away. Benedict walked and walked. He could not find any cave.

By and by he met a monk. A monk is a man who loves God very much but he lives with other monks and they all help each other to love God more.

The monks pick out the best monk to be like their father. They do everything he tells them to do. The monks know that to obey the head monk is to obey God.

"God be with you," said the monk. "What is your name and where are you going?" "God be with you," said Benedict. He was very polite. "My name is Benedict. I am looking for a cave so I can live just for God."

"Why, I know just the cave for you," said the monk. "It is high up in the mountains and no one else knows anything about it." The monk showed Benedict the cave. It was just right.

Every day Benedict prayed. He prayed for bad people. He prayed for good people. Sometimes Benedict worked. He did hard things for God. He did not eat much. He did not sleep much. He did not talk to anyone but God. Benedict was very happy.

One day Benedict was praying. Someone came into the cave. It was the devil. The devil said, "You are doing too much for God. Think of yourself sometime. You should eat and sleep more."

"Go away," said Benedict. He made the sign of the cross. The devil ran. Benedict kept on praying but pretty soon the devil came back. He whispered in Benedict's ear. "In Rome you could stay awake all night too. You could go to parties at night and stay in bed all day." The devil laughed.

A good angel whispered something in Benedict's other ear. Benedict did not say anything. The devil tried again. "Come back to Rome with me. You had many friends there. I would be your friend, too. It hurts me to see you by yourself all the time." devil

Benedict stood up. He walked out. The devil jumped up and down. "I will hurt you more," thought Benedict, and he jumped into some thorn bushes. It hurt Benedict a lot to be all cut up, but it hurt the devil more. He ran away and never came back, and in a few days Benedict was just as good as new.

For a long time Benedict lived by himself. Then one day some men happened to find him. They were surprised. "Why do you live here?" they asked. "Why do you live all by yourself?" Benedict was very polite. He told them all they wanted to know. He told them all about God. The men liked to hear about God. They came to Benedict every day.

Then one day they said, "We want to live just for God too. Show us how. Tell us what to do."

So Benedict prayed and asked God what he wanted them to do. Then Benedict called the men together. "We will be monks," he said. "We shall help each other to love God more. Sometimes we shall pray. Sometimes we shall work. I shall be like a father to you. We shall be a happy family."

Sometimes the monks prayed.  Their prayers were songs to God. Their prayes were songs that were inspired by God. That is why God likes them so much.

The monks sang to God in the day time. The first thing they did in the morning and the last thing they did at night was to sing to God. They got up in the night-time to sing to God, too.

Even today, right now, there are monks who do what Benedict said to do. Even today, right now, there are monks who are singing to God.

Sometimes the monks worked. The monks showed boys how to read and write. But they did not let the boys forget about God. They helped the boys to love God more.

There were not many books in those days. Just a few great big books. The monks made more. It took a long, long time to write even one book. The monks did it because they loved God. They wanted to help the people. Most of the people did not know very much. The books that the monks wrote were the only ones the people had. The books that the monks wrote helped people to get to heaven. They helped them to know about other things, too.

Benedict and the monks worked outside too. The monks built their own houses to live in. Monks live in great big houses. Their houses are called monasteries. A monastery is just like a little town. choirprayers

The monks made their own clothes and the tools they worked with. The monks grew their own food. In those days many people had no homes. They were always moving around. They had to move to find enough food. The people were so happy with their farms. They thanked God for giving them the monks.

Even today, right now, Benedict's monks do whatever kind of work that needs to be done. Even today, Benedict's monks can do almost anything because God helps them.

Near Benedict's monastery there lived a bad man. This man did not love God at all. He just loved himself. He did not love Benedict. He said, "I will put poison in some bread. Then I will take the bread to Benedict. He will eat it and die." The bad man laughed. The devil laughed too.

So he took the poisoned bread to Benedict. "God bless you," said Benedict. He was very polite. Then the bad man went home. Benedict knew the bread was poisoned. Benedict felt very sad to think that any one would sin and hurt God.

Just then a raven came in the window. It was Benedict's pet. Every day the raven came for food. But now Benedict said, "Hide this bread." The raven did not want to touch the bread. He was afraid of it. Again Benedict said, "Hide this bread where no one will find it." The raven said, "Caw, caw." He picked up the poisoned bread very carefully. Then he went away.

After a long, long time the raven came back and then Benedict gave it something to eat. Benedict did not die. The bad man began to hurt the monks.

Benedict called the monks together. He said, "You know what that man has been doing. I am going away. Then he will not hurt you and there will be peace."

The monks were very sad. "Some of you will go with me," he said. "We shall build a new monastery far away."

So Benedict and some of the monks went away. They had not gone far when another monk came running up. "Father! Father Benedict! Come back! The bad man's house fell on him. He is dead."

But Benedict did not look happy. Benedict knelt down and said some prayers for the man. The other monks prayed too. Then Benedict said, "I am not coming back. God still wants us to make a new monastery." Benedict and his monks went on and on. They stopped on the top of a big mountain. There they built a new monastery. The monastery was called Monte Cassino.

Benedict was very kind to his monks. Benedict knew God wanted the monks to eat just enough. Then the monks could do lots of work for God. Benedict knew God wanted the monks to sleep just enough. Then the monks could pray and love God a lot. Soon many, many monks came to live with Benedict. He had to send some monks out to make new monasteries.

Benedict wrote a little book for these monks. It is called the Holy Rule. The Holy Rule helps the monk remember to love God and to love everyone else just for God.

Sometimes Benedict went to see his sister Scholastica. She too, lived just for God. She lived on the top of a big mountain just as Benedict did. Scholastica was a sister and she lived with lots of other sisters. Scholastica was just like a mother to them. Benedict told Scholastica everything he knew. Benedict told her everything he knew about God.

Benedict worked hard. He did many things for God. God did many, many things for Benedict.

Benedict became old. He had done everything God wanted him to do. He knew his work was just about finished. He knew that he was going to go to heaven soon.

Benedict became sick. He called all the monks together. He said, "I am going to heaven now. Take me to church."

All the monks were very sad. They helped Benedict go to church. Benedict could not walk very well. He was so old. He was so sick. Benedict was happy to be in the church. He loved God very much. He put his arms out to God. Benedict prayed.

A light came down from heaven. It looked just like a beautiful carpet. God loved Benedict so much. God put His arms out to Benedict. And the soul of Benedict went up the beautiful carpet right into the arms of God.

Now Benedict is a saint. Benedict is happy with God in heaven. And Benedict will be happy with God forever.