St. Benedict of Nursia is heralded as the founder of all Western monasticism. He was born in 480 C.E. in Nursia,
Italy. At a young age, he was sent to Rome to study and was appalled by the general corruption of his society. Benedict
retreated to an underground cave in the hills of Subiaco and lived there as a hermit for three years, while he was going
through a personal conversion of mind and heart to God himself.
In a short time, his reputation as a holy person spread. Followers came to him pleading that he become their leader
because he had a morally appealing philosophy of life.
St. Benedict and his followers formed a religious order of monks dedicated to conversion. Soon there were more
than twelve cloisters that were planted among the valley. St. Benedict then settled in Monte Cassino, where he
transformed the ruined Roman temples of Jupiter and Apollo into the greatest monastery in Christendom. Two oratories
were erected in the place of the ruined temple; one to St. John the Baptist and the other to St. Martin. His last days
were associated with the love and devotion to his twin sister Scholastica, who had also given herself to the religious life
and had established a nunnery near Monte Cassino. St. Benedict died at Monte Cassino in 547.