This icon at St. Benedict Church in Ahwatukee depicts the parish’s patron saint holding his rule, which is the basis for modern monasticism. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)

July 11

What’s known about the father of Western monasticism is from the “Dialogues of (Pope) St. Gregory the Great.” Sent to Rome to study, 20-year-old Benedict shunned the city’s wickedness to take up solitary living in Subiaco. He stayed there for about 25 years, with disciples he organized into 12 small communities.

Around 529 he established the monastery at Monte Cassino, near Naples, where he spent the rest of his life and finalized his famous Rule, which spread throughout Western Europe. St. Scholastica was his twin sister; St. Gregory describes their spiritual talks and moving final meeting.

Benedict is the patron saint of Europe and of spelunkers, perhaps because some of his early foundations were in caves or grottoes. He is also the patron of St. Benedict Parish in AhwatukeeBenedictine University in Mesa and of the Sisters of St. Benedict at Our Lady of Guadalupe Monastery.