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Benedict was born around 480 in a little Italian town called Nursia. His family belonged to the lower nobility of great landowners. Before reaching the age of twenty he had already been sent to Rome to study literature. However, Benedict did not enjoy the academic environment, nor the social decadence surrounding it. He felt the need for something else. He left again and went further inland this time. After a while he withdrew in order to live by himself, as his earliest biographer, Gregory the Great, puts it in his Dialogues.

What Benedict desired was to truly seek God. That is why, young and determined as he was, he opened up to the heart of the Gospel for the sake of purity and total availablity to God, as he listened to and weighed His Word. He became a monk, and went to live in solitude in a cave in Subiaco (sub iacum in Latin).

Led by Providence he went to Monte Cassino where he was to remain for the rest of his life. It was here that he built the great monastery that is still honoured as the most ancient of all Benedictine monasteries. It was here that he wrote the Rule that has become a guide along life's way to countless generations of saints and monks, and to this very day gives direction to our monastic life. Together with his sister, Scholastica, he started the female branch of the Order of Saint Benedict, that is subject to the same Rule.