Saint Benedict and His Times
Publisher: Arouca Press
Publication Date: February 19, 2021
Despite the importance of St. Benedict of Nursia in the history of the Church and of the world, we know precious little about his life. He left no written documents except his great Rule, which has wisely guided countless God-seeking souls for a millennium and a half. In the absence of an Augustinian Confessions, Benedict’s Rule supplies a self-effacing but unmistakable biography, for the Patriarch could not have lived otherwise than as he taught. Ildefonso Schuster, one of the outstanding ecclesiastical scholars of the twentieth century, has fitted St. Benedict into the times in which he lived, using the Dialogues of St. Gregory the Great as his point of departure. With an immense fund of knowledge at his disposal—historical, juridical, liturgical, archaeological, and literary—the author is able to invest the rather sketchy outline of St. Benedict with flesh and bones. No other biography of the Patriarch of Western Monasticism has ever come close to matching Schuster’s in breadth of vision or richness of scholarship.
Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster (January 18, 1880–August 30, 1954) was a Benedictine monk who served as Cardinal and Archbishop of Milan during World War II. Prior to assuming his more active role in the hierarchy, he was admired for his vast erudition, demonstrated above all in The Sacramentary, a five-volume exposition of the origins and development of the Roman liturgy. Schuster was beatified on May 12, 1996 by Pope John Paul II.
“Cardinal Schuster’s wide knowledge of the history of early canon and civil law, of the liturgy and of Italian ecclesiastical history between St Benedict and St Gregory, gives its principal interest to the book, in its interpretation both of the Rule and of the Second Book of St Gregory’s Dialogues.... The great strength and charm of the book will be found in its monastic spirit, and in the profound pietas which it breathes towards St Benedict and towards Monte Cassino.” —Aelred Sillem, OSB
“The best modern life of St Benedict is the beautiful book of Cardinal Schuster, OSB—a book full of true Benedictine spirit and monastic charm.” —Thomas Merton, OCSO
“To the ordinary reader, this life of St Benedict is a welcome book, for he will see how the minute study of contemporary history and sixth-century canonical procedure can, if carefully managed, increase his knowledge of the period and so help to explain much that might appear obscure in the Rule and the Dialogues.” —Basil Hume, OSB