Lives of the Saints

Our Models and Protectors

February 12
  February 11

Saint Benedict of Anian

Abbot
(750-821)

Saint Benedict of Anian
Saint Benedict of Anian

Saint Benedict of Anian was the son of Aigulf, Governor of Languedoc, and was born about 750. In his early youth he served as cup-bearer to King Pepin and his son Charlemagne, under them enjoying great honors and possessions. Grace entered his soul at the age of twenty, and he resolved to seek the kingdom of God with his whole heart. Without relinquishing his place at court, he lived there a very mortified life for three years; then a narrow escape from drowning made him vow to leave the world, and he entered the cloister of Saint Seine, near Langres.

In reward for Saint Benedict's heroic austerities in the monastic state, God bestowed upon him the gift of tears, and inspired him with a knowledge of spiritual things. As procurator for the monastery, he was very solicitous for the wants of the brethren, and most hospitable to the poor and to guests. Declining to accept the abbacy, he built himself a little hermitage on the Anian brook, and lived some years in great solitude and poverty.

When the fame of his sanctity drew many souls to him, he was obliged to build a large abbey, and within a short time governed three hundred monks. He became the great restorer of monastic discipline throughout France and Germany. First, he drew up with immense labor a code of the rules of the first Saint Benedict, his patron, which he collated with those of the chief monastic founders, showing the uniformity of the exercises in each. He enforced by his Penitential their exact observance; secondly, he minutely regulated all matters regarding food, clothing, and every detail of life; and thirdly, by prescribing the same regime for all, he precluded jealousies and insured perfect charity. In a Provincial Council at which he was present, held in 813 under Charlemagne, it was declared that all monks of the West should adopt the rule of Saint Benedict of Anian. He died February 11, 821.

Reflection. The decay of monastic discipline and its restoration by Saint Benedict prove that none are safe from loss of fervor, but that all can regain it by fidelity to grace.

Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler's Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894); Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 2.