The Life of Saint Benedict
We know fairly little about the life of Saint Benedict (ca. 470-547). No related documents have survived from his contemporaries. Nevertheless, 40-50 years following Benedict's death, Pope Saint Gregory the Great, based on the naration of still-alive witnesses, wrote his life in the second part of his work called Dialogues. This however, in acordance with the author's intention, is rather a sequence of short stories and miracles related to Benedict's life. The message Pope Gregory really wishes to convey to his readers is that Benedict –- Blessed in his name and by God's grace (this is the meaning of Benedictus) -– has received all gifts of the Holy Spirit. As for biographical data it is clear from the sequence of narratives that Benedict was born in Nursia (today Norcia) a small city situated among the Sabine mountains, he learnt in Rome but before finishing his studies, repelled by the immoral life there, he retired first to Enfide (today Affide) than further to Sublacum (today Subiaco) in the valley of Anio creek. He had been a hermit there for several years, then gathered disciples in a small monastery. Later, as tradition has it in 529, he went further, and finally settled on the mount of Cassinum (today Monte Cassino) and there he actually founded his monastery. He wrote his set of instructions, the Rule for his community.
For the Christian West it was the monks following the Rule of Benedict, who established monasticism.