in 488 A.D. St. Benedict was born of a wealthy family, north of Rome. He had looked forward to marrying a fine young lady, but something moved his heart away from that comfortable future. It was his disgust with the vile behavior of other young men his age.
He was moved by the story of St. Anthony of Egypt, written by St. Athanasius of Alexandria. In it, Athanasius wrote about Anthony, another wealthy young man, who had permanently hid himself away in an abandoned Roman fort on the Nile.
While spending his days and nights striving to come closer to God, Anthony had adopted David’s Psalms, chanting the psalms at set hours of his days. Following on that, Benedict hid himself away in a cave thirty miles east of Rome. He too, chanted psalms at set hours of the day.
However, Benedict differed from Anthony in one way. Where Anthony, of Greek origin, had believed in strengthening the soul by punishing the body; Benedict, as a Roman, believed in having a healthy soul in a healthy body.
Benedict had spent three years in his cave east of Rome when his uncle died, leaving Benedict the beautiful sight of Monte Cassino.
In line with his belief in nurturing a healthy body and soul together, Benedict’s followers have always divided their days between prayer and hard work.