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Book Two of the Dialogues: Life of Saint Benedict


GREGORY: At another time he was asked by a certain virtuous man, to build an Abbey for his monks on his property, not far from the city of Terracina. The holy man agreed, and appointed an Abbot and Prior, with diverse monks under them. When they were departing, he promised that, on such a day, he would come and show them in what place the oratory should be made, and where the refectory should stand, and all the other necessary rooms.

So they, taking his blessing, went their way; and on the day appointed, which they had greatly expected, they made all such things ready as were necessary to entertain him and those that would come in his company. But the very night before, the man of God appeared to the Abbot and the Prior while they slept, and described particularly where each place and office was to be built.

When they both rose from sleep, they conferred together what each of them had seen in their sleep. Not yet giving full credit to that vision, they expected the man of God himself in person, according to his promise. But when they saw that he did not come, they went to him very sorrowfully, saying: "We expected, father, that you would have come as you promised, and tell us where each place should have been built, yet you did not."

To them he answered: "Why do you say so, good brethren? Did I not come as I promised you?" And when they asked at what time it was, he said, "Why, did not I appear to each of you in your sleep, and appoint how and where every place was to be built? Go your way, and according to that plan that you then saw, build up the abbey." At which word they much marveled, and returning, they built the abbey in such as way as they had been taught by his revelation.

PETER: Gladly would I learn, by what means that could be done: to wit, that he should go so far to tell them that thing in their sleep, which they should both hear and know by vision.

GREGORY: Why do you, Peter, seek out and doubt, in what manner this thing was done? For certain it is, that the soul is of a more noble nature than the body. And by authority of scripture we know that the prophet Habakkuk was carried from Judea with that dinner that he had, and was suddenly set in Chaldea; by which meat the prophet Daniel was relieved: and presently after was brought back again to Judea.

If, then, Habakkuk could in a moment with his body go so far, and carry provision for another man's dinner: what marvel is it, if the holy father Benedict obtained grace to go in spirit and to inform the souls of his brethren that were asleep, concerning such things as were necessary: and that as Habakkuk about corporal meat went corporally, so Benedict should go spiritually about the dispatch of spiritual business?

PETER: I confess that your words have satisfied my doubtful mind. But I would know what manner of man he was in his ordinary talk and conversation.


OSB Index | Gen. Information | Saint Benedict


25 July 2001
Order of Saint Benedict
Collegeville, MN 56321-2015


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