Saint Benedict (c. 480 – 547) was born in Nursia, Italy, into a noble family. He had a twin sister called Scholastica, who from childhood vowed herself to God and is also a canonized saint.
At an early age Saint Benedict was sent to Rome to study, but after a few years he left the city, to pursue a life in God, repulsed by the moral depravity surrounding him. He then went to live in what is modern day Affile, where he worked his first miracle: the restoring to perfect condition of an earthenware wheat sifter which his old servant had broken. This event brought upon him some notoriety and so fled the unwanted attention by going to live alone in a cave in the mountains. Guided by the monk Romanus, who lived in a nearby monastery, he spent his time in manual labour, prayer and fasting. In his seclusion, Saint Benedict, like the Desert Fathers, had to struggle with the devil and against the many temptations which he brought, especially temptations of the flesh. During one of these temptations he was almost overcome with desire for a woman he had known. But with the help of divine grace, he stripped off his habit, threw himself into a growth of thorny bushes and rolled around within them until the temptation subsided. As a result, his body was lacerated but never again was he tempted in this way.
With time, other men, wishing to lead a similar contemplative life, joined Saint Benedict. He founded several monasteries and wrote a rule for these men which is followed to this day by Benedictine monks around the world. In 530, he founded the great Benedictine monastery of Monte Cassino, which lies on a hilltop between Rome and Naples. He died there of a fever on 21 March 547, not long after his sister, Saint Scholastica, and was buried next to her.