The Rule, Article 4

Saturday, April 3, 2010


Benedict was born in San Fratello near Messina, Italy in 1526. His parents were negro slaves who had been transported from Africa to Italy where they converted to Christianity. At the age of eighteen Benedict was given his freedom. He was popularly called the holy black by the poor and the sick who benefited by his charities and benevolent services. He was chosen the leader of a group of independent hermits on the death of the founder. When Pius IV disbanded this and the similar groups, Benedict was received into the Order of the Friars Minor. Though illiterate he soon became the guardian of the Franciscan Friary of Saint Mary in Palermo. Because of his extraordinary gifts of prayer and counsel people of every class sought his guidance. He died in Palerno in 1589 and is venerated as the patron of the Blacks in North America.

From the common of holy men: religious, 1470

True Brotherhood
The life of every saint presents a challenge and offers to others encouragement to holiness. The time, place and circumstances of life are peculiar to each saint, and they vary with each one. It is the use of divine grace and conformity to the divine will which consecrate the circumstances and sanctify the person using them. Use of grace and conformity to God's will constitute the challenge and the power of example that give courage to all Christians to apply the same means to achieve the same basic goal, each in his own way, in his own time, and to his own situation.
The challenge which Saint Benedict the Black presents to us is his total response to the Lord's command at the Last Supper; I give you a new commandment: Love one another. Such as my love has been for you, so should your love be for one another. The integration of Benedict the Black into a community of Franciscan confreres racially and ethnically different from himself, their mutual acceptance and love for one another, the choice which the Friars made to have Benedict, through illiterate, become the superior and the guardian of their religious community - these present a timely challenge. They are the source of great encouragement toward holiness through love of neighbor for the love of God. And this challenge and encouragement are further enhanced by the power of Benedict's example not only to love his neighbor as himself but to love as Christ loved, as he said to his apostles: Your love for one another must be such as my love has been for you. In this love we find the true brotherhood for all mankind.
From: Proper Offices of Franciscan Saints and Blesseds in the Liturgy of the Hours

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