When we are still talking about someone 1,500 years after his lifetime, when we even refer to him with titles like Father of Western Civilization or Patron of Europe, he must have been a remarkable person. But when we look back into history and try to present a picture of Benedict we are quickly disappointed.
The historical data about Benedict's life and work are uncertain and do not yield enough information to allow us a clear picture of this man. The person of Benedict constantly escapes our grasp. We cannot produce as clear a depiction as we can of, for example, St. Francis of Assisi.
What stands in the foreground is not the person of Benedict, but his work. Benedict himself disappears behind the work; his life continues in his rule for monasteries, the Regula Benedicti (Rule of Benedict). Through it he continues his effectiveness, and even today he shapes the lives of thousands of male and female monastics throughout the world.
Benedict has shaped a model of life that has been accepted over and over again through the centuries with gratitude and is seen as a way for human beings to mature as disciples of Christ.
Benedict of Nursia: His Message for Today
Anselm Grun, OSB