Here is St Gregory the Great’s account of the death of St Benedict: ‘Six days before his departure he caused his grave to be opened, and immediately after he fell into a fever, by the violence whereof his strength began to wax faint, and the infirmity daily increasing, the sixth day he caused his disciples to carry him into the Oratory, where he did arm himself for his going forth by receiving the body and Blood of the Lord; then, supporting his weak limbs by the hands of his disciples, he stood up, his hands lifted towards Heaven, and with words of prayer at last breathed forth his soul.

The same day two of his Brethren, the one living in the Monastery and the other in a place far remote, had a revelation in one and the self-same manner. For they beheld a way, spread with garments and shining with innumerable lamps, stretching directly eastwards from his cell up to Heaven; a man of venerable aspect stood above and asked them whose way that was. But they professing they knew not, he said to them: “This is the way by which the beloved of the Lord, Benedict, ascended.” Thus the disciples who were present knew of the death of the holy man, and so also those who were absent understood it by the sign foretold them. He was buried in the Oratory of St. John the Baptist which he himself had built upon the ruins of Apollo’s altar’.

Although the ‘transitus’ of St Benedict is commemorated in March, the account is worth repeating now, for its beauty and loving tenderness. St Benedict indeed shines as a lamp in our own day, both for the holiness of his life and for his wisdom in guiding our lives. May he pray for us, and may God bless you this day.