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For Ages 13 and Up
St Benedict of Nursia is a Roman Catholic saint whose history has become one of the major influences on contemporary art. Born in Italy, Benedict was believed to be the illegitimate son of Emperor Maximilian and his wife Maria, Countess of Burgundy. His parents were highly respected for their religious tolerance. However, as a boy, Benedict was confused about his place in the church hierarchy and often disobeyed the rules, which earned him numerous strokes of the sword. When he was seventeen, he was accused of being a rebellious boy and put to death by beheading.
After his execution, his skull was kept by a knight, John, who was expected to challenge the emperor to retrieve it. At the trial, the emperor released John but executed all his brothers except brother Walbel. John then gathered a group of fighters and laid waste to the monastery of St Benedict, which was taken over and converted into a fortress. John then turned against the Dominican monks who had been given sanctuary at the site, and they vowed never to turn against Rome.
It is said that St Benedict took over the monastery on 21 March, following a dream in which he saw Jesus. Believing that this was the Second Coming of Christ, he put the monastery to guard by using his religious powers and prayers. He made a plea of intercession from God to the monks, asking them to allow him to lead them to heaven. Two hundred and fifty souls refused to surrender to the monastery, and St Benedict went on to lead them until they were joined by an army of German soldiers led by a knight called Ratislaus.
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