Fresco of Saint Scholastica and Saint Benedict, unknown, 15th Century, Nursia, Italy
From the Dialogues of Gregory the Great:
[Benedict’s] sister Scholastica, who had been consecrated to God in early childhood, used to visit with him once a year. On these occasions he would go down to meet her in a house belonging to the monastery a short distance from the entrance.
For this particular visit he joined her there with a few of his disciples, and they spent the whole day singing God’s praises and conversing about the spiritual life. When darkness was setting in, they took their meal together and continued their conversation at the table until it was quite late. Then the holy nun said to him, “Please do not leave me, brother. Let us keep on talking about the joys of heaven till morning.”
“What are you saying, sister?” he replied. “You know I cannot stay away from the monastery.”
The sky was so clear at the time, there was not a cloud in sight. At her brother’s refusal Scholastica folded her hands on the table and rested her head upon them in earnest prayer. When she looked up again, there was a sudden burst of lightning and thunder accompanied by such a downpour that Benedict was unable to set foot outside the door.
By shedding a flood of tears while she prayed, this holy nun had darkened the cloudless sky with a heavy rain. The storm began as soon as her prayer was over. In fact, the two coincided so closely that the thunder was already resounding as she raised her head from the table. The very instant she ended her prayer the rain poured down.
Realizing that he could not return to the abbey in this terrible storm, Benedict complained bitterly: “God forgive you, sister!” he said. “What have you done?”
Scholastica simply answered, “When I appealed to you, you would not listen to me. So I turned to God, and my prayer was heard by God. Leave now, if you can. Leave me here and go back to your monastery.
This, of course, he could not do. He had no choice but to stay, in spite of his unwillingness. They spent the entire night together and both of them derived great profit from the holy thoughts they exchanged about the interior life.
Here you have my reason for saying that this holy man was once unable to obtain what he desired. If we consider his point of view, we can readily see that he wanted the sky to remain as clear as it was when he came down from the monastery. But this wish of his was thwarted by a miracle almighty God performed in answer to a woman’s prayer. We need not be surprised that in this instance she proved mightier than her brother; she had been looking forward so long to this visit. Do we not read in St. John that God is love? Surely it is no more than right that her influence was greater than his, since hers was the greater love.