Every year on today’s feast I wonder what the average church-goer makes of St Scholastica. For most, the sixth century is a world away in thought and time. Although we dutifully name the saint of the day in our prayers, she remains vague, a strange conflation of our own ideas about nuns and fragments of half-remembered tales of holy women of old. I see that in a number of my previous posts about St Scholastica I have tackled this head on (see links at the end of this post) but I doubt very much whether I have changed anyone’s thinking or made Scholastica come alive, as it were, as the extraordinary person she must have been. Once the Church acknowledges someone’s sanctity, it seems their humanity and vivid personality are lost for ever.
Of course I exaggerate. Scholastica taught her brother, Benedict, that love and prayer can achieve what law and rigorous self-discipline alone cannot. She therefore challenges all of us who are tempted to take refuge in exact obedience or scrupulous fulfilment of the regulations. She is always urging us towards the more perfect way. I have mentioned before that the community will not use the collect for the day composed by monks of our order because it makes Scholastica out to be thoroughly soppy whereas we see her as a woman of steel. Steel is not comfortable, not malleable, nor was Scholastica. We need saints like her. The fact that she lived in the sixth century and we in the twenty-first is irrelevant. She is very much a saint for our times.
Some previous posts about St Scholastica