cover image Man of Blessing: A Life of St. Benedict

Man of Blessing: A Life of St. Benedict

Carmen Acevedo Butcher, . . Paraclete, $19.95 (190pp) ISBN 978-1-55725-485-6

This biography comes at a time of renewed interest in the saint known as the "patriarch of western monasticism" thanks to the current Roman Catholic leader's choice of Benedict as his papal name. Butcher, a scholar of ancient and medieval Christianity, interlaces what little is known of Benedict with research about the times in which he lived, drawing heavily on the second volume of Pope Gregory the Great's four-book Dialogues . Written in A.D. 593, Gregory's narrative is considered the only ancient account of the saint who sacrificed wealth and status to seek a life that would be pleasing to God. For three years, Benedict lived as a hermit in a cave before founding a string of monasteries in Italy, including the famous Monte Cassino. To her scholarly writings, Butcher adds some imaginative dialogue that might have occurred between Benedict and others. These retellings imitate the style of Gregory in his Dialogue , but also serve to make Man of Blessing more readable. Butcher concludes with helpful appendixes summarizing Benedict's brief monastic Rule and introducing the popes who have chosen his name through history. The author's observation that Benedict's story has something to say to those living in our present age of instability could generate interest in this book among Christian readers, especially those drawn to monasticism. (Mar.)