St. Romuald, Founder of the Camaldolese Benedictines


St. Romuald, Founder of the Camaldolese Benedictines, Who Interpret the Rule for a Semi-Eremitic Manner of Life.

From Catholic Online.

St. Romuald was born at Ravenna about the year 956. In spite of an infinite desire for virtue and sanctity, his early life was wasted in the service of the world and its pleasures. Then one day, obliged by his father, Sergius, to be present at a duel fought by him, he beheld him slay his adversary. The crime made such an impression upon him that he determined to expiate it for forty days, as though it were entirely his own. For this purpose he retired to a Benedictine monastery of St. Apollinare, near Ravenna, where he became Abbot. After founding several monasteries, he laid the foundations of the austere Order of Camaldoli in Tuscany. Like all the saints, he fought a lifelong battle against the assaults of devils and men. In the beginning of his spiritual life he was strongly assailed by numerous temptations, which he conquered by vigilance and prayer. More than one attempt was made on his life, but Divine Providence enabled him to escape from the danger. Like many servants of God, he also became the victim of calumny, which he bore in patience and silence. In his old age, he increased his austerities instead of diminishing them. After a long life of merit, he died in the monastery of Castro, which he founded in Marquisate of Ancona. His death occurred on June 19, about the year 1027. His feast day is June 19th.

[Jason John Edwards, Obl.S.B., provides this passage from the biography of St Romuald:]

Romuald lived in the vicinity of the city of Parenzo for three years. In the first year he built a monastery and appointed an abbot with monks. For the next two years he remained there in seclusion. In that setting, divine holiness transported him to such a summit of perfection that, breathed upon by the Holy Spirit, he foresaw many future events and comprehended with the rays of his intelligence hidden mysteries of the Old and New Testament.

Frequently he was seized by so great a contemplation of divinity that he would be reduced to tears with the boiling, indescribable heat of divine love. In this condition he would cry out: Beloved Jesus, beloved, sweet honey, indescribable longing, delight of the saints, sweetness of the angels, and other things of this kind. We are unable to express the ecstasy of these utterances, dictated by the Holy Spirit.

Wherever the holy man might arrange to live, he would follow the same pattern. First he would build an oratory with an altar in a cell; then he would shut himself in and forbid access.

Finally, after he had lived in many places, perceiving that his end was near, he returned to the monastery he had built in the valley of Castro. While he awaited with certainty his approaching death, he ordered a cell to be constructed there with an oratory in which he might isolate himself and preserve silence until death.

Accordingly the hermitage was built, since he had made up his mind that he would die there. His body began to grow more and more oppressed by afflictions and was already failing, not so much from weakness as from the exhaustion of great age. One day he began to feel the loss of his physical strength under all the harassment of increasingly violent afflictions. As the sun was beginning to set, he instructed two monks who were standing by to go out and close the door of the cell behind them; they were to come back to him at daybreak to celebrate matins. They were so concerned about his end that they went out reluctantly and did not rest immediately. On the contrary, since they were worried that their master might die, they lay hidden near the cell and watched this precious treasure. For some time they continued to listen attentively until they heard neither movement nor sound. Rightly guessing what had happened, they pushed open the door, rushed in quickly, lit a candle and found the holy man lying on his back, his blessed soul snatched up into heaven. As he lay there, he seemed like a neglected heavenly pearl that was soon to be given a place of honour in the treasury of the King of kings.

[Fr. Steve Petrica provides this passage from St Peter Damian’s biography of St Romuald:]

Day by day, the love of perfection grew greater in Romuald’s soul, but his mind found no peace. He heard of a spiritual man by the name of Marino living the eremitical life in the vicinity of Venice. He easily received permission from the abbot and brethren to go to this venerable man, and he placed himself under him as a disciple, remaining in his charge with humble and sincere dedication.

In addition to the other virtues, Marino was a man of simplicity and the most sincere purity. He had received no training in the eremitical life but had willingly embraced it under the impulse of good will. So he followed this life regimen: throughout the year, three days each week, he ate a half-loaf of bread and a handful of broad beans, while on the other weekdays, he took a little wine and soup. He sang the entire Psalter each day.

However, he was quite uncouth and totally without any formation for the solitary life, as Blessed Romuald was wont to say later, with a smile. Most times when leaving the cell, he would sing the Psalms to his disciple, here and there, around the hermitage—twenty Psalms under one tree, thirty or forty under another. Romuald had left the world illiterate. So when he opened the Psalter, he would try to figure out the verses he came upon, but he would stumble when it was his turn to take up the singing. As he squinted at the page, Marino, sitting in front of him, rapped him on the left side of his head with a stick he held in his right hand. After having received many blows, Romuald felt the necessity to ask humbly, “Master, please, from now on hit me on the right side because I am losing my hearing on the left.” Then Marino, marveling at Romuald’s patience, mitigated this indiscreet severity.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s