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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art


b. circa 480, Nurcia (Norcia), Italy; d. 543, near Monte Cassino, Italy

Scholastica, the twin sister of Saint Benedict, the founder of Western monasticism, may have converted her brother to Christianity from paganism. She was a nun and the leader of an early monastery for women, perhaps the first. The principal source for the lives of Benedict and Scholastica is the Dialogues of Saint Gregory the Great, in which he relates several anecdotes about their close relationship. One involves their annual visit, which they spent worshipping together and discussing theology. When Benedict announced that it was time to leave, Scholastica begged him to stay. He refused so she prayed to God, who created a storm that forced Benedict to remain at his sister’s residence.

Andrea Mantegna. Saint Scholastica, detail from the Saint Luke Altarpiece, 1453–54. Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan

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