In April 2005, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger surprised many Catholics and Church-watchers by taking the name "Benedict XVI." Yes, he meant to carry on the tradition of Benedict XV (more on that soon-- it's interesting!), but he was mainly calling to mind Benedict of Nursia, better known as St. Benedict, father of Western monasticism, father of Western Christianity.
How much do you know about St. Benedict? Chances are, let's be honest, probably about as much as you know about Sts. David of Wales, Kieran, Boniface, Scholastica, Clotilde, and other Catholic saints of the Dark Ages. Fortunately, we are not left in the dark completely. St. Gregory the Great undertook to write a short biography of St. Benedict, The Life of St. Benedict, that has been republished by TAN Books as a $3.00, 70-page booklet. This little book can be read in a day, and will provide context for the present papacy and a great deal of thematic inspiration.
After reading this biography, turn to Salt of the Earth and God and the World by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger and Peter Seewald. There are great passages on what St. Benedict meant to Cardinal Ratzinger long before he became pope.
Have a good Sunday! Ellen