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Book Two of the Dialogues: Life of Saint Benedict


At another time, there was a great dearth in the same country of Campania: so that all kind of people tasted of the misery: and all the wheat of Benedict's monastery was spent, and likewise all the bread, so that there remained no more than five loaves for dinner. The venerable man, beholding the monks sad, both rebuked them modestly for their pusillanimity, and again comforted them with a promise. "Why," said he, "are you so grieved in your minds for lack of bread? Indeed, today there is some want, but tomorrow you shall have plenty."

And so it fell out, for the next day two hundred bushels of meal were found in sacks before his cell door, which almighty God sent them: but by whom, or what means, that is unknown to this very day: which miracle when the monks saw, they gave God thanks, and by this learned in want, not to make any doubt of plenty.

PETER: Tell me, I pray you, whether this servant of God had always the spirit of prophecy, when himself pleased, or only at certain times?

GREGORY: The spirit of prophecy does not always illuminate the minds of the prophets; because, as it is written of the Holy Ghost that "he breathes where he will" [John 3:8], so we are also to know that he does breathe likewise for what cause, and when he pleases. And hereof it comes, that when king David demanded of Nathan whether he might build a temple for the honor of God, the prophet Nathan gave his consent; and yet afterward utterly forbid it.

From hence likewise it proceeds that, when Elisha saw the woman weeping, and knew not the cause, he said to his servant that troubled her: "Let her alone, for her soul is in grief, and God hath concealed it from me, and hath not told me" [4 Kings 4:27]. Which thing almighty God of great piety so disposes: for giving at some times the spirit of prophecy, and at other times withdrawing it, he does both lift up the prophets minds on high, and yet does preserve them in humility: that by the gift of the Spirit, they may know what they are by God's grace: and at other times, destitute of the same Spirit, may understand what they are of themselves.

PETER: There is very great reason in what you say. But, I pray you, let me hear more of the venerable man Benedict, if there be anything else that comes to your remembrance.


OSB Index | Gen. Information | Saint Benedict


25 July 2001
Order of Saint Benedict
Collegeville, MN 56321-2015


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