Benedict, as the First European

Researcher Outlines Saint’s Vision of Culture

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STRASBOURG, France, DEC. 12, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Amid the ongoing debates over secularism, a new book focuses on the contribution of St. Benedict and the Benedictines to the continent’s humanism.

The volume, entitled “St. Benedict, the First European,” written by Polish researcher Ludmilla Grygiel, was presented at the initiative of the Life and Family Foundation of Subiaco, for the 140th anniversary of the proclamation of the saint as patron of Europe. The book was presented at the headquarters of the European Parliament.

At the presentation Grygiel recalled that “the period following antiquity, in which St. Benedict lived, had many features similar to those of postmodernity.”

“The present European crisis,” she said, “is not due so much to economic difficulties or political differences, as it is to Europeans’ identity crisis, caused by forgetfulness of their own cultural provenance, and rejection of their own genealogy.”

According to the writer, “St. Benedict leads us to a sphere that precedes and transcends politics, namely culture; he reminds us of Europe’s primordial cultural unity.”

“With loving care, he is concerned about the integral development of man with full respect for his dignity and divine rights,” thus determining “the special character of European culture, whose center is the human person,” the researcher said.

Thanks to Benedict (480-543), one the phenomena characteristic of Western Christianity — the separation of throne and altar — began to be affirmed, the Pole said.

At the same time, the founder of Western monasticism inspired the formulation of politics as service to the good of each person and to the common good, Grygiel added.

Therefore, “the Christianization of Europe coincides with the process of humanization of politics and legislation which are nourished by fundamental Christian values,” she said. “Together with the New Evangelization, there should be a course on the new Europeanization of Europe, inspired by what it was at the beginning.”

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