Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/St. Benedict of Aniane

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 2
St. Benedict of Aniane

by Johann Peter Kirsch


Born about 745-750; died at Cornelimünster, 11 February, 821. Benedict, originally known as Witiza, son of the Goth, Aigulf, Count of Maguelone in Southern France, was educated at the Frankish court of Pepin, and entered the royal service. He took part in the Italian campaign of Charlemagne (773), after which he left his royal master to enter the religious life, and was received into the monastery of St. Sequanus (Saint-Seine). He gave himself most zealously to practices of asceticism, and learned to value the Rule of St. Benedict as the best foundation for the monastic life. Returning home in 779, he established on his own land near the little river of Aniane a new monastic settlement, which soon developed into a great monastery, under the name of Aniane, and became the model and centre of the monastic reform in France, introduced by Louis the Pious. The emperor's chief adviser was Benedict, and the general adoption of the Rule of St. Benedict in the monasteries of the Empire was the most important step towards the reform. Benedict took a prominent part in the synods held in Aachen in 816 and 817, the results of which were embodied in the important prescriptions for the restoration of monastic discipline, dated 10 July, 817; he was the enthusiastic leader of these assemblies, and he himself reformed many monasteries on the lines laid down in the ordinances promulgated there. In order to have him in the vicinity of his royal residence, Louis had founded on the Inde, a stream near Aachen, the Abbey of Cornelimünster, which was to be an exemplar for all other abbeys, and to be under the guidance of Benedict. In the dogmatic controversy over Adoptionism, under the leadership of Felix of Urgel, Benedict took the part of orthodoxy. To promote the monastic reforms, he compiled a collection of monastic rules. A pupil of his, the monk Ardo, wrote a biography of the great abbot.

For Benedict's writings, see Codex regularum monasticarum et canonicarum in P.L., CIII, 393-702; Concordia regularum, loc. cit; Letters, loc. cit., 703-1380. Other treatises (loc. cit., 1381 sqq.) ascribed to him are probably not authentic. ARDO SMARAGDUS, Life, op. cit., CIII, 353 sqq.; Mon. Germ. Hist.: Script., XV, I, 200-220; Acta SS., Feb., II, 606 sqq.; NICOLAI, Der hl. Benedict, Gründer von Aniane und Cornelimünster (Cologne, 1865); PAULINIER, S. Benoit d'Aniane et la fondation du monastere de ce nom (Montpellier, 1871); FOSS, Benedikt von Aniane (Berlin, 1884); PUCKERT, Aniane und Gellone (Leipzig, 1899); HAUCK, Kirchengesch. Deutschlands (2nd ed., Leipzig, 1900), II, 575 sqq.; BUTLER, Lives of the Saints, 12 Feb.

J.P. KIRSCH