T.S. Eliot lhad the European Continent in mind when he composed “The Wasteland”. Georg Ratzinger was present and on-site when the oldest monastery in the world, Monte Cassino, was destroyed by American artillery in World War II. Much of the visible roots of Christian Europe were literally ‘uprooted’ by open warfare in the 20th century, including July 11th’s Saint’s final resting place, as I said regarding Monte Cassino. Thankfully, new monastic life is taking root at the very site of Benedict of Nursia’s original monastery despite a few natural disasters. As Patron of Europe, St. Benedict’s intercession is not limited to the post-war “Wasteland”, but can truly help to rejuvenate a “new springtime” in more ways than one (Lectio Divina, Ora et Labora, etc.)
St. John Paul II located Blessed Paul VI’s Apostolic Letter Pacis Nuntius of 1964 as the first time that St. Benedict was named “Patron of Europe”. It’s no small title as JPII linked the Saint with the likes of Cyril and Methodius, the former of whom still has owns the secular right of claiming the Russian language under his namesake, Cyrilic. Wojtyla writes:
The ever-living relevance of the eminent figures of Benedict, Cyril and Methodius, as concrete models and spiritual aids for the Christians of today, and especially for the nations of the continent of Europe, which, especially through the prayers and work of these saints, have long been consciously and originally rooted in the Church and in Christian tradition.
These three saints launched never before seen waves of culture that still inspire hope and consolation in the midst of the “Wasteland”. After all, once the Roman Empire fell, the dark ages posed a similar threat to today’s paganism and degeneration. I’m reminded actually of the present day situation in inner city Detroit, a veritable “wasteland” that has hints a tremendous spiritual renewal with the latest “Unleash the Gospel” from Archbishop Vigneron!
Furthermore, St. Benedict’s legacy contributed immensely to Christian culture in the USA as well! Abbot Boniface Wimmer brought the Benedictine Rule to Pennsylvania in the 19th century and founded the Archabbey of St. Vincent where I have visited multiple times and learned Lectio Divina. There are also Benedictine Universities across the country, some in need of renewal (especially in Minnesota) and some in excellent standing, like Wimmer’s own St. Vincent’s!
There is still much to be accomplished through the living and prophetic intercession of St. Benedict of Nursia all over the world. St. John Paul II did well to emphasize patron of Europe in the letter of Paul VI, and Pope Emeritus Benedict was on the mark by choosing Benedict as his namesake. Despite the wasteland, there is over generations of faithful in the land a guarantee of a new springtime in Europe.