St. Benedict & St. Scholastica: Italy’s Pennies From Heaven

benedict-statueI am not a singer by any means. But ever since the first full day of our WINE (Women in the New Evangelization) WINE and Shrine Pilgrimage began, I can’t get that familiar tune out of my head and my heart.

Every time it rains
It rains pennies from heaven
Don’t you know each cloud contains
Pennies from heaven
You’ll find your fortune
Fallin’ all over town
Be sure that your umbrella is upside down.

A main focus of our ten-day trip is to help women get closer to Jesus and the Church through the lives of some of our greatest saints. As I explain in my latest book “Girlfriends and Other Saints,” the saints want to really be our BFF’s. They’re our sisters, our cheerleaders, our teammates, and companions on our journey of faith. And sometimes members of the Communion of Saints can be quite loud, bold, and in your face obvious when they want to get our attention.

group-under-statueSunday, for example, during our first full day, we headed out from Assisi to the stunning Umbrian town of Norcia, birthplace of St. Benedict and his sister St. Scholastica. As you can see from the lovely group photo taken under the statue of St. Benedict in the main piazza, it started out as a beautiful sunny day. After Mass however, the storm clouds rolled in and began to shower us with plenty of pennies from heaven, or more specifically pennies from St. Scholastica’s corner of heaven. You see thunderstorms and heavy rains are closely associated with our saintly sister. Before St. Scholastica passed away, Christ gave her a vision of her death. St. Scholastica met with her brother once a year to discuss spiritual matters, and since she was not allowed to enter his monastery in Monte Cassino, he met her at a home several miles away. During what would be their final earthly visit, and knowing that she had little time left on this earth, St. Scholastica begged her brother to stay and continue their reflections into the morning. Benedict refused to spend the night away from the monastery. I guess we could say that St. Scholastica then decided to “storm” heaven with prayers asking God to somehow prevent her brother from leaving. Well, ask and you shall receive. Scholastica’s prayers were answered with the perfectly timed arrival of a thunderstorm so severe that Benedict was forced to stay with his sister. Three days later she died.

St. Scholastica reminded us this week of her presence in her hometown of Norcia. Yes, the rain made it a bit more difficult to get around especially on slippery cobblestoned streets. But we’re on pilgrimage after all. We’re doing our best to be open to the intercession of the saints; to spot those pennies from heaven, and to make sure the umbrella of our hearts are upside down and open to what God has in store on this pilgrimage journey and beyond.