Christianity became the official state religion early in the 4th century, and with this new status began an unfortunate secularization of the Church. When the Christian faith was mixed with the Roman world, the world did not become Christian so much as Christians became worldly. In reaction, many earnest Christians fled to the desert and ultimately to monasteries and convents as a way of escaping the world and living a faithful life. Into this climate Benedict of Nursia arouse to bring new life to the Christian world.
Born into a good family in the Umbrian village of Nursia and educated at Rome, Benedict grew weary of the evils of the city and fled to the mountains of Subaiaco to live as a hermit. He became well known for his piety, his wisdom, and his humility. In A. D. 529 he founded a monastery on Monte Cassino, midway between Naples and Rome, and he remained there until his death.
In this monastery Benedict wrote his famous Rule, which provided a much needed accountability to the many roving prophets and hermits of the day. In The Rule Benedict gives clear, direct, and effective disciplines for living a holy life. His writings inspired an important period of renewal and are still with us today because of their wisdom and insight.