St Romuald, Abbot

II Corinthians 6.1-10; Psalm 97; Matthew 5.38-42

Romuald was born at Ravenna to the aristocratic Onesti family around the middle of the 10th Century. When Romuald was 20 years old, his father killed a relative in a duel over property rights. Romuald was devastated by this event and went to observe 40 days of penitence at the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classe. He decided to become a monk there, but although the monastery had recently been reformed by St Mayuel, the influential Abbot of Cluny, Romuald found its observances lax and he made himself unpopular in the community by zealous correction of the faults of others. He retired to Venice where he placed himself under the direction of a hermit, Marinus, and lived a life of extraordinary severity.

About 978 he left Venice because of political instability there and with Marinus established a hermitage at Cuxa, where he was to remain for ten years, refining his ideals of monasticism. After that he spent 30 years going around Italy, establishing monasteries and hermitages. The Holy Roman Emperor Otto III persuaded him to become Abbot of Sant’Apollinare, but after a year of attempting to reform the monastery he left in disgust, throwing down his abbatial staff at the feet of the emperor. He returned to a hermit’s life, coming eventually to Camaldoli where, according to legend, a certain Maldolus, having had a vision of a monk ascending into heaven, gave him land. There he established the hermitage which became the mother house of the Camaldolese Order. He died in 1027 after a life of prayer and rigorous penance.

Posted in Daily Reflection.