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St. Benedict and the Holy Rule

Benedictine Presence in the Philippines

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Holy Rule of St. Benedict
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St Benedict and the Benedictines

St. Benedict, the founder of the Ordo Sancti Benedicti (OSB) or Order of St. Benedict, was born in the Umbrian town of Nursia, near Spoleto, Italy, in the waning years of the Roman Empire, AD 480. He hailed from a well-established family and is believed to have a twin sister, St. Scholastica. Acclaimed as the Father of Western Monasticism, St. Benedict was declared the Patron of Europe in 1964 by Pope Paul VI.

While studying in Rome, St. Benedict became disillusioned with the world- liness he saw around. Eventually he took to solitude in a cave in Subiaco. After undergoing a deep spiritual experience, he established ten monasteries, including one at Monte Cassino. Here, he wrote the Holy Rule, an embodiment of the balance between prayer and work. According to tradition, he died in Monte Cassino about the year AD 547.

St. Benedict of Nursia
The Benedictines reached far within Europe and spread the ideals of the Holy Rule. They preached the Gospel and preserved the Scriptures and other sacred writings of the Church as well as other classical literary treasures. They likewise engaged in teaching the young and serving the poor and the sick. The Benedictine influence was so great that the period 6th – 13th centuries of Europe was referred to by historians as Benedictine centuries.

In the Philippines: As Missionaries & Monks

In the middle of the 19th century, a hostile and anticlerical government in Spain closed the novitiates. Years later, concessions were granted allowing novitiates which operated missions in foreign countries to open. Hence, the Benedictine Abbey of Montserrat in Cataluņa, Spain started to establish missions in the Philippines and in Australia.

The Benedictine monks arrived in the Philippines on September 12, 1895. They started missionary work in Surigao in 1896. R. Rev. Jose Deas y Villar, OSB, founded the Benedictine community in Mindanao. Thus, grew the roots of Benedictine tradition in the Philippines.

And as Educators

A few years after the monks’ Mindanao mission, the Benedictine community transferred their residence and apostolate to Balmes St. in Quiapo, Manila. The Benedictines witnessed many political and social changes in the Philippines as our people struggled under the Spanish and American colonization. Despite tremendous odds, however, they remained steadfast and pursued a new apostolate: education.

Fr. Juan Sabater, OSB Under the leadership of Fr. Juan Sabater, OSB, El Colegio de San Beda was established on June 17, 1901. Fr. Sylvestre Jofre, OSB, the first rector, dedicated the school to the cause of Catholic education and the making of Christian gentlemen committed to excellence and service of God and country. San Beda College has since emerged as one of the leading educational institutions in the country.

By the 1960’s the Benedictine community consisted mostly of Filipinos and leadership was gradually transferred to the Filipino monks.

The rage and restiveness that marked the late 60’s and the early 70’s led to the historic decision by the Benedictine monks to establish another campus in a more peaceful place than Mendiola, Manila. The Benedictines finally chose the hilly Alabang in Muntinlupa as the site of the new campus. A modern edifice was constructed in 1972 on a nine and a half hectare lot inside the upscale Alabang Hills Village.
 
 
THE BENEDICTINE MONKS
          The founder of the Benedictine Order is St. Benedict of Nursia, Italy (480-547 A.D.).    St. Benedict had a twin sister named St. Scholastica.  At the age of 17, answering the call of God instead of studying in Rome, St. Benedict went sincerely to the mountains of Subiaco to live as a hermit.  He lived there for three years known only to the holy monk Romanus who provided him with food and clothing.  Soon the fame of his holiness spread rapidly and people flocked to him.
          After building 12 monasteries at Subiaco, he founded the Abbey of Monte Casino, a place about 80 miles Southeast of Rome.  In this monastery, he wrote the Holy Rule and lived until his death on March 21, 547 A.D.
          The Abbey of Monte Casino became the cradle of the Benedictine Order.  From the great monastery, the Benedictine Order spread far and wide, becoming one of the chief formative factors in the development of the New Europe.  The Benedictine monks became the pioneers of Christian civilization, preaching the Gospel, serving the poor and sick and teaching religion and various crafts to the young.  So great was their influence that the centuries from the 6th to the 13th are called by the historians the "Benedictine centuries" and St. Benedict is known as the "Father of Western Monasticism".
 
BENEDICTINE PIONEERS IN THE PHILIPPINES
          The Benedictines came to the Philippines not to establish a school but to undertake agricultural and missionary work in Surigao.  The first group of Benedictines from the Monastery of Monseratt, Spain, consisting of eight Fathers and six Brothers, led by abbot Jose Deas y Villar, arrived in Manila in the morning of September 12, 1985.    They stayed for a while with the Jesuit community in Sta. Ana.  They were able to acquire a house in Blames St., Tanduay on April 25, 1896.  This was to be their home base in Manila.
          The Benedictines stayed in Surigao from May 1896 to September 1909 when the missions were turned over to the Dutch Fathers of the Sacred Heart missionaries, Fr. Juan Sabater, then Superior, thought of counteracting the influence of public schools established by the American Government and the American Protestant Missionaries.  Coupled with this purpose was an imperative need of sustaining the monastic community with suitable work for its members.
          After overcoming several obstacles - lack of trained personnel, finances, permit to operate, suitable place and the uncertainty of the future - and trusting in the Divine Providence, the community approved the establishment of a school.  On June 17, 1901 San Beda College, named after the great English Benedictine scholar and saint, Venerable Bede, was inaugurated in Arlegui with Fr. Silvestre Jofre, first Rector, celebrating the opening Mass at 6 o'clock in the morning.
          The curricula were composed of Primaria Ensenanza and Secundaria Ensenanza.  The Primaria Ensenanza consisted of class Infirma, Media and Superior, the equivalent of the first grades of the present elementary system.  The Secundaria Ensenanza was made up of the four years of high school and the first two years of college leading to a Bachelor of Arts degree and a course leading to a Diploma in commerce.
          On January 24, 1906, after an agreement, the Pontifical University of Sto. Tomas recognized all courses offered by San Beda College.  In 1910, San Beda was granted government recognition and the authority to confer the degree of Bachelor of Arts and diplomas for the Elementary and High School.
          When the Arlegui campus became congested, the Benedictine Fathers purchased a large tract of land along Mendiola on October 17, 1906 and additional land also along Mendiola on December 15, 1918.  The cornerstone of the main building (St. Bede's Hall) was laid on September 15, 1925 and it was solemnly inaugurated on June 20, 1926 coinciding with the silver jubilee of the opening of San Beda College.  The Abbey Church was consecrated on January 13, 1926.
          As the college population grew, more buildings and facilities were constructed.  St. Benedict's Hall was inaugurated on February 24, 1952 while St. Anselm's Hall was inaugurated in July, 1963.  The swimming pools were completed on February 2, 1968.    St. Placid's Hall, which houses the medical-dental clinic and the bookstore, was completed on November 13, 1976.  The athletics/scouting building was blessed on January 23, 1982 while St. Maur's Hall was inaugurated in 1996.
          In 1971, in view of the decrease of religious personnel, the administration decide to reduce its commitment to collegiate education and concentrate on the primary and secondary levels.  The Commerce courses were phased-out and the Liberal Arts courses were reduced to Political Science and Economics.
          In 1974, before the phase-out was completed, the administration decided to retain the College of Arts and Sciences.  The Commerce courses offered were Accounting and Marketing.    Spanish as a third major area was added to the Liberal Arts courses in 1976.    With the proper approval of the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Management course was revived in 1977, while Political Science was phased-out in 1979.   The Philosophy and Letters program was offered in 1984 as an additional major area to the Liberal Arts program of the College.
          In 1990, a new program, B.S. Accountancy, was introduced to replace the B.S.C. Accounting making Accountancy a separate course.  In 1993, new programs were introduced such as BSC major in Business Management and Entrepreneurship (to replace BSC Management), BSC Marketing Management (to replace BSC Marketing), AB major in Economics with Computer Applications (to replace AB Economics), AB major in Philosophy and Human Resources Development (to replace AB major in Philosophy and Letters), and BSC computer Application and Information Science.
          The San Beda College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) is a charter member of the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (PAASCU).  There were then only eleven chartered members in 1957, the CAS has been repeatedly re-accredited by PAASCU in 1961, 1968, 1975, 1982, and 1990.
          In 1992, San Beda College was cited by the DECS, this time as one of the best private schools offering excellent higher education programs in Liberal Arts, Commerce and Law.
          In 1994, San Beda College was cited by the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS) as one of the top 10 schools which offer the Accounting course and where graduates have been topping the CPA Board Exams.
 
HOLY INFANT OF PRAGUE
          The Abbey Church was dedicated to the Holy Infant of Prague when it was consecrated in 1926.    The image of the Sto. Niņo sculptured in 1905 was, installed above the Abbatial throne of the altar.  The College celebrates the annual feast of the Infant Child on the fourth Sunday of January.
          Devotion to the Holy Infant has become part of the tradition of San Beda College.  The year triduum-novena and procession are religious activities anticipated not only by the members of the school community but also by devotees of the Sto. Niņo all over Metro Manila.
 
OUR LADY OF MONTSERRAT
          The patroness of the College is Our Lady of Montserrat after whom the first abbey of the Benedictine Order in the country is named.
          The dark image of the Blessed Virgin, donated by Mr. Bartolome Oller, was brought to the Philippines by the first group of Benedictine monks.  The image later was enthroned in a modest chapel in Tanduay Street and later transferred to the Abbey Church.  The College celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of Montserrat on September 12.
 
ST. BEDE
          The College Commemorates the feast of St. Bede, its patron saint, on the first day of the schoolyear.
          St. Bede was born in 673 A.D. in Wearmouth Estate within the territory of the monastery of Abbot Benedict Bishop.  He joined the Benedictine Order at the Abbey of St. Peter, England.  St. Bede was later transferred to the Abbey of St. Paul at Jarrow.
          As a young man, St. Bede showed exceptional intelligence.  His brilliance and extraordinary talent attracted men to the Abbey of St. Paul to see his works.  Though he was a well known preacher, St. Bede spent most of his time in historical researches.    His famous work was the "Ecclesiastical History of the English People".   St. Bede died after dictating the last sentence of his translation in English of the Gospel according o St. John at the ninth hour of Wednesday, the Feast of the Ascension, May 26, 735.
 
SAN BEDA COLLEGE
          The school is a community composed of students, parents, teachers, administrators, service personnel and alumni.  At its heart and pervading its life is a teacher-discipline relationship which reflects the love between parent and child.  The prime concern of this community is the education of the young, the advancement of knowledge, the promotion of culture, and the transformation of values.  In its objectives, the school aims to serve the needs of its various sectors.
          As a Catholic school, San Beda College undertakes the mission of education as its share in the task of spreading the gospel, witnessing to Christ's presence in the world, and building the Kingdom of God here on earth by promoting justice, unity and peace.  As a Benedictine school, San Beda College lays special emphasis on prayer, work, study, and community life.  As a Filipino school, it aims to serve the needs of Philippine society, particularly the need for development and for political, economic and social reform in the light of the Gospel.
          San Beda College shares the convictions that all persons, regardless of their status in life, are endowed with a dignity founded on what they are, and not on what they have, and hence, all personal and communal resources are harnessed to promote this dignity.    Furthermore, San Beda College shares the conviction that a truly just and humane society can emerge through peaceful means and that education can contribute to this process.