Today is the Solemnity of the Passing of St Benedict. He died on this date in the year 547. This month sees the celebration of two great Saints associated with Downside. St Gregory on the 12th and St Benedict on the 21st.

21st March is also associated with the first day of spring and the spring solstice – where the light and darkness are equal, and the days are getting longer and brighter.

St Benedict brought light and leadership to many generations of religious communities that continue to follow his rule for monasteries.

Benedict’s name means blessed by God: he has also been a source of blessing to the Church and to the world through the monastic life of which he is the Father.  He lived in the sixth century but monks have continued to find inspiration in his life. He provides a sure path to follow in the search for God, and leaves a legacy of values that we stand by in our school today.

The service we’re about to celebrate is Compline, the night prayer of the Church, prayed every day in the Abbey Church by the monastic community until very recently. Monks pray the liturgy of the hours seven times a day; Compline is the final one before greater silence and sleep.

Tonight we are fortunate to be in the presence of a relic of St Benedict, which brings a physical connection to the saint and an opportunity for veneration and blessing at the conclusion of tonight’s service.