Benedict of Benevento, St.

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Missionary and martyr; b. Benevento, Italy; d. near Gniezno, Poland, May 11, 1003. He was the leader of the five massacred brothershimself, John, Isaac, Matthew, and Christian. Benedict had been a monk of San Salvatore in Calabria, and he later took up the life of a hermit. In 1001 he was persuaded by Bruno of Querfurt, who was eventually his biographer, to become a missionary in Poland. He and his companion John were well received by the duke, Boleslav I (d. 1025), who built a hermitage for them. Their work prospered, and they were joined by people of the district, among them Isaac, Matthew, and Christian. On a rumor that the duke had given them a great treasure, they were murdered one night by a former servant and his accomplices. They were buried in their hermitage, and the site soon became a center of pilgrimage. The cult of this group that is sometimes misleadingly called "the Five Polish Brothers" was popular in the Polish Church from an early date and was confirmed by Pope Julius II in 1508.

Feast: Nov. 12.

Bibliography: bruno of querfurt, Vita quinque fratrum, ed. r. kale in Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Scriptores (Berlin 1826) 15.2:709738. m. baronius, Vitae gesta et miracula sanctorum quinque fratrum (Cracow 1610). j. david, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. a. baudrillart et al. (Paris 1912) 8:35. a. m. zimmermann, Kalendarium Benedictinum, (Metten 193338) 3:291294.

[j. l. grassi]