St. Romuald was born in Ravenna, Italy in 950. He was born to an aristocratic family and had wealth. As a youth, according to early accounts, Romuald indulged in the pleasures and sins of the world, common to a tenth-century nobleman. One day after watching his father kill an opponent in a duel, the 20-year old Romuald was devastated and fled to the Abbey in Classe.
After some indecision, Romuald became a monk there. Romuald held a desire for a stricter way of life than he found in that community, so three years later he withdrew to become a hermit on a remote island in the region, accompanied solely by an older monk, Marinus, who served as his spiritual master. Romuald having gained a reputation for holiness, accepted his master’s advice, and fled in the night to Catalonia to take the monastic habit. Together they established a hermitage near the Benedictine Abbey of St. Michael. Eventually, his father converted and became a monk in his order.
Romuald was drawn and accredited for founding several monasteries and hermitages, including the monastery of Val Di Castro – where he died in 1027. Maldolus was the Abbot of one Monastery, and had a vision of monks in “white garments” ascending into Heaven. He was so moved he gave Romuald some land. St. Romuald built on this land five cells for hermits called Campus Maldoli. This later became the motherhouse of the Camaldolese Order. Five years after building this hermitage he died, as he had prophesied, alone in his cell – unattended. Many miracles were wrought at his tomb, over which an altar was allowed to be erected in 1032. In 1466, 439 years after his death, his body was found still incorrupt! He is represented in art pointing to a ladder on which monks are ascending into Heaven.
Practical Take Away
As the life of St. Romuald shows, he was raised with nobility and wealth. In that world he indulged in the sins of his time, paying little attention to his life to come, in Heaven. After witnessing some horrible event – he denounced the world, and became a monk. He spent the most part of his life working to build up the kingdom of God by building monasteries and hermitages. It is not what we have done that will get us to heaven, rather our changing our life from this world, to that of God’s. Romuald shows us how to do that by the example of his life. At the end, he merited Heaven for all eternity by making the choices that were pleasing to God. We too, can turn from our sinfulness of this world, and say yes to God – working to build His kingdom on earth!
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