The rule of seven for dating
Amongst other commentators the following deserve mention: St. Benedict's prohibition of flesh-meat did not include that of birds ; Bernard, Abbot of Monte Cassino, formerly of Lérins and afterwards a Cardinal (d.1282); Turrecremata (Torquemada) a Dominican (1468); Trithemius, Abbot of Sponheim (1516); Perez, Archbishop of Tarragona and Superior-General of the congregation of Valladolid; Haeften, Prior of Afflighem (1648); Stengel, Abbot of Anhausen (1663); Mége (1691) and Marténe (1739) Maurists ; Calmet, Abbot of Senones (1757); and Mabillon (1707), who discusses at length several portions of the Rule in his Prefaces to the different volumes of the "Acta Sanctorum O. B." It is impossible to gauge the comparative value of these and other commentaries, because the different authors treat the Rule from different points of view.This work holds the first place among monastic legislative codes, and was by far the most important factor in the organization and spread of monasticism in the West. Benedict wrote his Rule are not known, nor can it be determined whether the Rule, as we now possess it, was composed as a single whole or whether it gradually took shape in response to the needs of his monks.
Benedict's autograph, and the case is complicated by the circumstance that there is in the field another type of text, represented by the oldest known manuscript, the Oxford Hatton manuscript 42, and by other very early authorities, which certainly was the text most widely diffused in the seventh and eighth centuries. Benedict's first recension and the "autograph" his later revision, or whether the former is but a corrupted form of the latter, is a question which is still under debate, though the majority of critics lean towards the second alternative.
Benedict's own life, see the article SAINT BENEDICT. Be that as it may, this manuscript of the Rule was presented by Pope Zachary to Monte Cassino in the middle of the eighth century, a short time after the restoration of that monastery.
Here, however, it is treated in more detail, under the following heads: I. Charlemagne found it there when he visited Monte Cassino towards the end of the century, and at his request a most careful transcript of it was made for him, as an exemplar of the text to be disseminated throughout the monasteries of his empire.
As far as we know, each monastery had practically its own rule, and we have examples of this irresponsible form of monastic life in the community St.
Benedict was called from his cave to govern, and in the Gyrovagi and Sarabitae whom he mentions in terms of condemnation in the first chapter of his Rule.