St. Benedict was a son of a Roman noble. Born in 480, as a young man he studied in Rome but got discouraged by the lives of his companions who were living in vice and luxury. Reading the gospel had always been a part of his life. Leaving everything behind, he retreated in the mountains of Subiaco, Italy and there he lived as a hermit for several years without any human contact.
Soon after a shepherd discovered his presence, Benedict received many visitors who sought his advice, some of whom decided to follow him. He was invited to become an abbot of a nearby monastery, but he knew that his way of life was far stricter. Indeed, he encountered many problems in this monastery; three times, he was poisoned but was saved each time by divine intervention. This is why his name is invoked in cases of food poisoning and other stomach-related sicknesses. He left this monastery and returned to his cave in Subiaco where again people gathered around him.
He established monasteries in the hills nearby and his sister St. Scholastica followed his footsteps, creating a monastery for women. St. Benedict became the father of these monasteries, and his most important contribution was the rule that he wrote for them. That rule became the inspiration for many other monasteries that sprouted in Europe, all bearing the name of St. Benedict.
According to tradition, St. Benedict died in Monte Cassino, Italy on March 21, 547, and was named patron protector of Europe by Pope Paul VI in 1964. His feast day is July 11, that is why the Knights of St. Benedict recommends that a novena prayer is offered to him starting July 3rd of every year.