VATICAN CITY, 25 NOV 2009 (VIS) - During today's general audience, which was celebrated in the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father spoke about Hugh and Richard of St. Victor, two monks who lived and exercised their magisterium in the abbey of St. Victor in Paris which, from the twelfth century, was home to an important school of monastic and scholastic theology.
Little is known, said the Pope, of the origins of Hugh of St. Victor. He was born "perhaps in Saxony or in Flanders" and died in the year 1141. "He acquired considerable fame and respect, to the point of being called a 'second St. Augustine'" for his dedication to "the profane and theological sciences".
"Hugh of St. Victor is a typical representative of monastic theology, which is founded entirely on biblical exegesis". He maintained that, "before discovering the symbolic value and moral teaching of Bible stories, it is necessary to know and study the meaning of the history narrated in Scripture. Otherwise - he said using an effective metaphor - we run the risk of being like students of grammar who do not know the alphabet. For those who know the meaning of the history recounted in the Bible, human events appear marked by Divine Providence, in accordance with a well-ordered plan, ... though always preserving man's freedom and responsibility".
Benedict XVI then recalled how in the treatise "De Scaramentis christianae fidei" Hugh identified three elements that define a Sacrament: "institution by Christ, communication of grace, and analogy between the visible element (the matter) and the invisible element (the divine gifts)".
"Today too", he went on, "it is important that liturgical animators, especially priests, use pastoral wisdom in employing the signs specific to sacramental rites, paying especial attention to catechesis, so that each celebration of the Sacraments may be experienced by all the faithful with spiritual devotion, intensity and joy".
Turning his attention to Richard of St. Victor, the Pope explained that he was a native of Scotland and "prior of the abbey of St. Victor from 1162 to 1172, the year in which he died". In his study of the Bible, "unlike his master [Hugh], he favoured the allegorical significance, the symbolic meaning of Scripture".
In his teachings he invited the faithful "to exercise the virtues, and to learn how to use reason in order to discipline and control their inner sentiments and feelings. ... Only when man has achieved balance and human maturity in this field is he ready to move on to contemplation".
"Hugh and Richard of St. Victor raise our souls to the contemplation of heavenly reality, ... to admiration and praise of the Blessed Trinity" as a model "of perfect communion", the Holy Father concluded. "How our world would change if in families, parishes and all other communities, relationships were always lived following the example of the three divine Persons, in which each lives not only with the other, but for the other and in the other!"
Having concluded his catechesis, the Pope greeted directors and staff of the Lebanese television station "Tele Lumiere - Noursat", encouraging them "to continue generously their mission of service to the Gospel, and to peace and reconciliation in Lebanon and throughout the region".
AG/HUGH AND RICHARD OF ST. VICTOR/... VIS 20091125 (550)