St. Benedict lived in the sixth century which was one of the most chaotic times in the history of Europe. In the year 410, Rome was sacked by barbarian invaders led by Alaric, an event that terrified and confused the whole civilized world. The invaders subsequently laid ruin to the Roman Empire which was already fragile because of corrupt rulers, disease, and famine. The world as people had always known it was falling apart. Within the Catholic Church at the time, life was not much better. Theologians and bishops argued about whether Jesus was really the divine Son of God. There was also a lot of arguing about whether people really depended on God's grace to be holy. A very famous monk named Pelagius seemed to be saying holiness was something a person of strong will could achieve by himself. All this arguing created a lot of confusion and division among Catholics. The chaos even affected monks.
Uncertain about what was right or wrong anymore, monks started coming out of their solitude and forming little communities. Bishops also thought it was a good idea for monks to be more organized and better disciplined. It was about this time that St. Benedict appeared on the scene. He was a gentle “father” who loved and deeply cared for the monks in his charge. He wanted them to be led in the way of truth and to be happy with God in this life and the next. His wisdom and kindness became known by many who wanted to be monks and he soon found himself surrounded by many spiritual sons. With so many seeking to embrace the monastic way of life, it became necessary for Benedict to provide for them an orderly and disciplined way of life. Studying rules for monks which had been written up to that time, Benedict took the best teachings from each and compiled them in what came to be known as the Rule of St. Benedict.