Benedict of Nursia (c.480–545), perhaps the most famous monk in medieval history, was born just south of Rome, schooled briefly in Rome, and became first a hermit and monk, and eventually founding abbot of Monte Cassino. Best known for his monastic rule, which was known all over western Europe by 800, Benedict’s understanding of how to live the common religious life had a profound effect on the institutionalized religious life throughout the middle ages.