Saturday, January 26, 2013

Saint Albéric of Cîteaux


Saint Albéric of Cîteaux (died January 26, 1108), sometimes known as Aubrey of Cîteaux, was a Christian saint and abbot, one of the founders of the Cistercian Order.

Albéric was a hermit in the forest of Collan in France who, along with five other hermits, invited Saint Robert of Molesme to begin a new monastery with them that would operate under the Rule of St. Benedict. Robert led these hermits to the forest of Molesme and established a religious settlement there in 1075, Molesme Abbey. Robert served as the first abbot, and Albéric as the prior. However, as the settlement's fame grew, gifts came in and the wealth attracted new monks more lax in their observance of the rule. The Molesmes community was divided, and the monks opposed Robert and Albéric. Robert twice left the monastery to live as a hermit, and twice the pope ordered him back to his community. During one of Robert's absences, the brothers imprisoned Albéric so that they might have their way.
The stricter group left Molesme for Cîteaux. Initially, Robert was abbot of Cîteaux with Albéric serving as prior. However, the monks of Molesme petitioned Robert to return to them and vowed obedience to the Rule of St. Benedict. In 1100, Robert left Cîteaux and Albéric became the new abbot.
Albéric is credited with attaining the Cistercian Order's legal foundation. Pope Pascal II granted this legitimacy with his Bull Desiderium quod (around 1100). Albéric also decided to move the monastery's buildings a kilometer to the north and initiated construction on the first abbey church. The Church was consecrated less than six years later. Albéric also introduced the use of the while Cistercian cowl. It was given to him for the monks, according to legend, by the Virgin Mary as they were at choir praying vigils. Accordingly, the white cowl is one of Albéric's attributes in hagiographical paintings.
His feast day, together with the Robert and Stephen Harding, is celebrated on January 26. There is no alternate feast day outside the Roman Tradition.

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