Stephen Harding was born in Dorset, England. He was a speaker of English, Norman French, and Latin. He was placed in the abbey of Sherbourne at a young age, but eventually put aside the cowl and became a travelling scholar. He eventually moved to the abbey of Molesme in Burgundy, under the abbot Saint Robert of Molesme (c. 1027 – 1111).
When Robert left Molesme to avoid its corruption and laxity, Stephen and Saint Alberic went with him. Unlike Alberic, Stephen was not ordered to return, and he remained in solitude with Robert. When twenty-one monks deserted Molesme to join Robert, Harding, and Alberic, the three leaders formed a new monastery at Citeaux.
Robert was initially abbot at Citeaux, returning to Molesme after a year. Alberic then took over, serving as abbot until his death in 1108. Stephen Harding, the youngest of the three men, became the third abbot of Citeaux. As abbot, Stephen Harding guided the new monastery over a period of great growth. Bernard of Clairvaux came to visit in 1112 and brought with him his followers. Between 1112 and 1119, a dozen new Cistercian houses were founded to contain the monks coming to the new movement. In 1119, Stephen wrote the Carta Caritatis, ('Charter of Love') an important document for the Cistercian Order, establishing its unifying principles.
Stephen served the house at Citeaux for twenty-five years. While no single person is considered the founder of the Cistercian Order, the shape of Cistercian belief and its rapid growth in the 12th century was due to the leadership of Stephen Harding. In 1133, he resigned the head of the order, due to age and disability. He died the following year.
His feast day in the Roman Catholic calendar of saints is March 28. The north aisle of St Sepulchre-without-Newgate church in London, U.K. was formerly a chapel dedicated to him (it became the Musicians' Chapel in the 20th century).
In Hungary, in the village Apátistvánfalva there is a Catholic Baroque Church estd. by 1785, the patron saint of which is Stephen Harding. The village, and the vicinity Vendvidékwas at one time under Cistercian lordship.
Anicetus was a Syrian from Emesa. He became pope about 155 and actively opposed Marcionism and Gnosticism. His pontificate saw the appearance of the controversy between East and West over the date of ... continue readingMore Saint of the Day
Less than twenty years before Teresa was born in 1515, Columbus opened up the Western Hemisphere to European colonization. Two years after she was born, Luther started the Protestant Reformation. Out of all of this change came Teresa pointing the way from outer turmoil ... continue readingMore Female Saints
St. Michael the Archangel - Feast day - September 29th The name Michael signifies "Who is like to God?" and was the warcry of the good angels in the battle fought in heaven against satan and his followers. Holy Scripture describes St. Michael as "one of the chief ... continue reading
The name Gabriel means "man of God," or "God has shown himself mighty." It appears first in the prophesies of Daniel in the Old Testament. The angel announced to Daniel the prophecy of the seventy weeks. His name also occurs in the apocryphal book of Henoch. He was the ... continue reading
St. Romuald was born at Ravenna about the year 956. In spite of an infinite desire for virtue and sanctity, his early life was wasted in the service of the world and its pleasures. Then one day, ... continue reading
By Justin Soutar
During his visit to the United States this coming September, Pope Francis will canonize Blessed Junipero Serra, the heroic 'Apostle of California.' Once that happens, the Golden State will have its own patron saint and the Church will have another great missionary role ... continue readingMore Christian Saints & Heroes