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.
Considered by some historians to be the founder of the Carmelite Order. He was born in Limoges, France, and proved a brilliant student at the University of Paris. Ordained a priest, Berthold joined ... continue readingMore Saint of the Day
With the lives of so many early martyrs shrouded in legend, we are fortunate to have the record of the courage of Perpetua and Felicity from the hand of Perpetua herself, her teacher Saturus, and others who knew them. This account, known as "The Martyrdom of ... 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. John Vianney, Priest (Patron of priests) Feast day - August 4 Universally known as the "Cure of Ars)," St. John Mary Vianney was ordained a priest in 1815. Three years later he was made ... continue reading
By Alex Basile
Every carpenter must practice patience. We can learn important lessons from the wood shop in Nazareth from the humble Saint Joseph. I have always been a "do it yourself" type of guy thanks to my father. My dad is always a steady presence during my home-improvement ... continue readingMore Christian Saints & Heroes