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St. Robert

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Founder of the Abbey of Chaise-Dieu in Auvergne, b. at Aurilac, Auvergne, about 1000; d. in Auvergne, 1067. On his father's side he belonged to the family of the Counts of Aurilac, who had given birth to St. Géraud. He studied at Brioude near the basilica of St-Julien, in a school open to the nobility of Auvergne by the canons of that city. Having entered their community, and being ordained priest, Robert distinguished himself by his piety, charity, apostolic zeal, eloquent discourses, and the gift of miracles. For about forty years he remained at Cluny in order to live under the rule of his compatriot saint, Abbé Odilo. Brought back by force to Brioude, he started anew for Rome in order to consult the pope on his project. Benedict IX encouraged him to retire with two companions to the wooded plateau south-east of Auvergne. Here he built a hermitage under the name of Chaise-Dieu (Casa Dei). The renown of his virtues having brought him numerous disciples, he was obliged to build a monastery, which he placed under the rule of Saint Benedict (1050). Leo IX erected the Abbey of Chaise-Dieu, which became one of the most flourishing in Christendom. At the death of Robert it numbered 300 monks and had sent multitudes all though the centre of France. Robert also founded a community of women at Lavadieu near Brioude. Through the elevation of Pierre Roger, monk of Chaise-Dieu, to the sovereign pontificate, under the name of Clement VI , the abbey reached the height of its glory. The body of Saint Robert, preserved therein, was burned by the Huguenots during the religious wars. His work was destroyed by the French Revolution, but there remain for the admiration of tourists, the vast church, cloister, tomb of Clement VI , and Clementine Tower. The feast-day of St. Robert is 24 April.

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