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St. Stephen of Muret

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Born 1045; died at Muret, 8 February, 1124, founder of the Abbey and Order of Grandmont. Serious chronological difficulties are presented by the traditional story of his early life, which runs as follows: Stephen in his twelfth year accompanied his father, the Viscount of Thiers, to Italy, where he was left to be educated by Milo, Archbishop of Benevento ; after passing twelve years in this prelate's household, he became the inmate of a Benedictine monastery in Calabria, but never received the habit. He then returned to France to bid farewell to his parents, having formed the design of entering religion, but, finding them dead, returned to Italy. His patron Milo having also died, he established himself at Rome, where he studied the rules of the religious houses of the city. After a four years' sojourn he obtained a Bull from Gregory VII authorizing him to found an institute resembling that of the solitaries he had frequented in Calabria, and returned to France. He is said to have settled at Muret in 1076. This story is impossible; his father visited Italy in order to make a pilgrimage to St. Nicholas at Bari ; but St. Nicholas'srelics were not placed there till some years later; Milo was not Archbishop of Benevento for twelve years. The exact truth as to St. Stephen's life cannot now be established. He went to Italy and there saw some religious whose holy life inspired him with a desire to imitate them, but who they were, Carthusians or Benedictines, we do not know. The quarrel as to what great order could claim Grandmont as its offspring, with the consequent forgeries, has done much to involve the founder's life in obscurity. Though Stephen was certainly the founder of the Order of Grandmont, he did little for his disciples except offer them the example of his holy life, and it was not till after his death that the order was firmly established. His head is preserved in the parish Church of St. Sylvestre, Canton of Laurière (Haute Vienne). He was canonized in 1189 and his feast occurs on 8 February. His works (not authentic ) may be found in Migne, P. L. CCIV, 997-1162.

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