Alberic of Cîteaux
|St. Alberic of Cîteaux, O.Cist.|
The Virgin Mary, patroness of the Order, gives Alberic the white Cistercian cowl
|Monk and priest, co-founder of the Cistercian Order|
|Died||26 January 1109
Abbey of Cîteaux, Duchy of Burgundy
Alberic was a hermit in the forest of Collan in France who, along with five other hermits, invited Abbot 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 Alberic 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 Molesme community was divided, and the monks opposed Robert and Alberic. 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 Alberic so that they might have their way.
The stricter group left Molesme for Cîteaux. Initially, Robert was Abbot of Cîteaux with Alberic 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 Alberic became the new abbot.
Alberic 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. Alberic also introduced the use of the white 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 Alberic's attributes in hagiographical paintings.
Alberic's feast day, together with that of Robert of Molesme and Stephen Harding, is celebrated on January 26. There is no alternate feast day outside the Roman Tradition.
- Attwater, Donald and John, Catherine Rachel John, 1993:The Penguin Dictionary of Saints. 3rd edition. New York: Penguin Books ISBN 0-14-051312-4
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