Thursday, February 6, 2014

St. Gilbert of Sempringham

The Clerk of Oxford posted on St. Gilbert of Sempringham on Tuesday, February 4, his feast day. St. Gilbert started the only distinctively English monastic order, which of course was destroyed by Henry VIII:

Gilbert of Sempringham, who died on 4 February 1189, is notable as the founder of the Gilbertine order, and the only Englishman to have founded a religious order in the Middle Ages. I wrote about him once before here, but today I thought I'd post some extracts from the account of his life which was written, shortly after his death, by a member of the community at Sempringham. All the quotations below are taken from The Book of St Gilbert, ed. Raymonde Foreville and Gillian Keir (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987), which contains the Life of Gilbert and the documents relating to his canonisation.

The Gilbertine account of his life begins:

The glory of righteousness arises and lights every man who comes into this world and wishes him to come to knowledge of His name; at its setting it has cast rays of new brilliance upon the western lands of the western world. When its radiance had been cast into our midst from on high, there shone in the darkness of our night like a heavenly star brought among us a man of exemplary life called Gilbert. Chosen to be God’s servant in the land of England, he was born in a place called Sempringham of a distinguished family (something that usually and properly acts as an encouragement to virtue); but by the special nature of his life this man overcame both the world and his worldly origin. His father was called Jocelin; he was a worthy knight as well as a virtuous and wealthy man: a Norman, who owned many properties scattered throughout Lincolnshire. But his mother was English by birth, of parents who were faithful folk but came from an inferior rank.

Read the rest here.

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