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Stephen Harding, St

Stephen Harding, St (d.1134). Third abbot of Cîteaux. A native and monk of Sherborne (Dorset), Stephen joined the abbey of Molesme near Dijon. Fervently ascetic, he helped Abbot Robert tighten Benedictine life there, but, facing opposition, they left for Cîteaux, a barren, marshy place, to follow the rule more rigorously. Stephen, the driving force, became third abbot (1109), but Cistercian austerity caused numbers to decline until Bernard's arrival (1111) with 30 followers retrieved the situation; the order revived and spread, Stephen himself founding thirteen other houses and appointing Bernard abbot of Clairvaux. He wrote Carta caritatis (1119), which was Cistercianism's foundation document, and with its centralized structure, its annual visitation, and general chapters became a model for all future religious foundations. Stephen's administrative ability complementing Bernard's emotional appeal made Cistercianism spread rapidly—over 100 Cistercian houses were founded in his lifetime, the first in England at Waverley, Surrey (1128).

Revd Dr William M. Marshall

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"Stephen Harding, St." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Stephen Harding, Saint

Saint Stephen Harding, c.1060–1134, English monastic reformer. He entered the abbey at Sherborne in his youth; later (c.1077) he went to the Molesme abbey (near Châtillon-sur-Seine) in Burgundy. In 1098 he joined his abbot, St. Robert (d. 1111), in founding at Cîteaux a new abbey, where the Rule of St. Benedict might be observed in primitive rigor. Stephen was abbot there from c.1109 and from his abbacy date the Cistercians; the spirit and organization of that order reflect St. Stephen's ideas. These are embodied in the Chart of Charity (c.1119); this, the main Cistercian constitutional paper, is a landmark in the course of Western monasticism. He supported with paternal affection the work of St. Bernard of Clairvaux. Feast: Apr. 17; among Cistercians, July 16.

See C. H. Lawrence, Medieval Monasticism (1984).

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"Stephen Harding, Saint." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Stephen Harding, Saint." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/stephen-harding-saint

"Stephen Harding, Saint." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/stephen-harding-saint