Gerard of Brogne, St.

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Abbot, monastic reformer; b. Stave, Namur, Belgium, c. 880; d. Brogne Abbey, Oct. 3, 959. His father, Santio, was of noble birth, and his mother, Plectrude, was a sister of Bp. Stephen of Liège. While in the service of Berengar, count of Lomme, Gerard rebuilt an old oratory that was in the freehold of Brogne on the edge of the forest of Marlagne. There he placed the relics of St. Eugene that he had received from Leutger, abbot of Deuil (Seineet-Oise, France) and from the monks of saintdenis. The translation took place on Aug. 18, 914, presided over by the Archdeacon Adelhelm, delegated by Bishop Stephen. By an act of June 2, 919, Gerard endowed this church, rededicated to SS. Peter and Eugene, with land and replaced its clerics with monks. In a charter of 923 Gerard himself appears as abbot of the new monastery; some sources say he had meanwhile made his novitiate at Saint-Denis. In 934, while his own rather small monastery was at peace and enjoying prosperity, Gerard was commissioned by Duke Gislebert of Lorraine to restore regular observance of the benedictine rule at the Abbey of Saint-Ghislain in Hainaut. Later, at the suggestion of Bishop Transmar of Noyon and Tournai, Arnulf I, Count of Flanders, entrusted Gerard with the reform of the monastery of Saint-Bavon of Ghent (partially rebuilt after 937) and then with Saint-Pierre on Mont-Blandin at Ghent (where Arnulf reserved to himself the confirmation of the abbot elected by the monks) as well as saint-bertin, saint-amand-les-eaux, and saint-remi in Reims. Soon Gerard's followers reformed saint-riquier and the great Norman Abbeys of fontenelle (saint-wandrille), mont-saint-michel, and saint-ouen in Rouen. In 953 Gerard resigned as abbot of Mont-Blandin and returned to brogne. His only concern had been to aid princes in restoring regular observance of the Rule in monastic communities; he had never thought of founding a new congregation. Gerard's reform ideas, derived from benedict of aniane, differed substantially from the cluniac reform ideal, of which he must have been ignorant. But he did, in any case, prepare the ground for the great gregorian reform. In 1131 Alexander of Juliers, bishop of Liège, delegated by Pope innocent ii, elevated the body of Gerard, a ceremony equivalent to canonization. Since the 17th century, Brogne has had the name of Saint-Gerard.

Feast: Oct. 3.

Bibliography: Vita (written 105070) Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Scriptores 15:655673. Translatio s. Eugenii (written c. 935) Analecta Bollandiana 3:2954; 5:385395. Acta Sanctorum Oct. 2 220320. u. berliÈre, "Étude sur la Vita Gerardi Broniensis," Revue Benedictine 9 (1892) 157172. f. baix, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques 10:818832. p. schmitz, Histoire de l'ordre de saint-Benoît, 7 v. (Maredsous, Bel. 194256) 1:150151. É. de moreau, Histoire de l'èglise en Belgique, v.2 (2d ed. Brussels 1945) 142154. a. butler, The Lives of the Saints (New York 1956) 4:1718. j. m. de smet, "Recherches critiques sur la Vita G. abbatis B.," Revue Benedictine 70 (1960) 561. j. wollasch, "G. von B. und seine Klostergründung," ibid 6282.

[j. daoust]