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Herluin of Bec, Bl.


Founder and first abbot of Bec; b. Brionne, Normandy, c. 995; d. Aug. 26, 1078. At the age of 38 he left the court of Count Gilbert of Brionne, where he had been in service as a knight, and undertook the life of an ascetic and hermit nearby. He then gathered a community of his followers on his own property near Bonneville, and in 1035 Bp. Heribert of Lisieux received his monastic profession, ordained him, and named him first abbot of bec. Herluin's zeal attracted to the community two Italians, lanfranc and anselm of canterbury, both of whom served long terms as prior of Bec and whose learning and brilliant careers as archbishops of Canterbury rapidly overshadowed the reputation of the uneducated founder. Lanfranc, who introduced the usages of Bec to England and whom Herluin visited there in 1071, returned to Bec in 1077, just a few months before Herluin's death, to consecrate the abbey church. Three prayers, apparently from a festal Mass, suggest a cult of Herluin; however, his cult has never been formally recognized. When monks returned to Bec in 1948, Herluin's relics were restored to the abbey from the nearby parish church.

Feast: Aug. 26.

Bibliography: gilbert crispin, "Vita Herluini" in j. a. robinson, ed., Gilbert Crispin, Abbot of Westminster (Cambridge, England 1911). j. mabillon, Annales Ordinis S. Benedicti, 6 v. (Lucca 173945) v.4 passim. d. knowles, "Bec and its Great Men," Downside Review 52 (1934) 567585. m. p. dickson, "Introduction à l'édition critique du Coutumier du Bec," Spicilegium Beccense (Paris 1959) 1:599632.

[w. e. wilkie]

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