Saint of the Day – 17 April – St Robert de Chaise-Dieu OSB (c1000-1067)

Saint of the Day – 17 April – St Robert de Chaise-Dieu OSB (c1000-1067) Priest, professed religious of the Order of St Benedict, Monk, Abbot, Apostle of Charity, Marian devotee.   He was of noble stock, was related to Saint Gerald of Aurillac (c 855–c 909) and was a descendant of St Caesarius of Arles (470-543).   He is best known for the establishment of the Benedictine Convent of La Chaise-Dieu (‘Home of God’) and for his total commitment to the poor.   He became a spiritual inspiration for Pope Clement VI (1291–1352) – whose own origin,s in the religious life ,were based at that Convent – and it was Pope Clement who confirmed the Canonisation of the Benedictine Abbot on 19 September 1351 in Avignon.   He is also known as Robert de Turlande, Robert of Casa Dei. Patronages – Abbots, Monks, Hermits, the Monastery of robert of chaise-dieu art

St Robert was born in 1000 to a family of Margeride nobility and became the Canon Count of Brioude.   His mother went into labour while in the forests near the castle she lived in and so gave birth to him there, locals perceived this as a sign that the child would become a hermit.

Robert’s education was overseen at the Church of Saint-Julien in Brioude where he later became its canon after he was ordained to the priesthood in 1026 – it was there that he founded a hospice for the poor of the region.   He later became a monk at Cluny and placed himself under the direction of Saint Odilo, (c 962–1049), the fifth Abbot of Cluny, also a a relative of St Robert.

Dissatisfied with canonical life and his relative, St Odilo, Robert wished to found a monastery.   After a pilgrimage to Rome, Robert went with two of his companions to Monte Cassino for further training in the Rule of St Benedict.

When he returned to France, upon reaching the bleak Livradois plateau he settled next to a chapel dedicated to Saint Vital and Saint Agricole to live in solitude with God.   He named this place ‘Casa Dei’ ‘House of God’, which later became known as La Chaise-Dieu.

In 1046 he and two of his companions received the permission of Pope Gregory VI to establish a hermitage and embark on a life of commitment to the poor.   It was Gregory VI who suggested that the trio consider the contemplative life as a greater method of achieving their aim of providing for the poor, this prompted him to move to Auvergne. He has been credited for the construction and the restoration of around a total of 50 churches in his robert engraving of chaise-dieu

Robert’s influence was such that at the time of his death in 1067, the Abbey and its dependent priories numbered some 300 monks.  He inspired others through his faith, he placed great emphasis on the cult of Mary and his charity through which he made the Abbey a welcoming and giving place – which became its enduring symbol and undoubtedly, his dynamism (as early as 1052 he had gained the protection of the King of France, Henry I and also that of Pope Leon IX).

st robert statue in chaise-dieu Church
Statue and shrine of St Robert at the Church of St Robert in the village names for him.

Robert died on 17 April 1067 and his funeral was set on 24 April due to the large numbers of people who desired visiting his remains.   Hundreds of miracles were reported to have been performed due to his intercession which started a local ‘cultus’ to him.   He was interred in his own convent, though most of his relics were burnt due to the Huguenots.   He was Canonised in 1070 and his tomb became a place of pilgrimage. So much so, that in 1095 before beginning his first Crusade from Clermont, Urban Pope II insisted on praying at Robert’s Tomb.header st robert of chaise-dieu.jpeg

There is a beautiful village called Saint Robert after our Saint.   It is rich in history and heritage and ranks among the most beautiful villages in France.   It is organised around its Romanesque church of the twelfth century (also named after St Robert and probably built by his Monks) and its narrow streets are lined with old shops and manor houses in stone.     To see wonderful images of this village, visit here:


Saint of the Day – 11 July – St Benedict of Nursia OSB (c 480-547) Patron of Europe and Founder of Western Monasticism

Saint of the Day – 11 July – St Benedict of Nursia OSB (c 480-547) Patron of Europe and Founder of Western Monasticism.   Some of his many Patronages – of Europe, Against Poison, Against Witchcraft, Agriculture, Cavers, Civil Engineers, Coppersmiths, Dying People, Farmers, Fevers, Inflammatory Diseases, Kidney Disease, Monks, Religious Orders, Schoolchildren, Temptations.BenedictinosSaint_Bendict_of_Nurcia

St Benedict founded twelve communities for monks about 40 miles east of Rome, before moving to Monte Cassino, in the mountains of southern Italy.   St Benedict’s main achievement is his “Rule”, containing precepts for his monks.    The unique spirit of balance, moderation and reasonableness influences it and this persuaded most religious communities founded throughout Middle Ages, to adopt it.    As a result, the Rule of St Benedict became one of the most influential religious rules in western Christendom.    For this reason, Benedict is often called the “founder” of western Christian Monasticism. Heiligenkreuz.St._Benedict

St Benedict is the twin brother of St Scholastica and is considered patron of many things.    He was born in Nursia, Italy and educated in Rome.Scholastica-and-Benedictmy snip - benedict and scholastica - domenico corvi 1721-1803

benedict and schalastica
St Benedict and hisd twin sister, St Scholastica

He was repelled by the vices of the city and around 500, fled to Enfide – thirty miles away.    He decided to live the life of a hermit and lived in a cave for three years.    Despite Benedict’s desire for solitude, his holiness became known and he was asked to be the Abbot by a community of monks at Vicovaro.    He accepted but when the monks resisted his strict rule and tried to poison him, he returned to Subiaco and became a centre of spirituality and learning. champaigne_philippe_dezzzscene_from_the_life_of_st_benedict-_the_poisoned_cup_of_wine

st benedict and the cup of poison
St Benedict and the Cup of Poison

He eventually moved back to Monte Cassino and destroyed a temple to Apollo on its crest and brought the people of the neighbouring area back to Christianity.    In 530 he began to build the monastery that was to be the birthplace of western monasticism.  data=dfJwSHpr2UU2dqoWYuGhCM6f93gIUaI8nJa4qy1CkuUIECsLTKt97nBY-VhQhXiVd_QY-L05N6sf2u3rW46w2dOiTQnblInFmXtgNjvDhRy3fFbi1V8nbtijMOtdHPafZzrH1YTVpMw1z2hkH7TuHn4S98gGrYdfEAmGGjSfyVFG-Zr-PNRk8

Monte Cassino in ruins after Allied bombing in February 1944.
Rebuilt Abbey

Soon, disciples again flocked to him as his reputation for holiness, wisdom and miracles spread far and wide.    It wasn’t long and he organised his monks into a single monastic community and wrote his official Rule, prescribing common sense, a life of moderate asceticism, prayer, study, work and community under one superior.    It stressed obedience, stability, zeal and had the Divine Office as the centre of monastic life.    While ruling his monks, most of whom – including Benedict, were not ordained, he counselled rulers and Popes and ministered to the poor and destitute.    He died at Monte Cassino on 21 March 547 and was named patron protector of Europe by Pope Paul VI in 1964.    The Universal Church celebrates his feast day today. San_Benedetto_da_Norcia_ABst benedict and monks

The St Benedict medal is very popular among Christians to this day and are hung above doors and windows, for protection against evil.    It is believed that evil cannot enter your house if you protect every opening with a St Benedict medal and Crucifix.    The medal has an image of St Benedict, holding the Holy Rule in his left hand and a cross in his right.    There is a raven on one side of him, with a cup on the other side.    Around the medal’s outer margin are the words “Eius in obitu nostro praesentia muniamur” – “May we, at our death, be fortified by His presence”.   The other side of the medal has a cross with the initials CSSML on the vertical bar which signify “Crux Sacra Sit Mihi Lux” “May the Holy Cross be my light” and on the horizontal bar are the initials NDSMD which stand for “Non Draco Sit Mihi Dux” “Let not the dragon be my overlord”.   The initials CSPB stand for “Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti” “The Cross of the Holy Father Benedict” and are located on the interior angles of the cross.   Either the inscription “PAX” Peace or the Christogram “HIS” may be found at the top of the cross in most cases.   Around the medal’s margin on this side are the initials VRSNSMV which stand for “Vade Retro Satana, Nonquam Suade Mihi Vana” ”Begone Satan, do not suggest to me thy vanities” then a space followed by the initials SMQLIVB which signify “Sunt Mala Quae Libas, Ipse Venena Bibas” “Evil are the things thou profferest, drink thou thy own poison”.st benedict medalst benedict medal 2st benedict crucifix and medal

The Medal of St Benedict can serve as a constant reminder of the need for us to take up our cross daily and “follow the true King, Christ our Lord,” and thus learn “to share in his heavenly kingdom,” as St. Benedict urges us in the Prologue of his Rule.

More on St Benedict, his Rule and the Medal here: