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St. Stephen Harding

Saint Stephen Harding

Abbot & Confessor

Stephen was born to a noble family in Dorsetshire, England, in the mid-eleventh century. He studied at nearby Sherborne Abbey, then in Paris and Rome. After completing his education, Stephen returned to France, and joined the new abbey of Molesme because of the holiness of St. Robert, the abbot and founder. The monastery had begun by strictly observing holy poverty, but the generosity of the local faithful eventually spoiled many of the monks. Attempts at reform failed, and with their archbishop’s permission Stephen, Robert, St. Alberic, and a few other fervent brothers left to begin the Order of Cistercians at Cîteaux, near Dijon. After Robert returned to the repentant monks of Molesme, Stephen eventually succeeded Alberic as abbot of Cîteaux. The monastery struggled to attract new members until the arrival of St. Bernard of Clairvaux and thirty companions, which ignited the growth of the Cistercians. Stephen died at Cîteaux in the year of Our Lord 1134. He is honored on March 28th in the modern calendar, and on January 26th by the Cistercians, with co-founders Robert and Alberic.


Traditional Roman Martyrology for April 17th

AT Rome, St. Anicetus, pope and martyr, who obtained the palm of martyrdom in the persecution of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus.

In Africa, the birthday of blessed Mappalicus, and many others who were crowned with martyrdom, as is related by St. Cyprian in his epistle to the Martyrs and Confessors.

In the same country, the holy martyrs Fortunatus and Marcian.

At Antioch, the holy martyrs Peter, a deacon, and Hermogenes, his servant.

At Cordova, the holy martyrs Elias, a priest, Paul and Isidore, monks.

At Vienne, St. Pantagathus, bishop.

At Tortona, St. Innocent, bishop and confessor.

At Citeaux, in France, the abbot St. Stephen, who was the first to live in the desert of Citeaux, and who joyfully welcomed St. Bernard and his companions when they came thither.

In the monastery of Chaise-Dieu, in the diocese of Clermont, St. Robert, confessor, founder and first abbot of that monastery.

℣. And elsewhere many other holy martyrs, confessors, and holy virgins.

℟. Thanks be to God.

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