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Alberic

(d. 1109)


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(d. 1109),

abbot of Cîteaux. Nothing is known of his early life, but he became a hermit at Collan (near Chatillon-sur-Seine). With his companions he invited Robert to rule them, and in 1075 they moved to Molesme with Robert as abbot and Alberic as prior. The community grew in numbers, but some of its members were unsuitable; friction developed and there was even a rebellion. After an attempt at peacemaking the former troubles returned; Robert, Alberic, and the Englishman Stephen Harding with their followers made a fresh start at Cîteaux (near Dijon), in 1098.

From these unpromising beginnings developed the Cistercian Order. Robert went back to Molesme, so Alberic became abbot in 1099. It is almost impossible to allocate responsibility between Robert, Alberic, and Stephen for the constitutional innovations, the extended use of lay brothers and the almost puritan attitude to the Rule of St Benedict and to customary monastic tradition as well as to Romanesque art-forms which characterized the early Cistercians. Each of them took an important part in the development of the Cistercian ideal until Bernard of Clairvaux became their most important member. In his panegyric of Alberic, his successor, Stephen Harding called him ‘a father, a friend, a fellow-soldier and a principal warrior in the Lord's battles…who carried us all in his heart with affectionate love’. Alberic died on 26 January, which became his feast.

AA.SS. Ian. III (1863), 368–73;J. B. Dalgairns, Life of St Stephen Harding (1898);M.O., pp. 197–226, 752–3;B.L.S., i. 181–4. See also J. R. Lefèvre, ‘Le vrai récit primitif des origines de Cîteaux est-il l'Exordium Parvum?’, Le Moyen Âge, lxi (1955), 79–120 and 329–62.

Subjects: Christianity.


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