|ST. GERARD, ABBOT OF BROGNE
|Born at Staves in the county of
Namur, towards the end of the ninth century; died at Brogne or St. Gerard, 3
Oct. 959. The son of Stance, of the family of dukes of Lower Austrasia, and of
Plectrude, sister of Stephen, Bishop of Liège, the young Gerard, like most omen
of his rank, followed at first the career of arms. His piety, however, was
admirable amid the distractions of camp. He transformed into a large church a
modest chapel situated on the estate of Brogne which belonged to his family.
About 917, the Count of Namur charged him with a mission to Robert, younger
brother of Eudes, King of France. He permitted his followers to reside at Paris,
but himself went to live at the Abbey of St. Denis, where he was so struck by
the deifying lives of the monks that, at the conclusion of his embassy, with the
consent of the Count of Namur and Bishop Stephen, his maternal uncle, he
returned to St. Denis, took the religious habit, and after eleven years was
ordained priest. He then requested to be allowed to return to Brogne, where he
replaced the lax clerics with monks animated by a true religious spirit.
Thereupon he himself retired to a cell near the monastery for more austere
mortification. From this retreat he was summoned by the Archbishop of Cambrai
who confided to him the direction of the community of St. Ghislain in Hainault.
Here also he established monks instead of the canons, whose conduct had ceased
to be exemplary, and he enforced the strictest monastic discipline. Gradually he
became superior of eighteen other abbeys situated in the region between the
Meuse, the Somme, and the sea, and through his efforts the Order of St. Benedict
was soon completely restored throughout this region. Weighed down by age and
infirmities, he placed vicars or abbots in his stead, in the various abbeys with
which he was charged, and retired to that of Brogne. He still had courage to
take a journey to Rome in order to obtain a Bull confirming the privileges of
that abbey. On his return he paid a final visit to all the communities which he
had reorganized, and then awaited death at Brogne. His body is still preserved
at Brogne, now commonly called St. Gerard.
From the Catholic Encyclopedia, copyright © 1913 by the Encyclopedia Press,
Inc. Electronic version copyright © 1996 by New Advent, Inc.
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