Stephen Harding
Saint Stephen Harding (died 28 March 1134) is a Christian
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

A saint is a holy person. In various religions, saints are people who are believed to have exceptional holiness.In Christian usage, "saint" refers to any believer who is "in Christ", and in whom Christ dwells, whether in heaven or in earth...

 and abbot
The word abbot, meaning father, is a title given to the head of a monastery in various traditions, including Christianity. The office may also be given as an honorary title to a clergyman who is not actually the head of a monastery...

, one of the founders of the Cistercian Order.


Stephen Harding was born in Dorset
Dorset , is a county in South West England on the English Channel coast. The county town is Dorchester which is situated in the south. The Hampshire towns of Bournemouth and Christchurch joined the county with the reorganisation of local government in 1974...

, England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

. He was placed in Sherborne Abbey
Sherborne Abbey
The Abbey Church of St Mary the Virgin at Sherborne in the English county of Dorset, is usually called Sherborne Abbey. It has been a Saxon cathedral , a Benedictine abbey and is now a parish church.- Cathedral :...

 at a young age, but eventually put aside the cowl
This article is about the garment used by monks and nuns. For other uses, see Cowl or Cowling .The cowl is an item of clothing consisting of a long, hooded garment with wide sleeves. Originally it may have referred simply to the hooded portion of a cloak...

 and became a travelling scholar. He eventually moved to Molesme Abbey
Molesme Abbey
Molesme Abbey was a well-known Benedictine monastery in Molesme, in Laignes, Côte-d'Or, Burgundy, on the border of the Dioceses of Langres and Troyes.-History:...

 in Burgundy, under the abbot Saint Robert of Molesme
Robert of Molesme
Saint Robert of Molesme was a Christian saint and abbot, one of the founders of the Cistercian Order in France.-Life:Robert was a member of the nobility in Champagne, a younger son, who entered the abbey of Montier-la-Celle, near Troyes, at age fifteen and later rose to the status of prior...

 (c. 1027-1111).

When Robert left Molesme to avoid its corruption and laxity, Stephen and Saint Alberic of Cîteaux went with him. Unlike Alberic, Stephen was not ordered to return, and he remained in solitude with Robert. When twenty-one monks deserted Molesme to join Robert, Harding and Alberic, the three leaders formed a new monastery at Cîteaux.

Robert was initially abbot of Cîteaux Abbey
Cîteaux Abbey
Cîteaux Abbey is a Roman Catholic abbey located in Saint-Nicolas-lès-Cîteaux, south of Dijon, France. Today it belongs to the Trappists, or Cistercians of the Strict Observance . The Cistercian order takes its name from this mother house of Cîteaux, earlier Cisteaux, near Nuits-Saint-Georges...

, returning to Molesme after a year. Alberic then took over, serving as abbot until his death in 1108. Stephen Harding, the youngest of the three men, became the third abbot of Cîteaux. As abbot, Stephen Harding guided the new monastery over a period of great growth. Bernard of Clairvaux
Bernard of Clairvaux
Bernard of Clairvaux, O.Cist was a French abbot and the primary builder of the reforming Cistercian order.After the death of his mother, Bernard sought admission into the Cistercian order. Three years later, he was sent to found a new abbey at an isolated clearing in a glen known as the Val...

 came to visit in 1112 and brought with him his followers. Between 1112 and 1119, a dozen new Cistercian houses were founded to contain the monks coming to the new movement. In 1119, Stephen wrote the Carta Caritatis ("Charter of Charity"), an important document for the Cistercian Order, establishing its unifying principles.

Stephen served Cîteaux Abbey for twenty-five years. While no single person is considered the founder of the Cistercian Order, the shape of Cistercian belief and its rapid growth in the 12th century was due to the leadership of Stephen Harding. In 1133, he resigned as head of the order, because of age and infirmity. He died the following year.

His feast day in the Roman Catholic calendar of saints
Roman Catholic calendar of saints
The General Roman Calendar indicates the days of the year to which are assigned the liturgical celebrations of saints and of the mysteries of the Lord that are to be observed wherever the Roman Rite is used...

 is 17 April. The north aisle of the church of St Sepulchre-without-Newgate
St Sepulchre-without-Newgate
St Sepulchre-without-Newgate, also known as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre , is an Anglican church in the City of London. It is located on Holborn Viaduct, almost opposite the Old Bailey...

 in London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 was formerly a chapel dedicated to him (it became the Musicians' Chapel in the 20th century).

In Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

, in the village Apátistvánfalva
Apátistvánfalva is a village in Vas County, Hungary....

 there is a Catholic Baroque
The Baroque is a period and the style that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, literature, dance, and music...

 church, established by 1785, the patron saint
Patron saint
A patron saint is a saint who is regarded as the intercessor and advocate in heaven of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, clan, family, or person...

 of which is Stephen Harding. The village and the vicinity around Vendvidék was at one time under Cistercian lordship.

External links

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