Memorial of St. Gilbert of Neuffontaines, O. Praem.
(b. unknown, † June 5, 1152)
- Monasteries = Founder of Neuffontaines Abbey
- Banner = Crusader’s flag
- Helmet, sword, and shield = Knight
The knight Gilbert belonged to the nobility of Auvergne in France. Following the advice of the Norbertine abbot of Dilo, he participated in the Second Crusade (1147-1149), which was preached by St. Bernard of Clairvaux at Vezelay and led by the French king Louis VII. This crusade ended in military disaster.
Having survived this dangerous endeavor, Gilbert decided, together with his wife Petronilla and his daughter Ponzia, to dedicate himself to God and enter monastic life. He distributed his considerable wealth to the poor and founded a convent, which his wife and daughter entered.
At first Gilbert lived as a hermit. Then, after completing his novitiate in the Norbertine abbey of Dilo, he founded the abbey of Neuffontaines around 1150 and became its first abbot. He also built a hospital attached to the abbey, which became famous because of the many miracles that occurred there. Penitent and filled with compassion, he cared for a great number of sick and sinful people, whom he wished to heal both spiritually and physically. Many children with severe sicknesses were brought to him. He laid his hands on them and gave them back to their parents healed. This gave rise to the later custom of parents bringing their sick children to Neuffontaines seeking St. Gilbert’s intercession for healing.
Gilbert died on June 5, 1152, worn out by penance and hard work. He had expressed his desire to be buried in the cemetery of the poor. However, because of the many miracles that God worked through his intercession, his earthly remains were eventually transferred to the abbey church of Neuffontaines, and after being lost for a time were later rediscovered in October of 1615. The relics were transferred for greater safety in 1791, and again lost during the tumult of the French Revolution. St. Gilbert’s feast day falls on the anniversary of his translation. Pope Benedict XIII confirmed the veneration of St. Gilbert on January 22, 1728.
Date(s) - Monday October 26, 2020