Priest and Founder of the Gilbertines (ca. 1085-1189/1190)
+ Gilbert was born in Sempringham in Lincolnshire, England. Rather than being trained as a knight, which was the custom for young men of his social rank, his father sent him to study theology at the University of Paris.
+ Returning to England in 1302, he became the clerk of the bishop of Lincoln and started a school for boys and girls and was eventually ordained a priest.
+ In 1130, following the death of his father, Gilbert founded a new religious order—commonly known as the “Gilbertines”—which quickly came to include twenty-six convents for enclosed nuns, monasteries for male religious, and missions.
+ One of the customs in Gilbertine houses was the “plate of the Lord Jesus,” in which the best portion of the days food was set aside on a special plate to be given to the poor.
+ Having lost his sight, Saint Gilbert resigned as superior of the order near the end of his life and died on February 4, 1189/1190. He was canonized in 1202.
+ The Gilbertine Order has the distinction of being the only religious order founded in England in the Middle Ages, but the order did not survive the unrest and repressive measures imposed on monastic communities by King Henry VIII and the ravages of the English Reformation.
For prayer and reflection
“The law of the Lord is his joy
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
planted near streams of water,
that yields its fruit in season;
its leaves never wither;
whatever he does prospers.”—Psalm 1:2-3
O God, who called blessed Gilbert to seek your Kingdom in this world through the pursuit of perfect charity, grant, we pray, through his intercession that we may advance with joyful spirit along the way of love. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal: Common of Holy Men and Women—For a Religious)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.