Grandmontines - Encyclopedia

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GRANDMONTINES, a religious order founded by St Stephen of Thiers in Auvergne towards the end of the 11th century. St Stephen was so impressed by the lives of the hermits whom he saw in Calabria that he desired to introduce the same manner of life into his native country. He was ordained, and in 1073 obtained the pope's permission to establish an order. He betook himself to Auvergne, and in the desert of Muret, near Limoges, he made himself a hut of branches of trees and lived there for some time in complete solitude. A few disciples gathered round him, and a community was formed. The rule was not reduced to writing until after Stephen's death, 1124. The life was eremitical and very severe in regard to silence, diet and bodily austerities; it was modelled after the rule of the Camaldolese, but various regulations were adopted from the Augustinian canons. The superior was called the "Corrector."' About 1150 the hermits, being compelled to leave Muret, settled in the neighbouring desert of Grandmont, whence the order derived its name. Louis VII. founded a house at Vincennes near Paris, and the order had a great vogue in France, as many as sixty houses being established by 1170, but it seems never to have found favour out of France; it had, however, a couple of cells in England up to the middle of the 15th century. The system of lay brothers was introduced on a large scale, and the management of the temporals was in great measure left in their hands; the arrangement did not work well, and the quarrels between the lay brothers and the choir monks were a constant source of weakness. Later centuries witnessed mitigations and reforms in the life, and at last the order came to an end just before the French Revolution. There were two or three convents of Grandmontine nuns. The order played no great part in history.

See Helyot, Hist. des ordres religieux (1714), vii. cc. 54, 55; Max Heimbucher, Orden and Kongregationen (1896), i. § 31; and the art. in Wetzer and Welte, Kirchenlexicon (ed. 2), and in Herzog, Realencyklopadie (ed. 3). (E. C. B.)

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