Stephen of Obazine
Saint Stephen of Obazine also known as Stephen of Vielzot (French: Étienne de Vielzot, Étienne d'Obazine; 1085 – 1154) was a French priest and hermit, famed for his pious nature, even from a young age.
Saint Stephen of Obazine
|Died||8 March 1154|
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church|
|Canonized||1701 by Pope Clement XI|
Stephen was born in Vielzot, otherwise Vieljo, a village in Bassignac-le-Haut. He began his religious life in a commnunity of clerics at Pleaux, where he became a priest and gained the reputation of holiness, especially when it came to the recitation of the divine office, only interrupting these if something of grave necessity arose. He was also known for his love for all things to do with the Mass, ensuring the provision of sacred vessels, furnishings and vestments that were perfect for God. Wanting a more austere life, Stephen and a like-minded priest, by the name of Peter, set out at the beginning of Lent one year to locate a place where they could live as hermits. On Good Friday they discovered a forest in the region of Obazine. The two priests remained there fasting until Easter Sunday, after which they found a nearby church to celebrate Mass. There is a well-known story of this time: heading back to their hermitage, the two friends paused to rest on the mountain, exhausted and weak from hunger. A peasant woman offered them half a loaf of bread to eat and a vessel of milk to drink. Stephen would later say that this simple meal was the most delightful he had ever tasted.
Founding of Obazine AbbeyEdit
In 1134, the Bishop of Limoges approved the establishment of the hermitage as a monastery, known from then on as Obazine Abbey, even though at the time it comprised mainly many small huts in the forest. Nearby at Coyroux they founded a nunnery for 150 nuns along similar lines. As there was no written Rule for the community, in 1142 Stephen joined the Cistercians, and the monks and nuns in the forest followed suit. He affiliated his house with the Cistercians in 1147, and served as the first abbot.
- Gert Melville, "Stephan von Obazine: Begründung und Überwindung charismatischer Führung," in Giancarlo Andenna / Mirko Breitenstein / Gert Melville (eds.), Charisma und religiöse Gemeinschaften im Mittelalter. Akten des 3. Internationalen Kongresses des "Italienisch-deutschen Zentrums für Vergleichende Ordensgeschichte" (Münster / Hamburg / Berlin / London: LIT 2005) (Vita regularis. Ordnungen und Deutungen religiosen Lebens im Mittelalter, 26), 85–101.