One of many saints of the nobility, St. Gerard was born in Staves, Belgium, in 895. He descended from a royal line of military men and at first felt a share in this call to arms. But following a visit to the Abbey of St. Denis in France, Gerard felt a calling to a different life. Drawn to the monastic discipline, he abandoned his noble birthright and all his worldly possessions. He spent eleven years in France as a disciplined monk before becoming a priest.
Following his ordination, he was given the charge of building and reforming the monasteries throughout Belgium. Gerard began his journey at his family’s estate, known as Brogne. It was here that he built his first monastery. He became known for his strict observance of the Rule of St. Benedict and for the replacement of lukewarm religious practice with true piety. He moved from abbey to abbey, at the summons of archbishops, bishops, and political leaders, “cleaning house” and preserving the Rule for future monastics. During his life, he was the abbot of nearly twenty communities.
After 40 years of monastic reform, Gerard returned to the first monastery in Brogne to live out his days. There, in solemn prayer and contemplation, he was drawn back to God on October 3, 959. He is sometimes called the Patron of Abbots.
Other Saints We Remember Today
St. Thérèse of Lisieux (1897). Virgin, Doctor, Patron of all foreign missions.