Arbrissel or Arbrisselles, Robert D

Arbrissel or Arbrisselles, Robert D'

the founder of the order of Fontevrault, was born in 1047 at Arbrissel or Arbreses, a village in the diocese of Rennes, and died Feb. 25, 1117. In 1085 he was appointed vicar-general of the bishop of Rennes, in which diocese he labored successfully for the restoration of church discipline. In 1089 he became professor of theology at Angers; but after two years he retired to the forest of Craon, on the frontier of Anjou and Bretagne. There soon a number of hermits gathered around him, and Robert founded the first establishment of the order of Fontevrault, the celebrated abbey DE ROTA. Robert himself was appointed its first prior at the Council of Tours in 1096, where he preached the same year. The number of the followers of Robert rapidly increased, and he established several monasteries; the most important was the celebrated abbey of Fontevrault, near Poitiers, after which the entire order was named. The abbey consisted of two different monasteries, one for men and one for women, which together counted soon more than 2000 inmates. According to the letters of Marbod, bishop of Rennes (cited by P. de la Mainferme, Clipeus, t. i, p. 69), and Geoffroy, abbot of Vendome (Recueil des Lettres de l'Abbe Geqofroy, publiees par le P. Sirmond in 1610), Robert, to crucify his flesh, had recourse to the most immoral kind of mortification; he used, for instance, to sleep in the cells of the nuns. These facts, denied or excused by some, and affirmed or censured by others, were the subject of the most lively controversy among the Roman Catholic theologians of France in the 17th and 18th centuries. A monk of Fontevrault, P. de la Mainferme, wrote a large work, entitled Clipeus nascentis ordinis Fontebraldensis, in defense of the founder of the order. Robert, in 1104, was present at the Councils of Beaugency and Paris, at the latter of which he prevailed upon Bertrade to separate from King Philip. He died in the monastery of Orsan. His remains were, in 1633, placed in a magnificent marble tomb, made by order of Louise of Bourbon, abbess of Fontevrault. — Mainferme, Dis. sertationes in Epistolam contra Robertum de Arbrisello (Saumur, 1682); Hoefer, Nouv. Biographie Generale, 3, 23.

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