St. Robert was born at Gargrave, England, at the beginning of the 12th century. He studied at the University of Paris, was ordained a priest and served as a parish priest at Gargrave. Later he joined the Benedictines at Whitby and then the Cistercians at Fountains. In 1138, he founded the Abbey of Newminster at Morpeth, Northumberland, which became a place of pilgrimage.
As Abbot, Robert founded several new monasteries and also provided a fine example leading his monks to sanctity. He recited the entire Psalter of 150 psalms daily and he ate sparingly to maintain his self-denial. This holy man was also endowed with special power over evil spirits and he cured many possessed persons; he is sometimes pictured as holding the devil in chains and taming him with an upright crucifix.
Robert was a close friend of the simple hermit Godric and often visited him in his lonely hermitage at Finchale, where they would discourse about heavenly mysteries. At the moment of Robert’s death, on June 7, 1159, his friend saw his soul ascending to heaven like a ball of fire.
PRAYER: Lord, amid the things of this world, let us be wholeheartedly commited to heavenly things in imitation of the example of evangelical perfection You have given us in St. Robert the Abbot. Amen.