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About St Gilbert of Sempringham

Gilbert was born at Sempringham, near Bourne in Lincolnshire, the son of Jocelin, an Anglo-Norman lord of the manor, who unusually for that period, actively prevented his son from becoming a knight, instead sending him to the University of Paris to study theology. Some physical deformity may have made him unfit for military service, making an ecclesiastical career the best option. When he returned in 1120 he became a clerk in the household of Robert Bloet, Bishop of Lincoln, started a school for boys and girls and was finally ordained by Robert's successor, Alexander.

When Gilbert's father died in 1130 he became lord of the manor of Sempringham, and immediately began using his inherited wealth to fund expansion of the Gilbertines, his new order. Eventually he had a chain of twenty-six convents, monasteries and missions; in 1148 he approached the Cistercians for help. They refused because he included women in his order.

Gilbert was imprisoned in 1165 on a charge of aiding Thomas Becket when Thomas had fled from King Henry II after the council of Northampton, but he was eventually found innocent. Then, when he was 90, some of his lay brothers revolted, but he received the backing of Pope Alexander III. Gilbert resigned his office late in life because of blindness and died at Sempringham in about 1190, at the age of 106.

Please click here to visit the St Gilbert of Sempringham Catholic Academy Trust website.