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Stephen Harding

d.1134. Abbot of Cîteaux. Harding was born at Sherborne, Dorset, and as a young man traveled widely, visiting Scotland, Paris, and Rome. He joined the community at Molême in Burgundy where he failed to secure acceptance of the Rule of St. Benedict. Departing in 1098 with twenty others, including the abbot and the prior, he established a strict and austere religious house at Cîteaux, a very desolate spot. Here he was successively subprior, prior, and third abbot. The community flourished, and another thirteen houses of this new Cistercian* Order were founded largely by Stephen himself. He drew up the rule, instituted a general chapter, and introduced the famous white habit for his communities, obtained papal support and a large measure of freedom from episcopal control, and must along with Abbot Robert and Alberic the Prior be regarded as the founder of the Cistercian Order.