Lanternarius Press

Saint Robert of Knaresborough

SEPTEMBER 24 is the traditional memorial of ST. ROBERT OF KNARESBOROUGH (+c. 1218). Robert, along with St. Elizabeth of Hungary, is one of the most popular saints of the 12th and 13th centuries. Robert was born Robert Flower (or Floure or Fleur) to Robert (or Touk) Flower. Touk was mayor of York, implying a comfortable upbringing for Robert and his brother Walter.

Apparently Robert had always wanted to be a cleric. He joined the Cistercians for a little while, became a sub-deacon, then left, feeling that the order was too easy. He moved into the forest of Knaresborough and found a knight who was living in hiding from King Richard. They lived together, scrounging for food and a minimum of comfort in a cave. After a while, King Richard died and the knight decided he was safe to go home. Robert lived alone for a while until a matron offered him a place some miles away.

Robert, and, eventually, Ive, his companion, lived in several places. In one, the vandals and thieves destroyed or stole most of their goods. In another, it was destroyed by order of the sheriff, on the basis that he had no claim to the land. But, eventually, he settled back where he originally lived, for the last 15 years of his life. They also eventually had a small farm, thanks to his brother, who had become mayor of York.

But Robert, and, as successor, Ive, was most known for his spiritual advice, even to King John, and his ability to heal people of their physical complaints. Robert was also known for taking men from the prisons and trying to rehabilitate them. People came from miles around to speak with him. And the Trinitarians loved him.

The Trinitarians eventually took control of the little farm in Yorkshire. You can still see the floor of the chapel and the cave where he lived, not too far from the River Nidd in Knaresborough.

"My lord king, can you with all your power make such a thing as this out of nothing?"

St. Robert, while showing an ear of corn to the king

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