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The biography of St. Gilbert in St. Mary's Church, Old Malton.

St Gilbert of Sempringham
Saint Gilbert died 800 years ago. He was born at Sempringham in Lincolnshire, the son of a Norman Knight. He was small and disabled in some way and unable to follow in his father's footsteps he was sent to France to study to be a clerk. On his return he started a school for boys and girls. Later he went to Lincoln for nine years and was ordained Priest by Alexander, Bishop of Lincoln. On his return to Sempringham he became both the Parson and the Squire (as his father had recently died). Gilbert started his religious community with seven girls and later they were joined by some men. He went to France to ask Bernard of Citeaux if the Cistercians would take over his community. The General Chapter refused because of the women so Bernard drafted a new rule (or Order) for the Gilbertines, thus they became the only English Order in medieval times. Gilbert was to devote the rest of his life to this Order building thirteen monasteries (nine being joint ones for men and women). Gilbert also founded orphanages and leper hospitals. Gilbert died on 4th February circa 1189 and was buried between the altars of St Mary and St Andrew in the dividing wall of the monastery at Sempringham. Twelve years later King John visited Gilbert's tomb and one year later (after writing to the Pope to ask for Canonisation) Gilbert became known as Saint Gilbert of Sempringham. Today St Mary's Priory, Old Malton is the only Gilbertine Priory still in daily use for worship. Proudly our church continues in Gilbert's tradition of adoration and prayer.

Data transcribed by
Haydn Scott.
from photography by Colin Hinson

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