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June 7


Saint of the day:
Saint Robert of Newminster


Patron Saint of Morpeth (UK)

Saint Robert of Newminster's Story

Robert Of Newminster, Saint, Abbot, (Benedictine) Cistercians (1100-1159) A priest from North Yorkshire who took the Benedictine habit at Whitby and obtained permission to join some monks of York who were attempting to live according to a new interpretation of the Benedictine rule at Fountains abbey (1132). Fountains soon became Cistercian and one of the centres of the White Monks in N. England. Newminster abbey in Northumberland was founded from it in 1137, and Robert became its first abbot. He is described as gentle and merciful in judgement. His feast day is June 7.

Robert of Newminster ( c. 1100–1159) was a priest, abbot, and a saint of the Catholic Church. He was born in Gargrave in Yorkshire, England. He was one of the monks who founded Fountains Abbey and is named from the abbey he founded in Morpeth, Northumberland.

Early life

Robert was born in what is now the district of Craven, near Skipton in North Yorkshire, probably in the village of Gargrave. He studied at the University of Paris, where he is said to have composed a commentary - since lost - on the Psalms. He became a parish priest, returning to serve Gargrave where he was made rector. He became a Benedictine joining the monks of Saint Mary's Abbey in York. A group of monks, including Robert were expelled from York and established a monastery in a valley near Skeldale, on land given them by Archbishop Thurstan in winter 1132. The first two years were difficult and the monks struggled in extreme poverty. Initially they lived in a makeshift structure on the banks of the River Skell. Despite the hardships, the monks were known for their holiness, austerity and dedication to the strict Benedictine way of life. Their fame brought a new novice, Hugh, Dean of York, who relinquished all his wealth to the community who built more suitable facilities. Because of the many natural springs in the area, the monastery was called Fountains Abbey. Fountains became affiliated with the Cistercian reform which had been introduced by Bernard of Clairvaux.

Cistercian and abbot

Robert was described as a devout, prayerful, and gentle man. He is known for being merciful in his judgment of others and a warm and considerate companion. He was zealous regarding his own vows of poverty. About 1138 he headed a group of monks sent out from Fountains to establish Newminster Abbey near the castle of Ralph de Merlay and his wife, Juliana, daughter of Gospatric II, Earl of Lothian, west of Morpeth in Northumberland. Abbot Robert was said to be was favoured with the gift of prophecy and miracles. During his abbacy three colonies of monks were sent to found new monasteries at Pipewell in Northamptonshire (1143), Roche in South Yorkshire (1147), and Sawley in Lancashire (1148).

Capgrave's life tells that an accusation of misconduct was brought against him by his own monks. Robert was said to have had an interest towards a woman in the village. He went to defend himself before Bernard of Clairvaux in 1147–1148. Bernard did not doubt Robert's innocence as he had received a heavenly sign of his virtuous conduct. Doubt has been cast upon the truth of the story, which may have arisen from a desire to associate him personally with the greatest of the Cistercians.

Robert ruled and directed the monks at Newminster for 21 years. The small monastery of only 17 monks was one of the first to be dissolved in 1535 by Henry VIII, and the site has been privately owned since.


In one instance, a monk is said to have fallen unhurt from a ladder while working on one of the buildings. His tomb has become a centre for pilgrimage. Robert was a close spiritual friend of the hermit Godric of Finchale. On the night Robert died, Godric is said to have seen a vision of Robert's soul, like a ball of fire, being lifted by angels on a pathway of light toward the gates of heaven. As they approached, Godric heard a voice saying, "Enter now my friends."

Robert is often depicted in church art as an abbot holding a church.


Robert's tomb in the church of Newminster became an object of pilgrimage. His feast day is celebrated on 7 June, the day of his death.





Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire, UK


Cistercian Abbey, North Yorkshire, UK



Spring lamb rack with caper and herb crust and rhubarb compote


  • 1 tbs olive oil, plus extra to drizzle

  • 2 French-trimmed 8-cutlet lamb racks

  • 8 eschalots, halved

  • Rhubarb compote, to serve

Caper and Herb Crust

  • 2 tbs salted capers, rinsed, drained

  • 4 rosemary sprigs, leaves picked

  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves

  • 1/2 cup mint leaves

  • 8 garlic cloves

  • 2 tbs olive oil

  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

  • 2/3 cup (100g) chopped pistachio


  1. For the crust, place the capers, herbs, garlic, oil, lemon zest and juice and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper in a food processor and blend for 1 minute or until very finely chopped. Add the pistachio and process until just combined. Set aside.

  2. Heat the oil in a frypan over medium heat. Season lamb, then in 2 batches, cook, turning, for 1 minute each side or until browned. Rest for 15 minutes, then press crust onto each lamb rack.

  3. Preheat the oven to 200°C.

  4. Place eschalot on a baking tray, drizzle with oil and place the lamb on top. Roast for 35 minutes for medium-rare or until cooked to your liking. Rest for 10 minutes.

  5. Carve the lamb and serve with the roasted eschalot and rhubarb compote.

Rhubarb & Orange Compote


  • 200g rhubarb, stalks trimmed, cut into 3cm pieces

  • 1/2 cup (110g) caster sugar, plus 2 tablespoons

  • Pared rind and juice of 2 navel oranges, plus 1 orange, segmented

  • 250g punnet strawberries, hulled, sliced


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Place rhubarb in a baking dish, toss with
    1 tablespoon sugar and half the orange juice. Bake, covered, for 15 minutes,
    then uncovered for 5 minutes until tender.Pause

How to prepare citrus fruit

  1. Meanwhile, slice orange rind into thin strips. Place 1/2 cup (110g) sugar and
    1 cup (250ml) water in a pan over high heat, stir to dissolve, then bring to boil.
    Reduce heat to medium-low, add rind and simmer for 20 minutes or until softened. Cool.

  2. Gently mix rhubarb, orange segments and strawberries with remaining juice and sugar.
    Drizzle over orange syrup, then serve with creme fraiche or yoghurt.

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