Son of the wealthy Norman knight Jocelin. When Gilbert showed no signs of becoming a soldier, his father exiled him to Paris, France to study. Gilbert returned to England as a master of arts, and opened a school for the children of the poor in Sempringham, paying special attention to training in religion. His father provided him a living from the rents on part of his lands in Sempringham and Tirington, but Gilbert redistributed most of this to the poor. Clerk in the household of bishop Robert Bloet of Lincoln, England. Ordained at age 40. When his parents died in 1130, Gilbert returned to the manor and began to spend his inheritance by founding Benedictine and Augustinian monasteries, and by providing for the poor. He drew up rules for an order of nuns later known as the Gilbertines, the only order founded on a rule designed by an Englishman, and which eventually grew to 26 houses before being suppressed in the persecutions of King Henry VIII. Gilbert was the target of slander, once accused of helping the exiled Saint Thomas Becket, which accusation landed him in prison. When he was 90 years old, some of Gilbert’s lay brothers revolted against his authority, but Pope Alexander III supported Gilbert. He became blind in his old age, put aside all rule of the lands and the orders, devoted himself to prayer and the communal life, and lived to be over 100 years old.
- “Saint Gilbert of Sempringham“. CatholicSaints.Info. 4 February 2010. Web. 19 April 2015. <>