« Turlande »
Turlande is an old lordship of high Auvergne (near Paulhenc, in the Cantal) whose origin is in the eleventh century, at the time of the constitution of “vigueries” Carolingian. Robert bears the name, which places him in the family of a Itier or Hildegaire, count apanagist of Auvergne of which one of the heirs would be Béraud, sire of Mercoeur, father of Odilon, fourth abbot of Cluny. The mother of Robert, Gerberge, elder sister of the second wife of Béraud, belongs to the family of the counts of Mâcon from which is born Guillaume dit le Pieux, count of Auvergne and duke of Aquitaine, the founder of Cluny in 910 -912.According to the legend, her birthplace would be located in one of the estates owned by her family, the Villa de Reilhac, near Langeac, which she had ceded, before 983, an important part in the chapter Saint-Julien de Brioude. The young Robert spent his youth years in an atmosphere of study and great devotion, then made a stay in Cluny with his close relative, Father Odilon, one of the founders, with members of his immediate family, of the priory of La Vouute-Chilhac. It is because Mercoeur’s family has the reputation of being of incomparable sanctity and declares itself resolutely hostile to the private wars ravaging the Auvergne and the Velay. Robert has as examples those of his aunt Blismode, abbess of Autun in Burgundy, but also those of his cousins, Etienne, provost then bishop of Puy in 1029, Itier or Hildegaire, canon of Puy and Pierre, provost of the cathedral then bishop from Puy until 1073. Very quickly, the Mercoeur will claim to hold their fiefs only of God.
« The dates of his life »
1001: Birth of Robert in a large Auvergne family, Turlande. His mother gives birth to him while she is on the way, in a deserted area, not far from Langeac.
1018: He is entrusted to the canons of the Saint-Julien’s basilica in Brioude.
1026: He in turn becomes a canon. Ordained priest, he is entrusted with the charge of the treasury of the chapter but does not like this kind of life. Recognized for his piety and the goodness of his heart, he is drawn to poverty and charity. He built, on his own money, a hospital in Brioude to welcome the poor and pilgrims. Tempted by the contemplative life, his desire to help others prevents him from doing so. To withdraw into a monastery seems to be the solution. Robert decides to go to Cluny to join a relative of his family, Odilon de Mercoeur, but his confreres and his proteges fight to keep him in Brioude. It then follows a period of inaction that reinforces Robert’s desire to leave the canonical life for monastic life. The “Cluny” order, by its temporal riches, its ostentatious liturgy and the comfort of everyday life, does not seem to suit it.
About 1040: He goes on pilgrimage to Rome, then to “Mont Cassin”, to study and collect at his source the rule of St. Benedict of Nursia.
1043: With this rule, he returned to France with two of his companions, Etienne and Delmas, and moved to a ruined chapel at the source of the Senouire, to live as a hermit with his two companions. Located at 1080 meters above sea level, this place is described as a sterile, cold and lost country, covered by the forest. He is then joined by a growing number of young people attracted by his faith and charisma, so that he must renounce the hermit life. The small community that he founded adopts the rule of St. Benedict, with however some adaptations due to climate.
1052: The Church, seeing in this growing community a wonderful reservoir of men of God, does not delay, despite the protests of Robert, to erect the small monastery, under construction, in Benedictine abbey, under the name of Casa Dei, which means House of God. Pope Leo IX grants his protection to the abbey.
April 17, 1067: Death of Robert of Turlande. Its abbey is at the head of a network of 42 priories including a female dependence with the monastery of Lavaudieu.