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Blessed Theodore De Celles, Founder

Theodore of Celles (in present-day Belgium) is venerated as the primary founder of our Order. Theodore is first mentioned in the 17th-century work of Henricus Russelius, Chronicon Cruciferorum sine Synopsis Memorabilium Sacri et Canonici Ordinis Sanctae Crucis.

Blessed-TheodoreAccording to Russelius, Theodore, while participating in the Third Crusade, visited Jerusalem where he became acquainted with the Canons Regular of the Holy Sepulcher. He was attracted to their way of life, both their common prayer and their ministry. The Bishop of Liege, whom Theodore accompanied on the Crusade, appointed him a canon of the cathedral of Liege when they returned home.

Theodore soon became interested in the community life of the canons of the cathedral. After he made a journey to southern France to preach against the Albigensians, he returned to Liege and renounced his position as a canon and took up residence near St. Theobald's chapel outside Huy in a place called Clarus Locus.

In 1214, Theodore and his companions applied for confirmation of their foundation to papal authorities. Later, Theodore traveled to Rome, and Pope Innocent III confirmed his request to begin a religious community on May 3, 1216 (feast of the Invention [finding] of the Holy Cross).

The earliest Crosiers, under the leadership of Theodore, were known as the Brethren of the Holy Cross. Little else is known of the life of our holy founder. It is believed that Theodore of Celles, the first prior of Clairlieu in Huy, died in 1236.

 Blessed Theodore Icon by Fr. William Hart McNichols