Stephen was born in Lyons (France) into the noble family of Châtillon in the mid-12th century. We know little about his early life, but at twenty-five he came to try the Carthusian life at the Charterhouse of Portes (France). He was favorably impressed and asked to be admitted. The monks accepted him gladly.
He soon stood out for his great fervor and self-denial. He radiated piety. When saying Mass, he had the gift of tears. The sight of a crucifix was sufficient to carry him into ecstasy. His spirituality can be summarized as follows: ardent devotion to the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, to the holy Eucharist, and to our Lady, and also zeal for the liturgy. All of his piety was manifested in a vibrant atmosphere of love of God and of neighbor. So it was not astonishing that when the Prior of Portes died, the monks elected Stephen as his successor (in the year 1196). As Prior he fulfilled the expectations of the community, putting all his gifts into service of a prudent leadership, while maintaining his union with God. His reputation soon spread beyond the Charterhouse.
In 1202 the little French diocese of Die, not very far from Portes, needed a new Bishop. The officials of that diocese were unanimous in their choice of Stephen. At first he refused energetically, but when they drew his attention to the example of Hugh, the Carthusian Bishop of Lincoln in England, who had died two years earlier, he finally accepted.
As Bishop he kept up monastic prayer and austerities, while at the same time, by preaching and good example, he worked tirelessly and fruitfully for the salvation of souls. Just like other Carthusians who became Bishops, Stephen used to take a retreat from time to time in his monastery, refreshing mind and body in solitude. He always did so without showing in any way the high dignity with which he was invested.
He was well aware of the fact that the responsibilities of a Bishop are not without risks. That is why, although still only in his fifties, he said one day to a dying Carthusian brother: “Brother, this infirmity will take you to the Lord. When you are with Him, please pray for me and ask Him for the grace not to allow me to continue in my episcopal ministry.” Remarkably Stephen died twelve days after the brother died, on September 7, 1208. He was around 55 years old, and had been a Bishop for six years.
it is not our frail body but our ardent spirit which can reach Your eternal glory.
Make us, like Saint Stephen, strive always for those heavenly realms.
We ask this in the name of Jesus, the Lord.