Saint Bernard of Clairvaux
AKA: Mellifluous Doctor of the Church; Last of the Fathers of the Holy Church
Born: 1090 in Fontaine-les-Dijon, Burgundy, France
Died: August 20, 1153 at Clairvaux Abbey, Ville-sous-la-Ferte, Aube, France
Venerated: Roman Catholic Church; Anglican Church; Lutheran Church
Canonized: January 18, 1174 by Pope Alexander III
Feast Day: August 20
Places: Burgundy, France
Queens' College, University of Cambridge, England
Cistercian having a vision of Mary
Cistercian with a beehive
Cistercian with a chained demon
Cistercian with a mitre on the ground beside him
Cistercian with a swarm of bees nearby
Cistercian with a white dog
Cistercian writing and watching Mary
Instruments of the Passion
with Saint Humberline
Saint Bernard was born of noble parentage in Burgundy, France, in a castle of Fontaines, near Dijon. Under the care of his pious parents, he was sent at an early age to a college at Chatillon, where he was conspicuous for his remarkable piety and spirit of recollection. At the same place he entered upon the studies of theology and Holy Scripture. After the death of his mother, fearing the snares and temptations of the world, he resolved to embrace the newly established and austere institute of the Cistercian Order, of which he was destined to become the greatest ornament. He also persuaded his brothers and several of his friends to follow his example.
In 1113, Saint Bernard, with 30 young noblemen, presented himself to the holy Abbot, Saint Stephen, at Citeaux. After a novitiate spent in great fervor, he made his profession in the following year. His superior soon after, seeing the great progress he had made in the spiritual life, sent him with 12 monks to found a new monastery, which afterward became known as the celebrated Abbey of Clairvaux. Saint Bernard was at once appointed Abbot and began that active life which has rendered him the most conspicuous figure in the history of the 12th century.
He founded numerous other monasteries, composed a number of works and undertook many journeys for the honor of God. Several Bishoprics were offered him, but he refused them all. His reputation spread far and wide; even the Popes were governed by his advise.
He was commissioned by Pope Eugene III to preach the second Crusade. In obedience to the Sovereign Pontiff, he traveled through France and Germany, and aroused the greatest enthusiasm for the holy war among the masses of the population. The failure of the expedition raised a great storm against the Saint, but he attributed it to the sins of the Crusaders. Saint Bernard was eminently endowed with the gift of miracles. He died on August 20, 1153, and was canonized in 1174 by Pope Alexander III.
Prayer: God, You blessed Your Church with Saint Bernard, a man full of zeal for Your house, radiating brightness and ardent love. Through his intercession, grant that we may be animated by the same spirit and always walk as children of light. Amen.
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