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Encyclopedia > Bernard of Clairvaux
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

Bernard of Clairvaux, in a medieval illuminated manuscript
Abbot and Doctor of the Church
Born 1090, Fontaines, France
Died August 21, 1153, Clairvaux, France
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church, Anglican Church
Canonized 1174
Feast August 20
Attributes with the Virgin Mary, a beehive, dragon, quill, book, or dog
Patronage farm and agriculture workers, Gibraltar, Queens' College, Cambridge
Saints Portal

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1090August 21, 1153) was a French abbot and the primary builder of the reforming Cistercian monastic order. "The voice of conscience, the dominating figure in the Catholic Church from 1125 to 1153"[1], his authority helped to end the schism of 1130. Bernard was the main voice of conservatism during the intellectual revival of Western Europe called the Renaissance of the 12th century and the main opponent of rising scholastic theology. Devoted to promoting the veneration of the Virgin Mary, he was also the most influential advocate of the Second Crusade. He was canonized as a saint in 1174 and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1830. Image File history File links Bernhard of Clairvaux Initial B from a 13th century illuminated manuscript File links The following pages link to this file: Bernard of Clairvaux ... In the strictest definition of illuminated manuscript, only manuscripts decorated with gold or silver, like this miniature of Christ in Majesty from the Aberdeen Bestiary (folio 4v), would be considered illuminated. ... Events Granada captured by Yusuf Ibn Tashfin, King of the Almoravides Beginnings of troubadours in Provence Bejaia becomes the capital of the Algeria Births William of Malmsbury Saint Bernard of Clairvaux Saint Famianus Eliezer ben Nathan of Mainz Deaths Saint Malcoldia of Asti Saint Adalbero Categories: 1090 ... Fontaine is a French word meaning fountain or natural spring. ... is the 233rd day of the year (234th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Events January 6 - Henry of Anjou arrives in England. ... Clairvaux abbey was founded in 1115 by St. ... “Catholic Church” redirects here. ... The Anglican Communion is a world-wide organisation of Anglican Churches. ... Icon of St. ... Events Vietnam is given the official name of Annam by China. ... The calendar of saints is a traditional Christian method of organising a liturgical year on the level of days by associating each day with one or more saints, and referring to the day as that saints day. ... is the 232nd day of the year (233rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Saint symbology was important to people who couldnt read because they can figure out what symbols mean. ... Saint Mary and Saint Mary the Virgin both redirect here. ... The term Beehive can refer to several different things: Beehive (beekeeping) is a human-provided structure in which bees are induced to live and raise their young. ... It has been suggested that European dragon be merged into this article or section. ... A quill pen is made from a flight feather (preferably a primary) of a large bird, most often a goose. ... For other uses, see Book (disambiguation). ... Trinomial name Canis lupus familiaris The dog (Canis lupus familiaris) is a domestic subspecies of the wolf, a mammal of the Canidae family of the order Carnivora. ... Saint Quentin is the patron saint of locksmiths and is also invoked against coughs and sneezes. ... For other uses, see Farmer (disambiguation). ... Full name The Queens College of Saint Margaret and Saint Bernard in the University of Cambridge Motto Floreat Domus May this House Flourish Named after - Previous names - Established 1448 Sister College(s) Pembroke College President Lord Eatwell Location Silver Street Undergraduates 490 Postgraduates 270 Homepage Boatclub The Gatehouse, as... Image File history File links Gloriole. ... Events Granada captured by Yusuf Ibn Tashfin, King of the Almoravides Beginnings of troubadours in Provence Bejaia becomes the capital of the Algeria Births William of Malmsbury Saint Bernard of Clairvaux Saint Famianus Eliezer ben Nathan of Mainz Deaths Saint Malcoldia of Asti Saint Adalbero Categories: 1090 ... is the 233rd day of the year (234th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Events January 6 - Henry of Anjou arrives in England. ... The Order of Cistercians (OCist) (Latin Cistercenses), otherwise Gimey or White Monks (from the colour of the habit, over which is worn a black scapular or apron) are a Catholic order of monks. ... The name Catholic Church can mean a visible organization that refers to itself as Catholic, or the invisible Christian Church, viz. ... New technological discoveries allowed the development of the gothic style. ... Scholasticism comes from the Latin word scholasticus, which means that [which] belongs to the school, and is the school of philosophy taught by the academics (or schoolmen) of medieval universities circa 1100–1500. ... Saint Mary and Saint Mary the Virgin both redirect here. ... The fall of Edessa, seen here on the right of this map (c. ... In traditional Christian iconography, Saints are often depicted as having halos. ... In Roman Catholicism, a Doctor of the Church (Latin doctor, teacher, from Latin docere, to teach) is a saint from whose writings the whole Christian Church is held to have derived great advantage and to whom eminent learning and great sanctity have been attributed by a proclamation of a pope...


Early life

He was born at Fontaines, near Dijon, in France, into the noble class: his father Tescelin was a knight of the lower nobility; and his mother, Aleth, was a daughter of the noble house of Montbard. She was a woman distinguished for her piety, and died while Bernard was a boy. Constitutionally unfit for a military career, his own disposition, as well as his mother's early influence, directed him to the church. His desire to enter a monastery was opposed by his relations, who sent him to study at Châtillon-sur-Seine in order to qualify him for high ecclesiastical preferment. Bernard's resolution to become a monk was not, however, shaken, and when he at last definitely decided to join the community that Robert of Molesme had founded at Citeaux in 1098, he took with him his brothers and many of his relations and friends. Dijon ( , IPA: ) is a city in eastern France, the préfecture (administrative capital) of the Côte-dOr département and of the Bourgogne région. ... Châtillon-sur-Seine is a commune of the Côte-dOr département, Bourgogne région, France. ... A painting of the founders of Citeaux, showing saints Robert, Alberic, and Stephen Harding venerating the Blessed Virgin Mary. ... 16th century Citeaux, perspective view (engraving) Cîteaux Abbey (abbaye de Cîteaux) is a Catholic abbey located in Saint-Nicolas-les-Cîteaux, south of France. ...

Abbot of the Cistercian abbey of Clairvaux

General history of Clairvaux: Clairvaux Abbey

The little community of reformed Benedictines at Cîteaux, which would have so profound an influence on Western monasticism, grew so rapidly that it was soon able to send out offshoots. One of these monasteries, Clairvaux, was founded in 1115, in a wild valley of a tributary of the Aube, on land given by Hugh, count of Champagne and Troyes. There Bernard, a recent initiate, was appointed abbot. Clairvaux Abbey (Clara Vallis in Latin), a Cistercian monastery,was founded in 1115 by St. ... The longest lasting of the western Catholic monastic orders, the Benedictine Order traces its origins to the adoption of the monastic life by St. ... Monasticism (from Greek: monachos — a solitary person) is the religious practice in which one renounces worldly pursuits in order to fully devote ones life to spiritual work. ... Clairvaux abbey was founded in 1115 by St. ... Hugh (c. ...

By the new constitution of the Cistercians, Clairvaux became the chief monastery of the five branches into which the order was divided under the supreme direction of the abbot of Cîteaux. Though nominally subject to Cîteaux, Clairvaux soon became the most important Cistercian house, owing to the fame and influence of Bernard.

Bernard exorcizing a possession, altarpiece by Jörg Breu the Elder, c. 1500.
Bernard exorcizing a possession, altarpiece by Jörg Breu the Elder, c. 1500.

The two-dimensional work of art depicted in this image is in the public domain in the United States and in those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years. ... The two-dimensional work of art depicted in this image is in the public domain in the United States and in those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years. ... Bernard of Clairvaux curing a possession, Zwettl altarpiece Jörg Breu the Elder (ca. ...

Wider influence

Before long the abbot, who had intended to devote his life to the work of his monastery, was drawn into the affairs of the outside world. When in 1124 Pope Honorius II was elected, Bernard was already reckoned among the greatest of French churchmen; he now shared in the most important ecclesiastical discussions, and papal legates sought his counsel. Pope Honorius II should not be confused with Antipope Honorius II, otherwise known as Peter Cadalus. ...

Thus in 1129 he was invited by Cardinal Matthew of Albano to the synod of Troyes, where he was instrumental in obtaining the recognition of the new order of Knights Templar, the rules of which he is said to have drawn up; and in the following year, at the synod of Châlons-sur-Marne, he ended the crisis arising out of certain charges brought against Henry, Bishop of Verdun, by persuading the bishop to resign. Matthew of Albano (died 1134) was a French Benedictine monk and Cardinal[1], and papal legate. ... There have been a number of councils held at Troyes: 867 - proclaimed that no bishop could be disposed without reference to Holy See 1128 - convened by Pope Honorius II: recognized and confirmed the Order of the Knights Templar solved disputes involving the Bishop of Paris Categories: Stub ... The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon (Latin: Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Solomonici), popularly known as the Knights Templar or the Order of the Temple, were among the most famous of the Christian military orders. ...

The schism of 1130–1138

The European importance of Bernard, however, began with the death of Pope Honorius (1130) and the disputed election that followed. In the conclave, Anacletus II was elected by a narrow margin, but many influential cardinals favored the contender, Pope Innocent II, a disciple of Bernard and the Cistercian reforms. In the synod convoked by Louis the Fat at Etampes in April 1130, Bernard successfully asserted the claims of Innocent II against those of Anacletus, and from this moment became Innocent's most influential supporter. He threw himself into the contest with characteristic ardour. While Rome was held by the faction that supported Anacletus, France, England, Spain and Germany declared for Innocent, who, though banished from Rome, was—in Bernard's phrase—"accepted by the world." The pope traveled from place to place, with the powerful abbot of Clairvaux at his side; he stayed at Clairvaux itself, humble still, so far as its buildings were concerned; and he went with Bernard to parley with Lothair II, Holy Roman Emperor, at Liège. Image File history File links Circle-contradict. ... Pope Innocent II (died September 24, 1143), born Gregorio Papareschi, was Pope from 1130 to 1143, and was probably one of the clergy in personal attendance on the antipope Clement III (Guibert of Ravenna). ... con·clave (knklv, kng-) n. ... Anacletus II, born Pietro Pierloni, (d. ... Pope Innocent II (died September 24, 1143), born Gregorio Papareschi, was Pope from 1130 to 1143, and was probably one of the clergy in personal attendance on the antipope Clement III (Guibert of Ravenna). ... Louis VI the Fat (French: Louis VI le Gros) (December 1, 1081 – August 1, 1137) was King of France from 1108 to 1137. ... Lothair II of Supplinburg ( 1075– 1137), was the Duke of Saxony ( 1106), King of Germany ( 1125), and Holy Roman Emperor from 1133 to 1137. ... Geography Country Belgium Community French Community Region Walloon Region Province Liège Arrondissement Liège Coordinates , , Area 69. ...

In 1133, the year of the emperor's first expedition to Rome, Bernard was in Italy persuading the Genoese to make peace with Pisa, since Innocent had need of both. He accompanied Innocent to Rome, successfully resisting the proposal to reopen negotiations with Anacletus, who held the Castel Sant'Angelo and, with the support of Roger II of Sicily, was too strong to be subdued by force. Lothair, though crowned by Innocent in St. Peter's, could do nothing to establish him in the Holy See so long as his own power was sapped by his quarrel with the house of Hohenstaufen. Again Bernard came to the rescue; in the spring of 1135 he was at Bamberg successfully persuading Frederick Hohenstaufen to submit to the emperor. For other uses, see Genoa (disambiguation). ... Leaning Tower of Pisa. ... Castel SantAngelo from the bridge. ... Roger II, from Liber ad honorem Augusti of Petrus de Ebulo, 1196. ... The Basilica of Saint Peter, officially known in Italian as the Basilica di San Pietro in Vaticano and commonly called Saint Peters Basilica, is one of four major basilicas of Rome (St. ... Arms of the Hohenstaufen Dynasty The Hohenstaufen (or the Staufer(s)) were a dynasty of Kings of Germany, many of whom were also crowned Holy Roman Emperor and Dukes of Swabia. ... Bamberg is a town in Bavaria, Germany. ... Frederick II of Hohenstaufen (1090 – April 6, 1147) was duke of Swabia. ...

In June, he was back in Italy, taking a leading part in the council of Pisa, by which Anacletus was excommunicated. In northern Italy, the effect of his personality and of his preaching was immense; Milan itself, of all the Lombard cities most jealous of the imperial claims, surrendered to his eloquence, submitted to Lothar and to Innocent and tried to force Bernard against his will into the vacant see of Milan. Excommunication is religious censure which is used to deprive or suspend membership in a religious community. ... For other uses, see Milan (disambiguation). ...

In 1137, the year of Lothar's last journey to Rome, Bernard was back in Italy again; at Monte Cassino, setting the affairs of the monastery in order, at Salerno, trying in vain to induce Roger of Sicily to declare against Anacletus, and in Rome itself, agitating with success against the antipope. The restored Abbey. ... Salerno is a town in Campania, south-western Italy, the capital of the province of the same name. ...

When Anacletus died on January 25, 1138 and the cardinal Gregory was elected his successor, assuming the name of Victor IV, Bernard's crowning triumph in the long contest was the abdication of the new antipope Victor, the result of his personal influence. The schism of the church was healed and the abbot of Clairvaux was free to return to the peace of his monastery. is the 25th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Events Robert Warelwast becomes Bishop of Exeter. ... Victor IV, born Gregorio Conti was chosen by a party in succession to the antipope Anacletus II (1130–38) on March 13, 1138, but through the influence of Bernard of Clairvaux was induced two months afterwards to make his submission to Pope Innocent II (1130–43). ...

The contest with Abelard

Clairvaux itself had meanwhile (1135–1136) been transformed outwardly—in spite of the reluctance of Bernard, who preferred the rough simplicity of the original buildings—into a more suitable seat for an influence that overshadowed that of Rome itself. How great this influence was is shown by the outcome of Bernard's contest with Peter Abelard. Bernard was the prosecutor in Abelard's trial for heresy. A total of fourteen charges were made over scriptural heresies concerning the nature of the Trinity and God's mercy. Bernard had been hostile to the scholars at the University of Paris, the center of the new learning based on Aristotle, suspecting those who learned "merely in order that they might know" for the vanity of a learned reputation. For Bernard, the liberal arts served a narrow purpose: to prepare for the priesthood. For Bernard, with his fervent and unhesitating faith, rational inquiry like Abelard's was sheer revolt. Bernard was roused by Abelard's steadfastness to put forth all his strength. A council met at Sens (1141), before which Abelard, formally arraigned upon a number of charges of heresy, was prepared to plead his cause. When, however, Bernard had opened the case, suddenly Abelard appealed to Rome. Bernard, who had power, notwithstanding, to get a condemnation passed at the council, did not rest a moment till a second condemnation was procured at Rome in the following year. Meanwhile, on his way there to urge his plea in person, Abelard collapsed at the abbey of Cluny, and there he lingered only a few months before the approach of death. Removed by friends to the priory of St. Marcel, near Chalon-sur-Saone, he died. Additionally, Bernard's and William of St. Thierry's first hand knowledge of Abelard's writings has been debated. Abaelardus and Heloïse surprised by Master Fulbert, by Romanticist painter Jean Vignaud (1819) Pierre Abélard (in English, Peter Abelard) or Abailard (1079 – April 21, 1142) was a French scholastic philosopher, theologian, and logician. ... The Sorbonne, Paris, in a 17th century engraving The historic University of Paris (French: ) first appeared in the second half of the 12th century, but was in 1970 reorganised as 13 autonomous universities (University of Paris I–XIII). ... In the history of education, the seven liberal arts comprise two groups of studies, the trivium and the quadrivium. ... Inside the cathedral of Sens, Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, c. ... Cluny nowadays The town of Cluny or Clugny lies in the modern-day département of Saône-et-Loire in the région of France, near Mâcon. ... Not to be confused with Ch lons-en-Champagne, formerly known as Ch lons-sur-Marne. ...

Bernard and the Cistercian Order

Main article: Cistercian Order

One result of Bernard's fame was the growth of the Cistercian order. Between 1130 and 1145, no less than 93 monasteries in connection with Clairvaux were either founded or affiliated from other rules, three being established in England and one in Ireland. In 1145, a Cistercian monk, once a member of the community of Clairvaux—another Bernard, abbot of Aquae Silviae near Rome, was elected pope as Pope Eugene III. This was a triumph for the order; to the world it was a triumph for Bernard, who complained that all who had suits to press at Rome applied to him, as though he himself had become Pope. Cistercians (OCist) (Latin Cistercenses), otherwise Gimey or White Monks (from the colour of the habit, over which is worn a black Catholic order of monks. ... For other uses, see England (disambiguation). ... The Blessed Eugene III, né Bernardo Pignatelli (d. ...

Bernard and heresy

Having previously healed the schism within the church, Bernard was now called upon to combat heresy. Languedoc especially had become a hotbed of heresy and at this time the preaching of Henry of Lausanne was drawing thousands from the orthodox faith. In June 1145, at the invitation of Cardinal Alberic of Ostia, Bernard traveled in the south. There his preaching, aided by his emaciated ascetic's looks and simple attire, did something to stem the flood of heresy for a while, missionary work and humility having been positive characteristics of Cathars and Waldensians. For the book by Robert Rankin, see The Antipope. ... For the language called Langue doc, see Occitan language. ... Henry of Lausanne (variously known as of Bruys, of Cluny, of Toulouse, of Le Mans and as the Deacon, sometimes referred to as Henry the Monk), French heresiarch of the first half of the 12th century. ... Alberic of Ostia was a Benedictine monk, and Cardinal Bishop of Ostia from 1138-47. ... Cathars being expelled from Carcassonne in 1209. ... The Waldensians, Waldenses or Vaudois are a Christian denomination believing in poverty and austerity, promoting true poverty, public preaching and the literal interpretation of the scriptures. ...

The Vision of St Bernard, by Fra Bartolommeo, c. 1504 (Uffizi)

Fra Bartolommeo ca. ... Fra Bartolommeo ca. ... The Vision of St Bernard ca 1504 (Uffizi) Fra Bartolommeo or Fra Bartolomeo (March 28, 1472 in Florence, Italy – October 31, 1517 in Florence, Italy), born Baccio della Porta, was a Florentine Renaissance painter of religious subjects. ... The narrow courtyard between the Uffizis two wings creates the effect of a short, idealized street. ...

The Second Crusade

Main article: Second Crusade

Far more important was his activity in the following year, when, according to Odo of Deuil, Bernard was asked by Louis VII, as if he were a divine oracle, whether it would be right to raise a crusade (Odo of Deuil, De Profectione, trans V.Berry 1948). Odo writes that Bernard reserved judgement until Pope Eugene III commanded him to preach the Second Crusade. The effect of his eloquence was extraordinary. At the great meeting at Vézelay, on March 21, after Bernard's sermon, King Louis VII of France and his queen, Eleanor, took the cross, together with a host of all classes, so numerous that the stock of crosses was soon exhausted. The fall of Edessa, seen here on the right of this map (c. ... The fall of Edessa, seen here on the right of this map (c. ... Vézelay is a commune in the Yonne département in the Bourgogne région of France. ... Louis VII the Younger (French: Louis VII le Jeune) (1120 – September 18, 1180) was King of France from 1137 to 1180. ... Eleanor of Aquitaine Eleanor of Aquitaine (Aliénor dAquitaine in French), Duchess of Aquitaine and Gascony and Countess of Poitou (1122[1] –April 1, 1204) was one of the wealthiest and most powerful women in Europe during the High Middle Ages. ...

Although Bernard had indeed preached at Vézelay, Louis had already made his plans to embark on the Second crusade at his Christmas court at Bourges of 1145, where Otto of Freising records that Louis wished to make a crusade to fulfil his brother Philip's obligation, after his death had prevented him from making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Bernard continued through northern France, and also preached in Flanders and the Rhine provinces. One reason for his extended preaching tour into Germany was the rabble-rousing of an itinerant monk, Radulf, who had stirred the German populace to anti-Semitic attacks, as recorded by Rabbi Ephraim of Bonn. Radulf preached and was, according to Otto of Freising, living in the Rhineland "in greatest favour of the people" (Gesta Friderici, trans. C. Mierow 1994), and it took Bernard's eloquent preaching to persuade the populace that the Jews were not to be killed "but scattered." At Speyer on Christmas Day he succeeded in persuading Conrad, king of the Romans, to join the crusade. Otto of Freising Otto of Freising Otto von Freising {Otto Frisingensis) (c. ... For other uses, see Flanders (disambiguation). ... Speyer (English formerly Spires) is a city in Germany (Rhineland-Palatinate) with approx. ... Joseph and Mary with baby Jesus, at the first Christmas Christmas (literally, the Mass of Christ) is a holiday in the Christian calendar, usually observed on December 25, which celebrates the birth of Jesus. ... King Conrad III (Cunradus rex) in a 13th-century miniature. ... King of the Romans (Latin: Rex Romanorum) was a title used by the rulers of the Holy Roman Empire before their coronation by the Pope, and later also by the heir designate of the Empire. ...

The disastrous outcome of the crusade was a blow to Bernard, who found it difficult to understand why God would move in this way but ascribed it to the sins of the crusaders (Epistle 288; de Consideratione. ii.I). The news of the defeats of the crusading host first reached Bernard at Clairvaux, where Pope Eugene III, driven from Rome by the revolution of Arnold of Brescia, was his guest. Bernard had in March and April 1148 accompanied the pope to the council of Reims, where he led the attack on certain propositions of the scholastic theologian Gilbert de la Porrée. From whatever cause—possibly the growing jealousy of the cardinals, or the loss of prestige owing to rumours about the crusade, the success of which he had so confidently predicted—Bernard's influence, previously a danger to those suspected of heterodoxy, on this occasion had little effect. The Blessed Eugene III, né Bernardo Pignatelli (d. ... Arnold of Brescia, (c. ... Gilbert de la Porrée, frequently known as Gilbertus Porretanus or Pictavieiisis (1070 - September 4, 1154), scholastic logician and theologian, was born at Poitiers. ...

On the news of the disaster that had overtaken the crusaders, an effort was made to retrieve it by organizing another expedition. At the invitation of Suger, abbot of St Denis, now the virtual ruler of France, Bernard attended the meeting at Chartres in 1150 convened for this purpose, where he himself was elected to conduct the new crusade. An important religious figure of the time, Peter the Venerable, had been invited to this meeting but had declined to attend, and the meeting was perceived by some as a bad idea in light of Bernard's age and frailty, and the theological issues raised by having an abbot lead a fighting army. Eugene III held back from fully endorsing this project which eventually came to nothing, and Bernard himself wrote to Eugene making clear his unsuitability for the task and that he never intended to lead such a crusade. Bernard was aging, broken by his austerities and by ceaseless work, and saddened by the loss of several of his early friends. His intellectual energy remained undimmed. He continued to take an active interest in ecclesiastical affairs, and his last work, the De Consideratione, written to Eugene III and describing the nature of papal power, shows no sign of failing power. Suger (c. ... West façade of Saint Denis Depiction of the Trinity over the main entrance The Basilica of Saint Denis (French: Basilique de Saint-Denis, or simply Basilique Saint-Denis) is the famous burial site of the French monarchs, comparable to Westminster Abbey in England. ... Peter the Venerable (about 1092 - December 25, 1156 in Cluny), also known as Peter of Montboissier, was born to Raingarde in Auvergne. ...

Bernard and the veneration of the Virgin Mary

Lactatio of Bernard of Clairvaux (the milk wonder), unknown source
Lactatio of Bernard of Clairvaux (the milk wonder), unknown source

Bernard expanded upon Anselm of Canterbury's role in transmuting the sacramentally ritual Christianity of the Early Middle Ages into a new, more personally held faith, with the life of Christ as a model and a new emphasis on the Virgin Mary. In opposition to the rational approach to divine understanding that the scholastics adopted, Bernard preached an immediate faith, in which the intercessor was the Virgin Mary—"the Virgin that is the royal way, by which the Saviour comes to us." "Bernard played the leading role in the development of the Virgin cult, which is one of the most important manifestations of the popular piety of the twelfth century. In early medieval thought, the Virgin Mary had played a minor role and it was only with the rise of emotional Christianity in the eleventh century that she became the prime intercessor for humanity with the deity." [2] Image File history File links BernhardClairvaux_Lactatio_SourceUnknown. ... Image File history File links BernhardClairvaux_Lactatio_SourceUnknown. ... Saint Anselm of Canterbury (1033 or 1034 – April 21, 1109) was an Italian medieval philosopher and theologian, who held the office of Archbishop of Canterbury from 1093 to 1109. ... Justinians wife Theodora and her retinue, in a 6th century mosaic from the Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna. ... Saint Mary and Saint Mary the Virgin both redirect here. ...

Bernard's character

Bernard of Clairvaux, true effigy by Georg Andreas Wasshuber (1650-1732), (painted after a statue in Clairvaux with the true effigy of the saint)
Bernard of Clairvaux, true effigy by Georg Andreas Wasshuber (1650-1732), (painted after a statue in Clairvaux with the true effigy of the saint)

The greatness of Bernard is generally regarded as being his character. The age saw him as the embodiment of its ideal: that of medieval monasticism at its highest development. The world had no meaning for him save as a place of banishment and trial, in which men are but "strangers and pilgrims" (Serm. i., Epiph. n. I; Serm. vii., Lent. n. I); the way of grace, back to the lost inheritance, had been marked out, and the function of theology was merely to maintain the landmarks inherited from the past. He had no sympathy with the dialectics of many teachers. Bernard's vision was clear. With merciless logic, he followed the principles of the Christian faith as he conceived it. For all his overmastering zeal, he was by nature neither a bigot nor a persecutor. Even when preaching the crusade, he interfered at Mainz to stop the persecution of the Jews, stirred up by the monk Radulf.[1] As for heretics, "the little foxes that spoil the vines should be taken, not by force of arms, but by force of argument." However, if any heretic refused to be thus taken, he considered "that he should be driven away, or even a restraint put upon his liberty, rather than that he should be allowed to spoil the vines" (Serm. lxiv). He was troubled by the mob violence that made the heretics "martyrs to their unbelief." He approved the zeal of the people, but believed that "faith is to be produced by persuasion, not imposed by force;" adding that "it would without doubt be better that they should be coerced by the sword than that they should be allowed to draw away many other persons into their error." Finally, he ascribes the steadfastness of these "dogs" in facing death to the power of the devil (Serm. lxvi on Canticles ii.15). Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (690x1156, 353 KB) File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Bernard of Clairvaux Metadata This file contains additional information, probably added from the digital camera or scanner used... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (690x1156, 353 KB) File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Bernard of Clairvaux Metadata This file contains additional information, probably added from the digital camera or scanner used... Mainz is a city in Germany and the capital of the German federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate. ... Radulf of Narbonne was Count of Narbonne and was of unknown origin, but he was count in 754 after the killing of Ansemund, probably by designation of the Frankish king. ... Historically, a martyr is a person who dies for his or her religious faith. ...

Bernard at his best displays a nobility of nature, a wise charity and tenderness in his dealings with others, and a genuine humility, which make him one of the most complete exponents of the Christian life. His broad Christian character is witnessed to by the enduring quality of his influence. The author of the Imitatio drew inspiration from his writings; the reformers saw him as a medieval champion of their favourite doctrine of the supremacy of the divine grace. His works have been reprinted in countless editions. This is perhaps due to the fact that the chief fountain of his own inspiration was the Bible itself. He was saturated in its language and in its spirit; he read it, as might be expected, uncritically, and interpreted its plain meanings allegorically—as the fashion of the day was. He accepted the teaching of the church with regard to the reverence due to saints, and most especially to Mary, devotion to whom he promoted (see above), but in his letters and sermons their names are at other times seldom invoked. They were overshadowed by his idea of the grace of God and the moral splendour of Christ; "from Him do the Saints derive the odour of sanctity; from Him also do they shine as lights" (Ep. 464). The Imitation of Christ (or De imitatione Christi), by Thomas à Kempis is one of the most widely read Christian spiritual books in existence. ... This Gutenberg Bible is displayed by the United States Library. ...

Bernard's popularity as a preacher cannot be judged by the sermons that survive. These were all delivered in Latin, to congregations more or less on his own intellectual level. Like his letters, they are full of quotations from and reference to the Bible and they have all the qualities likely to appeal to men of culture at all times. For other uses, see Latin (disambiguation). ...

In The Divine Comedy, Bernard is the last of Dante's spiritual guides and offers his prayer to the Virgin Mary to grant Dante the vision of the true nature of God, which is the climax of the story. The Divine Comedy (Italian: , later christened Divina by Giovanni Boccaccio), written by Dante Alighieri between 1308 and his death in 1321, is widely considered the central epic poem of Italian literature, and is seen as one of the greatest works of world literature. ...

"Bernard," wrote Erasmus of Rotterdam in his Art of Preaching, "is an eloquent preacher, much more by nature than by art; he is full of charm and vivacity and knows how to reach and move the affections." The same is true of the letters and to an even more striking degree. They are written on a variety of subjects, great and small, to people of the most diverse stations and types; and they help us to understand the adaptable nature of the man, which enabled him to appeal as successfully to the uneducated as to the learned. This article deals with the Erasmus, the theologian. ...

Modern relevance of Bernard's writings

In August 2006, speaking during a Sunday address at the summer papal palace in Castel Gandolfo, a lakeside town in the Alban Hills southeast of Rome, Pope Benedict XVI quoted from one of the writings of Bernard, his Five Books on Consideration: Advice to a Pope (De Consideratione), Bernard's last work, written about 1148 at the pope's request for the edification and guidance of Eugenius III. Eugenius was one of Bernard's own monks, who had been raised to the papal throne. Bernard served as the new pope's political and spiritual counselor. Castel Gandolfo and the Lake of Albano. ... The Alban Hills (It. ... This article is becoming very long. ... The Blessed Eugene III, né Bernardo Pignatelli (d. ...

Benedict quoted Bernard as advising pontiffs to "watch out for the dangers of an excessive activity, whatever ... the job that you hold, because many jobs often lead to the 'hardening of the heart,' as well as 'suffering of the spirit, loss of intelligence."' "We have to guard ourselves, the saint observed, from the dangers of excessive activity, regardless of the office one holds, because too many concerns can often lead to hardness of heart," the Pope said.

"This warning is valid for every type of job, even those concerned with the government of the church," Benedict said. He said one should always make room for "prayer and contemplation."


Bernard's works fall into two categories:

  • (1) Letters, of which over five hundred have been preserved, of great interest and value for the history of the period and as an insight into his character.
  • (2) Treatises:
    • (a) dogmatic and polemical, De gratia et libero arbitrio, written about 1127, and following closely the lines laid down by St Augustine of Hippo; De baptismo aliisque quaestionibus ad mag. Ilugonem de S. Victore; Contra quaedam capitala errorum Abaelardi ad Innocentem II (in justification of the action of the synod of Sens);
    • (b) ascetic and mystical, De gradibus humilitatis ci superbiae, his first work, written perhaps about 1121; De diligendo Deo (about 1126); De conversione ad clericos, an address to candidates for the priesthood; De Consideratione, Bernard's last work, written about 1148 at the pope's request for the edification and guidance of Eugene III;
    • (c) about monasticism, Apologia ad Guilelmum, written about 1127 to William, abbot of St Thierry; De laude novae militiae ad milites templi (c. 1132--1136); De precepto et dispensatione, an answer to various questions on monastic conduct and discipline addressed to him by the monks of St Peter at Chartres (some time before 1143);
    • (d) on ecclesiastical government, De moribus et officio episcoporum, written about 1126 for Henry, bishop of Sens; the De Consideratione mentioned above;
    • (e) a biography, De vita et rebus gestis S. Maiachiae, Hiberniae episcopi, written at the request of the Irish abbot Congan and with the aid of materials supplied by him; it is of importance for the ecclesiastical history of Ireland in the 12th century;
    • (f) sermons--divided into Sermones de tempore; de sanctis; de diversis; and eighty-six sermons, in Cantica Canticorum, an allegorical and mystical exposition of the Song of Solomon;
    • (g) hymns. Many hymns ascribed to Bernard survive, e.g. Jesu dulcis memoria, Jesus rex admirabilis, Jesu decus angelicum, Salve Caput cruentatum.

Of these the three first are included in the Roman breviary. Many have been translated and are used in Protestant churches. “Augustinus” redirects here. ... For other uses, see Song of Solomon (disambiguation). ...


The first time Bernard's works were published in anything like a complete edition was in 1508 at Paris, under the title Seraphica melliflui devotique doctoris S. Bernardi scripta, edited by André Bocard. The first really critical and complete edition is that of Dom J. Mabillon, Sancti Bernardi opp. etc. (Paris, 1667, improved and enlarged in 1690, then again by René Massuet and Texier in 1719), reprinted by JP Migne, Patrolog. lat. (Paris, 1859). Jean Mabillon (November 23, 1632-December 27, 1707) was a Benedictine monk and scholar, considered the founder of palaeography and diplomatics. ... René Massuet (born 13 August 1666, at St. ... Jacques Paul Migne (25 October 1800 - 25 October 1875) was a French priest who published inexpensive and widely-distributed editions of theological works, encyclopedias and the texts of the Church Fathers. ... The Patrologia Latina is an enormous work published by Jacques-Paul Migne between 1844 and 1855, with indices published between 1862 and 1865. ...

The modern critical edition is edited by Leclerq, Talbot and Rochais (8 vols., Rome, 1958-1975). There is an English translation of Mabillon's edition, which includes, however, only the letters and the sermons on the Song of Songs, with the biographical and other prefaces, by Samuel J. Eales (4 vols., London, 1889--1895). More recent (1970s-1990s) English translations of many of Bernard's works can be found in the Cistercian Fathers series, published by Cistercian Publications.[3]

Prayer To The Shoulder Wound Of Christ

It is related in the annals of Clairvaux, that St. Bernard asked Our Lord which was His greatest unrecorded suffering and Our Lord answered,

"I had on My Shoulder, while I bore My Cross on the Way of Sorrows, a grievous Wound which was more painful than the others and which is not recorded by men. Honor this Wound with thy devotion and I will grant thee whatsoever thou dost ask through its virtue and merit and in regard to all those who shall venerate this Wound, I will remit to them all their venial sins and will no longer remember their mortal sins."

Bernard's prayer:

'"O Loving Jesus, Meek Lamb of God, I miserable sinner, salute and worship the most Sacred Wound of Thy Shoulder on which Thou didst bear Thy heavy Cross, which so tore Thy Flesh and laid bare Thy Bones as to inflict on Thee an anguish greater than any other wound of Thy Most Blessed Body. I adore Thee, O Jesus most sorrowful; I praise and glorify Thee and give Thee thanks for this most sacred and painful Wound, beseeching Thee by that exceeding pain and by the crushing burden of Thy heavy Cross, to be merciful to me, a sinner, to forgive me all my mortal and venial sins and to lead me on towards Heaven along the Way of Thy Cross. Amen."


  1. ^ Cantor 1993
  2. ^ Cantor 1993 p. 341
  3. ^ http://www.cistercianpublications.org


  • Cantor, Norman F. 1993. The Civilization of the Middle Ages
  • This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.

Norman F. Cantor (born in Winnipeg, Canada in 1930, died in Miami, Florida, United States on September 18, 2004) was a historian who specialized in the medieval period. ... Encyclopædia Britannica, the eleventh edition The Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition (1910–1911) is perhaps the most famous edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica. ... The public domain comprises the body of all creative works and other knowledge—writing, artwork, music, science, inventions, and others—in which no person or organization has any proprietary interest. ...

See also

Clairvaux Abbey (Clara Vallis in Latin), a Cistercian monastery,was founded in 1115 by St. ... Not everyone listed here is Christian or a mystic, but all have contributed to the Christian understanding of connection to or direct experience of God. ...

External links

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