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Saint Bernard by Antonio Palomino [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

August 20

Saint Bernard, Abbot and Doctor of the Church


“The faithful know how much need they have of Jesus and Him crucified; but though they wonder and rejoice at the ineffable love made manifest in Him, they are not daunted at having no more than their own poor souls to give in return for such great and condescending charity. They love all the more, because they know themselves to be loved so exceedingly… ” [1]

St. Bernard was born into a noble family in 1090 at Fontaines in eastern France. St. Bernard studied literature and sacred scripture with the canons at Châtillon-sur-Seine. When he was 23, he and 30 young nobles entered the monastery of Cîteaux, the monastery from which sprang the Cistercian Order. Three years later he was sent to found the monastery of Clairvaux. St. Bernard became very influential. He served as secretary to the Synod of Troyes (1128), supported Innocent II in his struggle with a rival papal claimant, and urged the condemnations of teachings of Abelard at the Council of Sens (1140) and of Gilbert de la Porrée at Reims (1148). His monastery at Clarivaux attracted many new members; from it monks were sent to Portugal, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Sweden, England, and Ireland to establish new Cistercian communities. He was a brilliant writer, who knew the Bible extremely well. He had a great devotion to Mary. Bernard was canonized in 1174 by Pope Alexander III and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1830 by Pope Pius VIII. [2]

Written by Sarah Ciotti
Reviewed by Fr. Hugh Feiss, OSB, STD

[1] St. Bernard of Clairvaux, On Loving God, Christian Classics Ethereal Library, 7, www.ccel.org.
[2] Catholicpedia: The Original Catholic Encyclopedia (1917) for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. s.v. “St. Bernard of Clairvaux.”

The English translation of The Liturgy of the Hours (Four Volumes) ©1974, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. Readings and Old and New Testament Canticles (except the Gospel Canticles) are from the New American Bible © 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C.. Used with permission. All rights reserved. The DivineOffice.org website, podcast, apps and all related media follows the liturgical calendar for the United States. The 1970 edition of the New American Bible as published in the Liturgy of the Hours is approved for use only in the United States. DivineOffice.org website, podcast, apps and all related media is © 2006-2022 Surgeworks, Inc. All rights reserved.

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