St. Bernard of Clairvaux

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Bernard of Clairvaux (1090 – 1153), was a Burgundian abbot and a major leader in the revitalization of Benedictine monasticism and was highly influential on the the Order of Cistercians, an order of monks and nuns that branched off from the Benedictines.  In 1115, Bernard was sent to found Clairvaux Abbey, a Cistercian monastery in the Kingdom of Burgundy (present-day France).  In 1128, Bernard attended the Council of Troyes, at which he traced the outlines of the Rule of the Knights Templar, which soon became an ideal of Christian nobility.

On the death of Pope Honorius II in 1130, a schism broke out in the Church by the election of two popes, Pope Innocent II and Antipope Anacletus II. Innocent, having been banished from Rome by Anacletus, took refuge in France. Bernard was a major proponent of Pope Innocent II, arguing effectively for his legitimacy over the Antipope Anacletus II.

Bernard was canonized as a saint just 21 years after his death by Pope Alexander III. In 1830 Pope Pius VIII declared him a Doctor of the Church.  Bernard’s theology and Mariology continue to be of major importance, particularly within the Cistercian and Trappist Orders.  Bernard helped found 163 monasteries in different parts of Europe. His influence led Alexander III to launch reforms that led to the establishment of canon law.  He is labeled the “Mellifluous Doctor” for his eloquence. Cistercians honour him as one of the greatest early Cistercians.  Bernard is Dante Alighieri’s last guide, in Divine Comedy, as he travels through the Empyrean.  Dante’s choice appears to be based on Bernard’s contemplative mysticism, his devotion to Mary, and his reputation for eloquence.



  • De gradibus humilitatis et superbiae (The steps of humility and pride)
  • Apologia ad Guillelmum Sancti Theoderici Abbatem (Apology to William of St. Thierry)
  • De conversione ad clericos sermo seu liber (On the conversion of clerics)
  • De gratia et libero arbitrio (On grace and free choice)
  • De diligendo Dei (On loving God)
  • Liber ad milites templi de laude novae militiae (In Praise of the new knighthood)
  • De praecepto et dispensatione libri (Book of precepts and dispensations)
  • De consideratione (On consideration)
  • Liber De vita et rebus gestis Sancti Malachiae Hiberniae Episcopi (The life and death of Saint Malachy, bishop of Ireland)
  • De moribus et officio episcoporum


  • Sermones super Cantica Canticorum (Sermons on the Song of Songs)
  • Sermones de diversis (Sermons on Different Topics)
  • Sermones per annum (Sermons on the Liturgical Year)

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