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230

LETTER LIV

To Ermengarde, Formerly Countess of Brittany 8686    She was the wife of Count Alan, and a great benefactress to Clairvaux. She built the monks a monastery near the town of Nantes (see Ernald, Life of S. Bernard, ii. 34, and according to Mabillon’s Chronology, 1135 A.D.). The name of the monastery is Buzay; it is presided over by the most illustrious Abbot Caumartin, who has communicated to me the first charter founding the convent. In this charter Duke Conan, son of Alan and Ermengarde, asserts that he and his mother had determined to build the Abbey of Buzay, but that, misled by evil counsel of certain persons, they had desisted from their undertaking. At length Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux, came into those parts. The House of Buzay was dependent upon his abbey. Bernard, seeing the place almost desolate, was deeply grieved, “and,” says Conan, “rebuked me with the most severe reproofs as false and perfidious; and then ordered the abbot and monks who tarried there to abandon the place and return to Clairvaux.” Conan interposed, and after restoring the property of the monastery which he had taken away, took steps for the completion of the building. The charter is signed by Bishops Roland, of Vannes; Alan, of Rennes; John, of St. Malo; Iterius, of Nantes; and also by Peter, Abbot of the monastery, and Andrew, a monk. But to return to Ermengarde. Godfrey, Abbot of Vendôme (Bk. v. Letter 23), urges her to resume her purpose of entering the religious life, which she appears to have abandoned. The same Godfrey, in the next Letter, speaks of her as of royal blood.

To his beloved daughter in Christ, Ermengarde, once the most noble Countess, now the humble handmaid of Christ, Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux, offers the pious affection of holy love.

Would that, as I now open this page before me, so I could open my mind to you! Oh! that you could read in my heart what God has deigned to write there with His own finger concerning my 231affection for you! Then, indeed, you might. understand, how no tongue or pen can suffice to express, what the spirit of God hath been able to impress on my inmost heart! And even now I am, present: with you in the spirit, though absent in the body. It is neither in your power nor mine to be in the presence of the other. Yet you have with you the means whereby you may not yet know, but at any rate guess what I mean. Within your own heart. behold mine; and ascribe to me as great affection toward you as you know to be in yourself towards me. Yet do not think that you have more for me than I for you; nor have a better opinion of your own heart than of mine, in respect of affection. Besides, you are too humble and modest not to believe that He who has brought you so to love me and to follow my counsel for your salvation has inspired me also with feelings of affectionate concern for you. So you are thinking how you may keep me with you; and I; to confess the truth, am nowhere without you or away from you. I was anxious to write this short note to you about my journey while on the way, hoping to send you a longer one when I have more leisure, if God will.


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