« Prev St. Bernard of Clairvaux Next »

§ 65. St. Bernard of Clairvaux.


Virtus in pace acquiritur, in pressura probatur, approbatur in victoria, St. Bernard.625625    Ep., 126; Migne, 182, 271.


Literature.—The Works of St. Bernard, ed. by Mabillon, 2 vols. Paris, 1667, reprinted with additions in Migne, 182–185, Engl. trans. by Saml. J. Eales, London, 1889, 2 vols.—Xenia Bernardina, a Memorial ed. by Cistercian convents of Austro-Hungary, 6 vols. Vienna, 1891. Leop. Janauschek: Bibliographia Bernardina, Vienna, 1891. The tract De consideratione, trans. by Bp. J. H. Reinkens, Münster, 1870.

Biographies.—Contemporary, in Migne, vol. 185: I. the so-called Vita prima, in six parts, by William of Thierry (while Bernard was still living), Gaufrid of Clairvaux, and Ernald, abbot of Bona Vallis; II. the Vita secunda, by Alanus of Auxerre; III. Fragments collected by Gaufrid; IV.—a Life, by John The Hermit, full of legendary materials.—Modern, by Neander, Berlin, 1813, 1848, 1868, new ed. with Introd. and Notes, by * S. M. Deutsch, 2 vols. Gotha, 1889. Engl. trans. London, 1843.—Ellendorf, Essen, 1837.—Abbé T. Ratisbonne, 2 vols. Paris, 1841, etc. Full of enthusiasm for Bernard as a saint.—* J. C. Morison, London, 1863; rev. ed. 1868, 1884. Cool and impartial.—Capefigue, Paris, 1866.—Chevallier, 2 vols. Lille, 1888.—Hofmeister, Berlin, 1891.—Eales (Rom. Cath.), London, 1891.—*Richard S. Storrs, 1892, stimulating and eloquent.—*L’Abbé E. Vacandard, 2 vols. Paris, 1895, 2d ed. 1897. A thorough study following a number of previous presentations in magazines and brochures.—J. Lagardère, Besançon, 1900.—Deutsch, art. Bernhard, in Herzog, II. 623–639. Also H. Kutter: Wilhelm von St. Thierry, ein Representant der mittelalterlichen Frömmigkeit, Giessen, 1898. For other literature see chapters, Mystical Theology and Hymns.


St. Bernard, 1090–1153, founder and abbot of the convent of Clairvaux, was the model monk of the Middle Ages, the most imposing figure of his time, and one of the best men of all the Christian centuries. He possessed a magnetic personality, a lively imagination, a rich culture, and a heart glowing with love for God and man. Although not free from what might now be called ecclesiastical rigor, he was not equalled by any of his contemporaries in services for the Church and man. "In his countenance," according to the contemporary biographer who knew him well, "there shone forth a pureness not of earth but of heaven, and his eyes had the clearness of an angel’s and the mildness of a dove’s eyes."626626    Vita prima, III. 1; Migne, 185, 303. Gaufrid, the biographer, presents an elaborate description of his qualities. He says, Bernard was magnanimus in fide, longanimis in spe, profusus in charitate, summur in humilitate, praecipuus in pietate. Alanus in Vita secunda, XVII. 47, Migne, 185, 497, gives this high praise, humanissimus in affectione, magis tamen forte in fide.ss as any man of his century.627627    This was the judgment of Philip Schaff, Literature and Poetry, p. 282. Bernard not seldom used in his letters such expressions as this, Nonne ego puer parvulus, Am I not as a little child? Ep., 365; Migne, 182, 570.

In the twelfth century there were at least two other ecclesiastics of the first order of genius, Anselm and Innocent III. The former passed away a few years after the century opened. Innocent began his papal reign two years before it went out. Anselm has pre-eminence as a profound theological thinker and dialectician. Innocent ruled the world, as pope never ruled it before or since. Between the two fall the intellectual genius and activity of Bernard, combining some of the qualities of Anselm and Innocent. As a mystical theologian he is allied to Anselm, whose Meditations give him a high place in the annals of devotional literature. And Bernard was also a statesman, although he did not attain the eminence of Innocent and shrank from participation in public affairs which were so much to the taste of the great pope. Contemporary with himself was Peter Abaelard, whose brilliant mind won for him enviable fame as a teacher and thinker. But Abaelard never won the confidence of his own age, and is not to be compared with Bernard in moral dignity.

By preference a monk, Bernard figured, with almost equal prominence, in the history of the papacy, the Crusades, mysticism, monasticism, and hymnology. In the annals of monasticism, the pulpit, and devotional literature he easily occupies a place in the front rank. He was called the "honey-flowing doctor," doctor mellifluus. Twenty years after his death he was canonized by Alexander III. as "shining preeminently in his own person by virtue of sanctity and religion, and in the whole Church by the light of his doctrine and faith."628628    The document is given in Migne, 185, 622 sq. regard.629629    Calvin says, Inst. IV. 2, 11, "in his de consideratione Bernard speaks as though the very truth itself were speaking." Luther, directed to Bernard by Staupitz, studied his works, and often appealed to his words. Köstlin, Life of Luther, I. 81. He praised Bernard for not having depended upon his monk’s vow, but upon the free grace of Christ for salvation. Denifle, Luther und Lutherthum, I. 56-64, tries to make out that Luther falsified when he represented Bernard as putting aside, as it were, his monastic profession as a thing meritorious. Luther, in an animated passage, declared that at the close of his life Bernard had exclaimed, tempus meum perdidi quia perdite vixi, "I have lost my time because I have lived badly, but there is one thing that consoles me, a contrite and broken heart Thou dost not despise." You see, said Luther, how Bernard hung his cowl on the hook and returned to Christ. It seems, according to Denifle, that the two clauses were not uttered at the same time by Bernard. The exclamation, "I have lost my life," was made in a sermon on the Canticles, Migne, 183, 867, and the other part was said by Bernard in a time of severe sickness. This is not the place to take up Denifle’s charge that Luther was playing fast and loose with Bernard’s ut-terances to make out a case, but it is sufficient to say that Luther was inten-ding to emphasize that Bernard depended solely upon grace for salvation, and this position is justified by expressions enough in Bernard’s writings.

Bernard was descended from a noble family of Burgundy, and was born at Fontaines near Dijon. He was one of seven children, six of whom were sons. His mother, Aletha, like Nonna and Monica, was a deeply pious woman and planted in the son the seeds of religious faith.630630    Her piety is greatly praised by contemporaries. The abbot of St. Benignus at Dijon begged her body for his convent. William of St. Thierry said of her that "she ruled her household in the fear of God, was urgent in works of mercy, and brought up her sons in all obedience," enutriens filios in omni disciplina. Vita prima, I. 1.nvent of Citeaux, two of his brothers following him at once, and the rest later into the monastic life.

This was in 1113 that Bernard cast in his lot with the Cistercians, and the event proved to be an epoch in the history of that new community. His diet was bread and milk or a decoction of herbs.631631    Migne, 185, 260.eproached himself for this intemperate self-mortification which unfitted his body for the proper service of the Lord. But his spirit triumphed over his physical infirmities.632632    Virtus vehementius in infirmitate ejus refulgens, etc. Vita prima, VIII. 41; Migne, 185, 251. He studied the Scriptures and the Fathers. His writings betray acquaintance with the classics and he quotes Seneca, Ovid, Horace, and other classical writers. The works of nature also furnished him with lessons, and he seems to have approached the modern estimate of nature as an aid to spiritual attainment. "Thou wilt find," he wrote,633633    To an Englishman, Henry Murdoch, Ep., 106; Migne, 182, 242. Aliquid amplius invenies in silvis quam in libris. Ligna et lapides docebunt te, quod a magistris audire non possis. An non putas posse te sugere mel de petra oleumque de saxo durissimo? etc. The words remind us of Shakespeare’s oft-quoted lines:
   books in the running brooks,

   Sermons in stones, and good in everything.
ney from the rocks and oil from the hardest stones!" This seems to lose its weight in view of what one of Bernard’s biographers relates. Bernard travelled the whole day alongside the Lake of Geneva, and was so oblivious to the scenery that in the evening, at Lausanne, he was obliged to inquire what they had seen on the journey. We are probably justified in this case in ascribing an ascetic purpose to the monkish writer.634634    Vita prima, III. 2; Migne, 185, 306. A mediaeval description of the beauties of nature is a rare thing. The Canticle of the Sun, by Francis d’Assisi, is an exception. Otto of Freising accompanied Frederick Barbarossa on his journey to Rome to receive the imperial crown, and speaks with much enthusiasm about the military display of the Germans, but had not a word to say about the glories of Rome or its monuments. See Fisher, Med. Empire, II. 229.

In 1115, in company with twelve companions, Bernard founded Clairvaux—Claravallis, Clear Valley—in a locality which before had been called Wormwood, and been the seat of robbers. William of St. Thierry, Bernard’s close friend and biographer, is in doubt whether the name vallis absinthialis came from the amount of wormwood which grew there or from the bitter sufferings sustained by the victims of the robbers.635635    Vita prima, I. 5. up their simple house. Then he says, "the hills began to distil sweetness, and fields, before sterile, blossomed and became fat under the divine benediction."636636    Apud vallem quae prius dicebatur vallis absinthialis et amara, coeperunt montes stillare dulcedinem, etc. Vita prima, XIII. 61; Migne, 185, 260. See also Alanus, Vita secunda, VI. 18.

In this new cloistral retreat Bernard preached, wrought miracles, wrote innumerable letters,637637    His letters include long compositions abounding in allegory and moralizations and brief pithy statements, which approach the subject in hand with modern directness. Alanus gives a list of churchmen high in position going forth from Clairvaux. Vita secunda, XX. 54; Migne, 185, 154 received princes and high ecclesiastics. From there he went forth on errands of high import to his age. The convent soon had wide fame, and sent off many shoots.638638    Vacandard, vol. II., Appendix, gives a list of sixty-eight convents founded by Bernard.

William of St. Thierry639639    William was born at Liège about 1085, and died about 1149. In 1119 he was made abbot of the Cistercian convent of Thierry near Rheims. We meet him frequently in the company of Bernard, and in the controversies over Abaelard and Gilbert of Poitiers.stance compels a feeling of rest. William says: —


I tarried with him a few days, unworthy though I was, and whichever way I turned my eyes, I marvelled and thought I saw a new heaven and a new earth, and also the old pathways of the Egyptian monks, our fathers, marked with the recent footsteps of the men of our time left in them. The golden ages seemed to have returned and revisited the world there at Clairvaux.... At the first glance, as you entered, after descending the hill, you could feel that God was in the place; and the silent valley bespoke, in the simplicity of its buildings, the genuine humility of the poor of Christ dwelling there. The silence of the noon was as the silence of the midnight, broken only by the chants of the choral service, and the sound of garden and field implements. No one was idle. In the hours not devoted to sleep or prayer, the brethren kept busy with hoe, scythe, and axe, taming the wild land and clearing the forest. And although there was such a number in the valley, yet each seemed to be a solitary.640640    Vita prima, I. 7; Migne, 182, 268.


Here is another description by the novice, Peter de Roya, writing from Clairvaux:641641    The genuineness of the letter is questionable. Ep., 492; Migne, 182, 706-713.


"Its monks have found a Jacob’s ladder with angels upon it, descending to provide help to the bodies of the monks that they fail not in the way, and also ascending, and so controlling the monks’ minds that their bodies may be glorified. Their song seems to be little less than angelic, but much more than human.... It seems to me I am hardly looking upon men when I see them in the gardens with hoe, in the fields with forks and rakes and sickles, in the woods with axe, clad in disordered garments—but that I am looking on a race of fools without speech and sense, the reproach of mankind. However, my reason assures me that their life is with Christ in the heavens."


Bernard, to whom monastic seclusion was the highest ideal of the Christian life, bent his energies to induce his friends to take the vow. Its vigils and mortifications were the best means for developing the two cardinal virtues of love and humility.642642    Ep., 142; Migne, 182, 297.t of Nursia. Humblina was married to a husband of rank and had a family. When she appeared one day at Clairvaux, Bernard refused to go down to see her, for he had insisted before on her taking the veil and she had declined. Now she finally communicated to him the bitter cry, "If my brother despises my body, let not the servant of God despise my soul."643643    Si despicit frater meus carnem meam, ne despiciat servus Dei animam meam. Veniat, proecipiat, quicquid praecperit, facere parata sum. Vita secunda, VII. 22; Migne, 185, 482. Was ever sister’s appeal more tender?sehold, Humblina, after two years, and with her husband’s consent, retired to the convent of Juilly, where she spent the remainder of her days.

Bernard’s attack upon the conventual establishment of Cluny was born of mistaken zeal. If of the two men Peter the Venerable appears to much better advantage in that controversy, it was different when it came to the treatment of the Jews. Here Peter seems to have completely laid aside his mild spirit, while Bernard displays a spirit of humaneness and Christian charity far beyond his age. In the controversy with Abaelard, a subject which belongs to another chapter, the abbot of Clairvaux stands forth as the churchman who saw only evil in views which did not conform strictly to the doctrinal system of the Church.

Bernard was a man of his age as well as a monastic. He fully shared the feelings of his time about the Crusades. In 1128, at the Synod of Troyes, his voice secured recognition for the Knight Templars, "the new soldiery." The ignoble failure of the Second Crusade, which he had preached with such warmth, 1146, called forth from him a passionate lament over the sins of the Crusaders, and he has given us a glimpse into the keen pangs he felt over the detractions that undertaking called forth.644644    De consideratione, II. 1; Migne, 182, 743.t his fault. He himself was like Moses, who led the people towards the Holy Land and not into it. The Hebrews were stiff-necked. Were not the Crusaders stiff-necked also and unbelieving, who in their hearts looked back and hankered after Europe? Is it any wonder that those who were equally guilty should suffer a like punishment with the Israelites? To the taunt that he had falsely represented himself as having delivered a message from God in preaching the Crusade, he declared the testimony of his conscience was his best reply. Eugenius, too, could answer that taunt by what he had seen and heard. But, after all was said, it was a great honor to have the same lot with Christ and suffer being unjustly condemned (Ps. 69:9).

When, at a later time, Bernard was chosen at Chartres to lead another Crusade, the choice was confirmed by the pope, but the Cistercians refused to give their consent.645645    Bernard refers to this election in a letter to Eugenius, Ep., 256. "Who am I," he writes, "to establish camps and march at the head of armed men?"

In the reigns of Innocent II. and Eugenius III. Bernard stood very near the papacy. He did more than any other single individual to secure the general recognition of Innocent II. as the rightful pope over his rival, Anacletus II. He induced the king of France to pronounce in favor of Innocent. Bent on the same mission, he had interviews with Henry I. of England at Chartres, and the German emperor at Liége. He entertained Innocent at Clairvaux, and accompanied him to Italy. It was on this journey that so profound were the impressions of Bernard’s personality and miracles that the people of Milan fell at his feet and would fain have compelled him to ascend the chair of St. Ambrose. On his third journey to Rome, in 1138,646646    It was on this journey that St. Bernard performed the miracle which has a humorous side. While he was crossing the Alps, the devil broke one of his carriage wheels. Bernard repaired the damage by commanding the devil to take the place of the broken wheel, which he did, and the wagon moved on again to the traveller’s comfort. the ark for the Church, in which Innocent, all the religious orders, and all Europe were found except Anacletus and his two supporters, Roger of Sicily and Peter of Pisa. But an attempt, he said, was being made to build another ark by Peter of Pisa. If the ark of Innocent was not the true ark, it would be lost and all in it. Then would the Church of the East and the Church of the West perish. France and Germany would perish, the Spaniards and the English would perish, for they were with Innocent. Then Roger, alone of all the princes of the earth, would be saved and no other.647647    Vita prima, II. 7, 45; Migne, 185, 294 sq.

Eugenius III. had been an inmate of Clairvaux and one of Bernard’s special wards. The tract de consideratione648648    Migne, 182, 727-808.d functions is unique in literature, and, upon the whole, one of the most interesting treatises of the Middle Ages. Vacandard calls it "an examination, as it were, of the pope’s conscience."649649    "Une sorte d’examen de conscience d’un pape." Vie de S. Bernard, II. 454.s "most holy father," and whom he loves so warmly, that he would follow him into the heavens or to the depths, whom he received in poverty and now beholds surrounded with pomp and riches. Here he pours out his concern for the welfare of Eugenius’s soul and the welfare of the Church under his administration. He adduces the distractions of the papal court, its endless din of business and legal arbitrament, and calls upon Eugenius to remember that prayer, meditation, and the edification of the Church are the important matters for him to devote himself to. Was not Gregory piously writing upon Ezekiel while Rome was exposed to siege from the barbarians! Teacher never had opportunity to impress lessons upon a scholar more elevated in dignity, and Bernard approached it with a high sense of his responsibility.650650    Bernard’s view of the functions of the papacy is given in the chapter on the Papacy.

As a preacher, Bernard excels in the glow of his imagination and the fervor of his passion. Luther said, "Bernard is superior to all the doctors in his sermons, even to Augustine himself, because he preaches Christ most excellently."651651    Bindseil, Colloquia, III. 134.652652    Deutsch, Herzog, II. 634, says Er besass eine Bibelerkenntniss wie wenige.pulses of the religious nature. His discourse on the death of his brother Gerard is a model of tender treatment653653    For translation see Morison, p. 227 sqq., who calls it, "among funeral sermons assuredly one of the most remarkable on record."654654    See Dr. Storrs’s description, p. 461 sqq.gory, but also in burning love to the Saviour. One of the most brilliant of modern pulpit orators has said, "the constant shadow of things eternal is over all Bernard’s sermons."655655    Storrs, p. 388.nditions of his hearers. To rustic people he preached as though he had always been living in the country and to all other classes as though he were most carefully studying their occupations. To the erudite he was scholarly; to the uneducated, simple. To the spiritually minded he was rich in wise counsels. He adapted himself to all, desiring to bring to all the light of Christ.656656    Vita prima, III. 13; Migne, 185, 306,

The miraculous power of Bernard is so well attested by contemporary accounts that it is not easy to deny it except on the assumption that all the miraculous of the Middle Ages is to be ascribed to mediaeval credulity. Miracles meet us in almost every religious biographer of the Middle Ages. The biographer of Boniface, the apostle of Germany, found it necessary to apologize for not having miracles to relate of him. But the miracles of Bernard seem to be vouched for as are no other mediaeval works of power. The cases given are very numerous. They occurred on Bernard’s journeys in Toulouse and Italy, nearer home in France, and along the Rhine from Basel northward. William of St. Thierry, Gaufrid, and other contemporaries relate them in detail. His brothers, the monks Gerard and Guido, agree that he had more than human power. Walter Map, the Englishman who flourished in the latter years of Bernard’s life and later, speaks in the same breath of Bernard’s miracles and his eloquence.657657    I. 24, Wright’s ed., p. 20.ld by saintly men and also by deceivers, but he was conscious neither of saintliness nor of fraud.658658    Ego mihi nec perfectionis conscius sum nec fictionis. Vita prima, III. 7; Migne, 185, 314 sq659659    Vita prima, I. 13; Migne, 185, 262.ed them that the truth had been made manifest in their midst through him, not only in speech but in power.660660    Ep., 242; Migne, 182, 436.ng them.661661    Verecundia, de consid. II. 1; Migne, 185, 744. The word used here is signa. See also Vita prima, I. 9; Migne, 185, 252.

These miracles were performed at different periods of Bernard’s life and, as has been said, in different localities. The bishop of Langres, a near relative, says that the first miracle he saw Bernard perform was upon a boy with an ulcer on his foot. In answer to the boy’s appeal, Bernard made the sign of the cross and the child was healed. A mother met him carrying her child which had a withered hand and crooked arm. The useless members were restored and the child embraced its mother before the bystanders.662662    William of St. Thierry, in Vita prima, I. 9; Migne, 186, 253.

Sometimes Bernard placed his hand upon the patient, sometimes made the sign of the cross, sometimes offered prayer, sometimes used the consecrated wafer or holy water.663663    Febricitantibus multis sanctus manus imponens et aquam benedictam porrigens ad bibendum, sanitatem o btinuit, etc., Migne, 185, 278.664664    The only case I have found which was not a case of healing in Bernard’s miracles occurred at the dedication of the church of Foigny, where the congregation was pestered by swarms of flies. Bernard pronounced the words of excommunication against them and the next morning they were found dead and people shovelled them out with spades.aching the Second Crusade, Hermann, bishop of Constance, with nine others kept a record of them, declaring the very stones would cry out if they were not recorded.665665    Vita prima, VI.; Migne, 185, 374 sqq.r he had uttered a prayer, she spoke. A lame man walked and a blind man received his sight.666666    Vita prima, IV. 5 sqq.; Migne, 185, 338-359. See Morison’s remarks, 372 sqq.667667    A strange story is told of Bernard’s throwing dice with a gambler. The stake was Bernard’s horse or the gambler’s soul. Bernard entered into the proposition heartily and won. The gambler is said to have led a saintly life thereafter. Gesta Romanorum, Engl. trans. by Swan, p. 317.

Abaelard and his pupil, Berengar, were exceptions to their age in expressing doubts about the genuineness of contemporary miracles, but they do not charge Bernard by name with being self-deceived or deceiving others. Morison, a writer of little enthusiasm, no credulity, and a large amount of cool, critical common sense, says that Bernard’s "miracles are neither to be accepted with credulity nor denied with fury."668668    Life of Bernard, p. 66. Dr. Morison died 1905.669669    Der Heilige Bernhard, I. 135-141; II. 92-95. See also Neander’s Ch. Hist, Engl. trans. IV. 256 sq., and seeks to explain them by the conditions of the age and the imposing personality of Bernard as in the case of those possessed with evil spirits.670670    "When such works," Neander says in his history, "appear in connection with a governing Christian temper actuated by the spirit of love, they may perhaps be properly regarded as solitary workings of that higher power of life which Christ introduced into human nature." These words are adopted by Dr. Storrs, who says "it cannot be doubted that a most extraordinary force operated through Bernard on those who sought his assistance." Life of Bernard, p. 199 sq.cles in the mediaeval convent and in the lives of eminent men like Norbert, not to speak of the miracles wrought at shrines, as at the shrine of Thomas à Becket and by contact with relics. On the other hand, there are few mortal men whom miracles would so befit as Bernard.

Bernard’s activity was marked, all through, by a practical consideration for the needs of life, and his writings are full of useful suggestions adapted to help and ameliorate human conditions. He was a student by preference, but there were men in his day of more scholastic attainments than he. And yet in the department of speculative and controversial theology his writings also have their value. In his work on the Freedom of the Will671671    De gratia et libero arbitrio.as lost by sin, and prevenient grace is required to incline the will to holiness. In his controversy with Abaelard he developed his views on the Trinity and the atonement. In some of his positions he was out of accord with the theology and practice of the Roman Communion. He denied the immaculate conception of Mary672672    Ep., 174; Migne, 182, 332.he opportunity is not afforded.673673    De baptismo aliisque questionibus.


Severe at times as Bernard, the Churchman, from the standpoint of this tolerant age seems to be, the testimonies to his exalted moral eminence are too weighty to be set aside. Bernard’s own writings give the final and abundant proof of his ethical quality. It shines through his works on personal religion, all those treatises and sermons which give him a place in the front rank of the mystics of all ages.674674    See chapter on Mysticism.

William of St. Thierry, himself no mean theological writer, felt that in visiting Bernard’s cell he had been "at the very altar of God."675675    Domus ipsa incutiebat reverentiam sui ac si ingrederer ad altare Dei, Vita prima, VII. 33; Migne, 185, 246.676676    Concordia, V. 38. See Schott, Die Gedanken des Abtes Joachim, Brieger’s Zeitschrift, 1902, 171.677677    Hildegard’s Works, Ep., 29; Migne, 197, 189. In his Memoir of St. Malachy, Bernard, as has been said, put, an image of his own beautiful and ardent soul."678678    Morison, p. 242.d visit he remained to die, 1148. Bernard wrote:—


"Though he came from the West, he was truly the dayspring on high to us. With psalms and hymns and spiritual songs we followed our friend on his heavenward journey. He was taken by angels out of our hands. Truly he fell asleep. All eyes were fixed upon him, yet none could say when the spirit took its flight. When he was dead, we thought him to be alive; while yet alive, we thought him to be dead.679679    Mortuus vivere et vivens mortuus putabatur, Vita St. Malachy, XXXI. 74; Migne, 185, 1116. Tender as he is to his Irish friend, Bernard described the Irish people as utter barbarians in that age.w was changed into joy, faith had triumphed. He has entered into the joy of the Lord, and who am I to make lamentation over him? We pray, O Lord, that he who was our guest may be our leader, that we may reign with Thee and him for evermore. Amen."


Bernard’s sense of personal unworthiness was a controlling element in his religious experience. In this regard he forms a striking contrast to the self-confidence and swagger of Abaelard. He relied with childlike trust upon the divine grace. In one of his very last letters he begged his friend the abbot of Bonneval to be solicitous in prayer to the Saviour of sinners in his behalf. His last days were not without sorrow. His trusted secretary was found to have betrayed his confidence, and used his seal for his own purposes. William of St. Thierry and other friends had been passing away. Bernard’s last journey was to Metz to compose a dispute between bishop Stephen and the duke of Lorraine. Deutsch, perhaps the chief living authority on Bernard, says: "Religious warmth, Genialitaet, is the chief thing in his character and among his gifts."680680    Herzog, II. 634.681681    Dogmengeschichte, III. 301. deceived by monkish pretension,—"Bernard loved Jesus as much as any one can."682682    Bindseil, Colloquia, III. 152. Bernhardus hat den Jesus so lieb als einer sein mag.


"Jesus, Thou Joy of loving hearts,

Thou Fount of life, Thou Light of men,

From the best bliss which earth imparts

We turn unfilled to Thee again."


The encomium of Bernard’s early biographer Alanus is high praise, but probably no man since the Apostles has deserved it more: "The majesty of his name was surpassed by his lowliness of heart,"683683    Vita secunda, XVII.; Migne, 185, 498.


vincebat tamen sublimitatem nominis humilitas cordis.


« Prev St. Bernard of Clairvaux Next »
Please login or register to save highlights and make annotations
Corrections disabled for this book
Proofing disabled for this book
Printer-friendly version





Advertisements



| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |