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 Saints of the Season Fall 2017
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1090—1153) August 20
Bernard and his  ve brothers and one sister grew up in a castle near Dijon, France. His father was a knight who came from a famous family of brave knights and his mother was related to the dukes of Burgundy.
His mother hoped that Bernard would become a Church leader. He was very bright and showed an exceptional ability to move and persuade others. His siblings as well as other young people at court made him leader in their games and followed his good example. More important, Bernard himself felt the call to give his whole life to God. But Bernard wanted to be a monk—to live a life of strict poverty, prayer, and work.
When Bernard was 22, he entered a reformed branch of the Benedictines who called themselves Cistercians. The Cistercians, whose monastery was in Citeaux, wore habits made of coarse, scratchy cloth and ate the bare minimum of food.
With the arrival of Bernard, the community’s numbers increased not by one, but by thirty-one. He had already put his persuasive powers to work for the Cistercians. Thirty of his friends and relatives joined the community along with him. Soon many more young men from France and others parts of Europe were inspired to join the monks of Citeaux.
Three years later, the abbot sent Bernard, with twelve other monks, to found a new monastery at Bar-sur- Aube, the valley of Wormwood. Bernard and his companions renamed the valley Clairvaux, which means valley of light. The new monastery served as a beacon to young men throughout Europe. So many came that new monasteries had to be built. Bernard was eventually responsible for the founding of 163 monasteries in di erent parts of Europe.
Bernard, an excellent theologian and preacher as well as a powerful persuader, was often called from his monastery to help solve problems. He settled quarrels among princes and kings, confronted heretics, and defended Pope Innocent II against an anti-pope. In his travels, he met sick people who had heard of this saintly monk and wanted his blessing. Many claimed that they had been cured of their illness, that Bernard was a miracle worker.
In 1147, Bernard accepted the commission of Pope Eugenius III (a Cistercian monk and former pupil of Bernard’s) to preach the Second Crusade. Much to his sorrow, the Crusade ended in shame. Many of the knights sent to take back the Holy Land from the Turks behaved like barbarians, looting and pillaging and committing every kind of crime. Bernard grieved over that Crusade for the rest of his life. He died at Clairvaux on August 20, 1153. Bernard realized both his own dream and his mother’s dream for him. He was a simple monk and also a great leader of the Church—a saint and a Doctor of the Church.
         A Service of
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