“You wish me to tell you why and how God should be loved. My answer is that God himself is the reason he is to be loved.”
(1090-1153) Born in France, Bernard was a Cistercian abbot and legendary speaker who fought for the peace and unity of the Church against schism. He wrote many treatises on the Blessed Virgin and Jesus Christ, as well as many works of theology and ascetism. His life manifested a profound recognition of the importance of obedience in one’s spiritual life.
Bernard’s spiritual writing as well as his extraordinary personal magnetism began to attract many to Clairvaux and the other Cistercian monasteries, leading to many new foundations. He was drawn into the controversy developing between the new monastic movement which he preeminently represented and the established Cluniac order, a branch of the Benedictines. This led to one of his most controversial and most popular works, his Apologia. Bernard’s dynamism soon reached far beyond monastic circles. He was sought as an advisor and mediator by the ruling powers of his age.
More than any other Bernard helped to bring about the healing of the papal schism which arose in 1130 with the election of the antipope Anacletus II. It cost Bernard eight years of laborious travel and skillful mediation. At the same time he labored for peace and reconciliation between England and France and among many lesser nobles. His influence mounted when his spiritual son was elected pope in 1145. At Eugene III’s command he preached the Second Crusade and sent vast armies on the road toward Jerusalem. In his last years he rose from his sickbed and went into the Rhineland to defend the Jews against a savage persecution.
Bernard died at Clairvaux on 20 August 1153. He was canonized by Pope Alexander III on 18 January 1174. Pope Pius VII declared him a Doctor of the Church in 1830. (http://www.osb.org/cist/bern.html)