BERNARD August 20
St. Bernard, often visited in visions by Our Lady, isusually shown in her presence, sometimes a beehive is introduced into his pictures, symbolising his eloquence and the sweetness of his disposition.
He is patron of beekeepers and wax-melters
BERNARD was one of seven children. His parents dedicated him at birth to the particular service of God-he was to be the brightest star in a firmament of brilliant lights. And indeed it happened so. His brothers and sisters, Blessed Guy, Blessed Gerard, Blessed Hurnbeline, Andrew, Bartholomew and Blessed Nivard, set a high enough standard of perfection; only Bernard with his rarer qualities of intellect. heart and character could have challenged it.
In adolescence Bernard's mother died. It was a great loss: Bernard became melancholy and depressed, his lively little sister, Humberline, roused him and with her instinct for making all around her happy. she launched him into a world ever ready to receive a young and handsome man of wit and intelligence.
Bernard's success with his tompanions was instant. All too easy perhaps for satisfaction and his thoughts turned to a harder. more worthwhile life. To Citeaux, the first monastery to follow the strict interpretation of the Benedictine rule, he intended to go. He consulted his brothers and friends who were at first opposed to the idea but Bernard's pleading had such a magnetic effect that the life began to appeal irresistibly to them Ma and when he entered the Cistercian order he took with Finn thirty-one others including all his brothers.
About Eastertime in 1112 Her
nard, then aged 22, presented himself and his company to Si. Stephen, the abbot of Citeaux. For two years he lived a hidden life in the monastery practising the hardest austerities. then he and twelve monks were sent out to found a new Cistercian house ip rough forestland known as the Valley of Wormwood. After a time Bernard fell dangerously ill and on recovery was forbidden to work any more in the fields. Instead he was to preach.
Bernard's sermons, and his writings won him the title of the "Floneysweet" Doctor. Although he longed for the life of the solitary and had entered an order to follow it, he was forced to go back into the world and even to lead it.
It was Bernard who was called in to resolve differences between princes and bishops; who publicly supported the true pope against the anti-pope; who toed to influence Peter Abelard: who was the advisor of Pope Eugenius; who saved Languedoc from heresy (until the time of St. Dominic); who preached the second cru.sade and was even elected to lead the Christian army to victory. But here illness intervened and Bernard died at Clairvaux, one of the many Cistercian foundations which he had made.
Iris Con lay