Bernard de Clairvaux, Saint

Bernard de Clairvaux, Saint

biographical name

(born 1090, probably Fontaine-les-Dijons, near Dijon, Burgundy—died Aug. 20, 1153, Clairvaux, Champagne; canonized 1174; feast day August 20) French Cistercian monk, mystic, and doctor of the church. Born into an aristocratic family near Dijon, he turned away from a literary education for the monastic life, entering the austere religious community at CĂ®teaux in 1112. As abbot of the Cistercian monastery at Clairvaux, Champagne, which he founded in 1115, he helped establish the widespread popularity of the order. Between 1130 and 1145 he mediated civil and ecclesiastical councils and theological debates, and his support for Pope Innocent II helped secure the papacy during the schism with Anacletus. Bernard was the confidant of five popes and became perhaps the most renowned religious figure in Europe. He actively preached the Second Crusade and wrote a number of sermons on the Song of Solomon. He opposed the teachings of Peter Abelard and Henry of Lausanne and defended devotion to the Virgin Mary.

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