BERNARD, SAINT (Iogo-1153), abbot of Clairvaux, was born at Fontaines, near Dijon, in France. His father, a knight named Tecelin, perished on crusade; and his mother Aleth, of the noble house of Mon-Bar, died while he was yet a boy. The lad's disposition directed him to the Church. His desire to enter a monastery was opposed by his relations, who sent him to study at Chalons in order to qualify for high ecclesiastical preferment. Bernard's resolution was not, however, shaken, and he joined the community which Robert of Molesmes had founded at Citeaux in 1098, carrying with him his brothers and many of his relations and friends. The little community, which had seemed on the point of extinction for lack of novices, thus gained a sudden new life, and grew so rapidly that it was soon able to send out offshoots. One of these daughter monasteries was Clairvaux, founded in 1115, and of this Bernard was appointed abbot.
Though nominally subject to Citeaux, Clairvaux soon became the most important Cistercian house, owing to the fame and influence of Bernard. His saintly character and his power as a preacher soon drew crowds of pilgrims to Clairvaux. His miracles were noised abroad, and sick folk were brought to be healed by him. Before long the abbot was drawn into the affairs of the great world. When, in 1124, Honorius II. became pope, Bernard was already reckoned among the greatest of French churchmen; he ne AT shared in important ecclesiastical discussions, and papal legates sought his counsel. Thus in 1128 he was invited by Car dinal Matthew of Albano to the synod of Troyes, where he obtained the recognition of the new order of Knights Templars, the rules of which he is said to have drawn up. The European importance of Bernard, however, began with the death of Pope Honorius II. (1130) and the disputed election that followed. In the synod convoked by Louis the Fat at Etampes in April 113o Bernard successfully asserted the claims of Innocent II. against those of Anacletus II., and henceforth became the most influ ential supporter of his cause. While Rome itself was held by Anacletus, France, England, Spain and Germany declared for Innocent, who, though banished from Rome, was—in Bernard's phrase—"accepted by the world." The pope travelled from place to place, with the abbot of Clairvaux at his side; he stayed at Clairvaux itself, and he went with Bernard to parley with the emperor Lothair III. at Liege.
In 1133, the year of the emperor's first expedition to Rome, Bernard was in Italy. He accompanied Innocent to Rome and successfully resisted the proposal to reopen negotiations with Anacletus, who, with the support of Roger of Sicily, was too strong to be coerced. Lothair, though crowned by Innocent in St. Peter's, could do nothing to establish him in the Holy See so long as his own power was sapped by his quarrel with the house of Hohenstaufen; so, in the spring of 1135, Bernard went to Bamberg and succeeded in persuading Frederick of Hohenstaufen to submit to the emperor. In June he was back in Italy, taking a leading part in the Council of Pisa, by which Anacletus was ex communicated. In northern Italy the effect of his preaching was immense; Milan itself surrendered to his eloquence, submitted to Lothair and to Innocent, and tried to force Bernard, against his will, into the vacant see of St. Ambrose. In 1137, the year of Lothair's last journey to Rome, Bernard was in Italy again, agitating with success against the antipope. Anacletus died on Jan. 25, 1138; on March 13 the cardinal Gregory was elected his successor, assuming the name of Victor. Bernard's crowning triumph was the abdication of the new antipope, the result of his personal influence, and he was now free to return to his monastery.
One result of Bernard's fame was the growth of the Cistercian order. Between 113o and 93 monasteries in connection with Clairvaux were either founded or affiliated from other rules. In 1145 a former monk of Clairvaux—another Bernard, abbot of Acquae Silviae, near Rome, was elected pope as Eugenius III. This was a triumph for the order; to the world it was a triumph for Bernard, who complained that all who had suits to press at Rome applied to him, as though he himself had become pope. (Ep. Having healed the schism within the Church, Bernard next attacked the enemy without. In Languedoc the preaching of Henry of Lausanne (q.v.) was drawing thousands from the faith. In June 1145 Bernard travelled in the south, and by his preaching did something to stem the flood of heresy. Far more important, however, was his activity in the following year, when, at the pope's command, he preached a crusade. The effect was extraor dinary. At the great meeting at Vezelay, on March 21, as the result of his sermon, King Louis VII. of France took the cross, together with a host of all classes. Bernard next travelled through northern France, Flanders and the Rhine provinces, everywhere rousing wild enthusiasm; at Spires, on Christmas day, he suc ceeded in persuading Conrad, king of the Romans, to join the crusade.
The lamentable outcome of the movement (see CRUSADES) was a hard blow to Bernard. The news of the disasters to the crusad ing host first reached him at Clairvaux, where Pope Eugenius, driven from Rome by the revolution associated with the name of Arnold of Brescia, was his guest. An effort was made to retrieve the disaster by organizing another expedition. At the invitation of Suger, abbot of St. Denis, Bernard attended the meeting at Chartres convened for this purpose, where he himself was elected to conduct the new crusade. He was saved from this task, for which he was wholly unfit, by the intervention of the Cistercian abbots, who forbade him to undertake it.
Bernard was now ageing, broken by his austerities and by ceaseless work, but his mental energy remained undimmed. He continued to take an active interest in ecclesiastical affairs, and his last work, the De Consideratione, shows no sign of failing power.
The age in which Bernard lived recognized in him the embodi ment of its ideal : that of mediaeval monasticism. The world had no meaning for him save as a place of banishment and trial, in which men are but "strangers and pilgrims." (Serm. Epiph. n. 1; Serm. vii., Lent. n. 1) ; the way of salvation had been marked out once for all, and the function of theology was but to maintain the traditional landmarks. With the subtleties of the schools he had no sympathy, and the dialectics of the schoolmen quavered into silence before his terrible invective. Yet, within the limits of his mental horizon, his vision was clear. His life proves with what merciless logic he followed out the principles of the Christian faith, as he conceived it; and it is impossible to say that he conceived it amiss. For all his zeal he was by nature neither a bigot nor a persecutor. Even when preaching the crusade he interfered at Mainz to stop the persecution of the Jews. As for heretics, "the little foxes that spoil the vines," these "should be taken, not by force of arms, but by force of argument," though, if any heretic refused to be thus taken, he considered "that he should be driven away, or even a restraint put upon his liberty, rather than that he should be allowed to spoil the vines" (Serm. lxiv.). He was troubled by the mob violence which made the heretics "martyrs to their unbelief," but oblivious to the precedent of the Pharisees, he ascribed the steadfastness of these "dogs" in facing death to the power of the devil (Serm. lxvi. on Canticles ii. 15).
This is Bernard at his worst. At his best he displays a nobility of nature, a wise charity and a genuine humility, that make him one of the most complete exponents of the Christian life. Hence his enduring influence. The author of the Imitatio drew inspira tion from him ; the Reformers saw in him a mediaeval champion of their favourite doctrine of the supremacy of grace; his works have been reprinted in countless editions. This is perhaps due to the fact that the source of his own inspiration was the Bible. He was saturated in its language and in its spirit ; and this saved him from the grosser aberrations of mediaeval Catholicism. He accepted the teaching of the Church as to the reverence due to Our Lady and the saints, but they were overshadowed in his mind by his idea of the grace of God and the moral splendour of Christ; "from Him do the Saints derive the odour of sanctity; from Him also do they shine as lights" (Ep. 464).
The cause of Bernard's popular success as a preacher can only imperfectly be judged by the sermons that survive. These were all delivered in Latin, evidently to congregations more or less on his own intellectual level. Like his letters, they are full of quo tations from the Bible, and they have all the qualities likely to appeal to men of culture. "Bernard," wrote Erasmus in his Art of Preaching, "is an eloquent preacher, much more by nature than by art; he is full of charm and vivacity, and knows how to reach and move the affections." The same is even more true of the letters. They are written on a large variety of subjects to people of the most diverse stations and types ; and they help us to under stand the adaptable nature of the man, which enabled him to appeal as successfully to the unlearned as to the learned.
Bernard's works fall into four categories :—(I) Letters, of great interest and value for the history of the period. (2) Trea tises: (a) dogmatic and polemical, De gratin et libero arbitrio, (c. 1127) following the lines laid down by St. Augustine: De baptismo aliisque quaestionibus ad mag. Hugonem de S. Victore: Contra quaedam capitala errorum Abaelardi ad Innocentem II. (in justification of the action of the synod of Sens) ; (b) ascetic and mystical, De gradibus humilitatis et superbiae, his first work (c. I i 2I ) ; De diligendo Deo (c. I I 26) ; De conversions ad clericos, an address to candidates for the priesthood ; De Consideratione, written c. 1148 at the pope's request for the edification and guidance of Eugenius III. ; (c) about monasticism, Apologia ad Gulielmum, written c. 1I27 to William, abbot of St. Thierry; De laude novae militiae ad milites templi (c. 1 132-36) ; De pre cepto et dispensatione, an answer to questions on monastic dis cipline addressed to him by the monks of St. Peter at Chartres (some time before 1143) ; (d) on ecclesiastical government, De moribus et officio episcoporum, written c. 1126 for Henry, bishop of Sens; the De Consideratione mentioned above; (e) a biography, De vita et rebus gestis S. Malacliiae, Hiberniae episcopi, written at the request of the Irish abbot, Congan, with the aid of mate rials supplied by him, and important for the ecclesiastical history of Ireland in the 12th century. (3) Sermons. (4) Hymns. Many hymns ascribed to Bernard survive, e.g., Jesu dulcis memoria, Jesus rex admirabilis, Jesu decus angelicum, which are included in the Roman breviary. Many have been translated and are used in Protestant churches.
The principal source for the life of St. Bernard is the Vita Prima, compiled by various contemporary writers. It is included in Migne, Patrolog. lat. clxxxv. pp. 225-416, which also contains the abridg ments or amplifications, by later hands, of the Vita Prima, known as the Vita Secunda, Tertia and Quarta. For a critical study of these sources see G. Huffer, Der heilige Bernhard von Clairvaux (Monster, 1886), and E. Vacandard, Vie de Saint Bernard (1895).
Among modern works on St. Bernard are S. J. Eales, St. Bernard, abbot of Clairvaux (189o) ("Fathers for English Readers" series) ; R. S. Storrs, Bernard of Clairvaux: the Times, the Man and His Work (New York, 1893) ; Comte d'Haussonville, Saint Bernard (1906).