A Garner of Saints – Saint Bernard

painting of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, the church of Heiligenkreuz Abbey near Baden bei Wien, Lower Austria, by Georg Andreas WasshuberArticle

Born at Fontaine, near Dijon, in 1091. His parents had six sons, who all became monks, and one daughter, who took the veil. Though his mother dedicated all her children to God, she looked upon Bernard as one specially devoted. As he grew up Bernard determined to cure himself of carnal desires, and on one occasion he plunged into ice cold water to conquer temptation, and he afterwards exhibited many proofs of his unassailable chastity. After studying at Paris he entered the monastery of Citeaux. His devotion to the Virgin was always extreme, and on one occasion as he was writing his homilies his health was so feeble that he could scarcely hold the pen, when he received a vision of the Madonna who had come to comfort and restore him by her presence. At the age of twenty-five he was sent by the abbot to establish a new settlement of monks, and this led to the foundation of the abbey of Clairvaux. The abbey soon became famous throughout Christendom owing to his piety and ability. On one occasion, when his habit fell into the fire, he took it uninjured from the flames. Every morning he read to his monks some passage of Scripture, and addressed them upon it. The task of preaching the second crusade was entrusted to him by Pope Eugenius III, and his eloquence drew thousands to flock to the banner of the cross. His preaching took him to Spires, where he entered the cathedral, accompanied by the Emperor Conrad and a retinue of nobles and prelates, and there he knelt three times as he approached the altar. His sister, who had married a rich man, once came to visit her brothers in the monastery. She arrived in great pomp, and Bernard refused to see her. The other brothers also refused, and bursting into tears, she asked what she should do. Bernard then came with the other brothers, and told her to give up all worldly pomp, and imitate her mother. She returned and completely altered her way of life, and at length by her prayers, overcame her husband’s resistance. and entered a nunnery. Worn out by his labours, Bernard retired to his cell, and died in the year 1153, at the age of sixty-two. He wrote a number of theological works, and was at one time engaged in a lively controversy with Abelard. 20th August.


  • Wears the Cistercian habit and carries a cross in his hand, or else a book, papers, or pen and ink-horn.
  • Occasionally a fettered demon lies at his feet.

MLA Citation

  • Allen Banks Hinds, M.A. “Saint Bernard”. A Garner of Saints, 1900. CatholicSaints.Info. 17 April 2017. Web. 16 July 2018. <>