1st Letter of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux to Saint Malachy of Armagh

[Saint Bernard of Clairvaux and Saint Malachy of Armagh]To Malachy. 1141.

To the venerable lord and most blessed father, Malachy, by the grace of God archbishop of the Irish, legate of the Apostolic See, Brother Bernard called to be abbot of Clairvaux, [desiring] to find grace with the Lord.

Amid the manifold anxieties and cares of my heart, by the multitude of which my soul is sore vexed, the brothers coming from a far country that they may serve the Lord, thy letter, and thy staff, they comfort me: the letter, as a proof of good will; the staff, to support my weak body; the brothers, because they serve the Lord in a humble spirit. We have received them all, we are pleased with all, all alike work together for good. But as to the wish that you have expressed that two of the brothers should be sent to look out a place for you beforehand, having taken counsel with the brothers, we have not thought it meet that they should be separated one from another until Christ be more fully formed in them, until they are wholly instructed in the battles of the Lord. When therefore they have been taught in the school of the Holy Spirit, when they have been endued with power from on high, then at length the sons shall return to their father that they may sing the Lord’s song, not now in a strange land, but in their own.

But do you yourselves in the mean time, according to the wisdom given you by the Lord, look out beforehand and prepare beforehand a place for them, like the places which you have seen here, apart from the commotions of the world. For the time is at hand when, by the operation of the grace of God, we shall bring forth for you new men out of the old. Blessed be the Name of the Lord for ever, of whose only gift it cometh that I have sons in common with you, whom your preaching planted and our exhortation watered, but God gave the increase. We beseech your holiness to preach the word of the Lord so that you may give knowledge of salvation unto His people. For a double necessity is laid upon you, both from your office as legate and your duty as bishop. Finally, since in many things we offend all, and, being often thrown among the men of this age, we are much besmirched with the dust of the world, I commend myself to your prayers and to those of your companions, that in His fountain of mercy Jesus Christ, himself the fountain of pity, may deign to wash and cleanse us, who said to Peter, If I wash thee not, thou shalt have no part with me. And, indeed, I not only earnestly entreat this of you, but also require it as in some sense the payment of a debt, since I cry to the Lord for you, if the prayer of a sinner can do anything. Farewell in the Lord.