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Bernard was born in 1090 in Dijon, France, the third son of Tescelin, the noble Lord of Fontaines, and Aleth, a daughter of the Lord of Montbard. He and his five brothers were well-educated and well-learned in Latin and military exercises, Bernard being educated with particular care by his parents, because, while yet unborn, a devout man had foretold his great destiny.

Bernard fought the temptations of youth with assiduous prayer and the practice of virtue, often to a heroic degree and, at an early age, determined upon a life of solitude. His ardent devotion to the Blessed Virgin, gave rise to some of the most sublime writings ever penned on the Queen of Heaven.

He studied the Holy Scriptures so intensely that the Word of God became as it were his own language. In the year 1112, Bernard left his home to join the monastery of Citeaux, which followed the very austere Cistercian rule. Bernard brought with him some thirty men, among them four of his brothers and an uncle, who had no previous thought of the religious life.

In 1115, the abbot of Citeaux sent Bernard and twelve monks to build a new house in the region of Champagne. The beginnings of what came to be known as Clairvaux, were trying and painful. The monks lived under their new abbot most poorly, surviving off what little the coarse land had to offer.

The austerities practiced were so severe that Bernard’s health was seriously impaired. Nevertheless, disciples flocked in droves to the new monastic community, and the monks soon numbered one hundred and fifty, among them his youngest brother and his own father.

Renowned for his wisdom, Bernard was often called upon by both Church and State authorities to settle disputes. He defended the rights of the Church against the encroachments of kings and princes and, in the schism that broke out in 1130, was chosen to judge between two rival popes. Until the death of the anti-pope in 1138, he was forced to leave the solitude of his cloister repeatedly by order of Pope Innocent II to combat the resurgence of the schism.

In 1139, heresy took the place of schism, and he was once again championing the Church’s cause in the public arena. The year 1145 saw one of Bernard’s Cistercian sons elevated to the throne of Peter. Pope Eugene III lost no time in calling for a new crusade against the Muslims and commissioned Bernard to preach the crusade throughout Europe. His preaching was accompanied by numerous miracles and thousands flocked to the Cross.

As Abbot of Clairvaux for forty years, he founded one hundred and sixty-three monasteries in different parts of Europe. At his death, they numbered three hundred and forty-three. Having brought the Order out of obscurity, he is considered one of the founders of the Cistercian Order.

Bernard spent the last several years of his life in great pain. He saw the death of his contemporaries as a warning of his own approaching end and prepared himself accordingly.

He died in 1153 and was canonized in 1174. Pope Pius VIII named Doctor of the Church in 1830.

 


 

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for April 19, 2021

He asked to die like a thief and steal Paradise....

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April 19

 

A dying man asked a dying man for eternal life. 
A man without possessions asked a poor man for a Kingdom. 
A thief at the door of death asked to die like a thief and steal Paradise. 
 
One would have thought a saint would have been the first soul 
purchased over the counter of Calvary by the red coins of Redemption. 
 

But in the Divine plan it was a thief 
who was the escort of the King of kings 
into Paradise.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

 
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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Alphege of Canterbury

Alphege hastened to the defense of his people, and pressing...

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St. Alphege of Canterbury

As a youth, Alphege became a monk in the monastery of Deerhurst in Gloucestershire, England, afterwards an anchorite and later an abbot in a monastery in Bath. At thirty, at the insistence of St. Dunstan and to his great consternation, he was elected Bishop of Winchester. As bishop, he maintained the same austerity of life as when a monk. During his episcopate he was so generous toward the poor that there were no beggars left in the diocese of Winchester.

Alphege served twenty-two years as bishop of this see and was then translated to the see of Canterbury at the death of Archbishop Aelfric.

During this period, England suffered from the ravages of the Danes who joined forces with the rebel Earl Edric, marched on Kent and laid siege to Canterbury. When the city was betrayed, there was a terrible massacre, men and women, old and young, dying by the sword.

The Archbishop hastened to the defense of his people, and pressing through the crowd begged the Danes to cease the carnage. He was immediately seized, roughly handled, and imprisoned.

A mysterious and deadly plague broke out among the Danes, and, despite the fact that the holy prelate had healed many of their own with his prayers and by giving them blessed bread, the Danes demanded an exorbitant ransom for his release. As the Archbishop protested that the country was too poor to pay such a price, he was brutally assassinated.

St. Alphege was the first Archbishop of Canterbury to die a violent death. In 1023, the martyr's body was translated with great ceremony to Canterbury accompanied by the Danish King Canute. Although he did not die directly in defense of the Faith, St. Alphege is considered a martyr of justice.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

In the mountainous region of Trent in Germany, there lived a...

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The Robber Who Stole Heaven

In the mountainous region of Trent in Germany, there lived a notorious robber who made his living by bringing misfortune on others. His occupation being what it was, he would only increase his property by decreasing that of his victims.

One day, he was admonished by a local religious to change his course of life and thereby insure his eternal salvation. The only answer the robber gave was that for him there was no remedy.

"Do not say so," said the religious, "do what I tell you. Fast on each Saturday in honor of the Virgin Mary, and on that day of the week do no harm to anyone. She will obtain for you the grace of not dying in God’s displeasure.”

The robber thought to himself, “This is a small price to pay to insure my salvation; I will do as this holy man has prescribed.” He then obediently followed the religious’ advice, and made a vow to continue to do so. That he might not break it, from that time on he traveled unarmed on Saturdays.

Many years later, our robber was apprehended on a given Saturday by the officers of justice, and that he might not break his oath, he allowed himself to be taken without resistance. The judge, seeing that he was now a gray-haired old man, wished to pardon him.

Then the truly miraculous occurred. Rather than jump for joy thanking the judge for his leniency, the old robber, said that he wished to die in punishment of his sins. He then made a public confession of all the sins of his life in that same judgment hall, weeping so bitterly that all present wept with him.

He was beheaded, a death reserved for the nobility, rather than hanged. Then his body was buried with little ceremony, in a grave dug nearby.
Very soon afterwards, the mother of God came down from Heaven with four holy virgins by her side. They took the robber’s dead body from that place, wrapped it in a rich cloth embroidered with gold, and bore it themselves to the gate of the city.

There the Blessed Virgin said to the guards: "Tell the bishop from me, to give an honorable burial, in such a church to this dead person, for he was my faithful servant." And thus it was done.

All the people in the village thronged to the spot where they found the corpse with the rich pall, and the bier on which it was placed. And from that moment on, says Caesarius of Heisterbach, all persons in that region began to fast on Saturdays in honor of she who was so kind to even a notorious robber.

From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

In the mountainous region of Trent in Germany, there lived a notorious robber who made his living by bringing misfortune on others. 

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