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Monthly Reflection by
Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC
"Life in all its fullness“(John. 10,10)

- Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

Prayer of the Month

Saint Bernard


Saint Bernard
Feast Day - August 20


St. Bernard was born of noble parentage in Burgundy, France, in the castle of Fontaines near Dijon. He had six brothers and sisters and they were very well educated. Under the care of his pious parents he was sent at an early age to a college at Chatillon, where he was conspicuous for his remarkable piety and spirit of recollection. At the same place he entered upon the studies of theology and Holy Scripture.

He was only 17 years old when his mother died and his heart was broken.

His lively sister Humbeline did not let him remain sad and she did whatever she could to cheer him up. Soon Bernard became a very popular man. He was handsome and intelligent, full of fun and good humour and people enjoyed being with him.

Then one day, Bernard surprised all his friends by telling them he was going to join the very strict Cistercian order and become a priest. They did all they could to make him give up the idea. But in the end, Bernard convinced his brothers, an uncle and twenty-six friends to join him.

As Bernard and his brothers left their home, they said to their little brother Nivard, who was playing with other children: "Good-bye, little Nivard. You will now have all the lands and property for yourself." But the boy answered: "What! How can all of you go to heaven and leave me here on earth? Do you call that fair?"

And when Nivard was older he too joined his brothers in the monastery. St. Bernard became a very good monk. After three years, he was sent to start a new Cistercian monastery and to be its abbot (like a parish priest).

The new monastery was in the Valley of Light which in French is called "Clairvaux" and Bernard was the abbot there for the rest of his life. After the death of his mother, fearing the snares and temptations of the world, he had resolved to embrace the newly established and very austere institute of the Cistercian Order, of which he was destined to become the greatest ornament.

It was in 1113 that St. Bernard, with thirty young noblemen, presented himself to the holy Abbot, St. Stephen, at Citeaux. After a novitiate spent in great fervor, he made his profession in the following year. His superior soon after, seeing the great progress he had made in the spiritual life, sent him with twelve monks to found a new monastery, which afterward became known as the celebrated Abbey of Clairvaux.

St. Bernard was at once appointed Abbot and began that active life which has rendered him the most conspicuous figure in the history of the 12th century. He founded numerous other monasteries, composed a number of works and undertook many journeys for the honour of God. Several Bishoprics were offered him, but he refused them all.

The reputation of St. Bernard spread far and wide; even the Popes were governed by his advice. He was commissioned by Pope Eugene III to preach the second Crusade.
He traveled through France and Germany, and aroused the greatest enthusiasm for the holy war among the masses of the population. The failure of the expedition raised a great storm against the saint, but he attributed it to the sins of the Crusaders. St. Bernard was eminently endowed with the gift of miracles.

He died on August 20, 1153. His feast day is August 20.

Bernard died in the sixty-third year of his age, after forty years spent in the cloister. He founded one hundred and sixty-three monasteries in different parts of Europe; at his death they numbered three hundred and forty-three.

He was the first Cistercian monk placed on the calendar of saints and was canonised by Alexander III, 18 January 1174.

Pope Pius VIII bestowed on him the title of Doctor of the Church.

The Cistercians honour him as only the founders of orders are honoured, because of the wonderful and widespread activity which he gave to the Order of Cîteaux.

He is the patron saint of beekeepers, bees, candlemakers, chandlers, the Knights Templar, wax-melters and wax refiners.
 
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