Bernard of Clairvaux


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Bernard of Clairvaux

Saint. ?1090--1153, French abbot and theologian, who founded the stricter branch of the Cistercians in 1115

Bernard of Clairvaux

 

(Bernardus abbas Clarae Vallis). Born 1090, at Fontaine, Burgundy; died Aug. 20, 1153, in Clairvaux. Figure in the Catholic Church, theologian, and mystic.

Bernard of Clairvaux came from a noble Burgundian family. At the age of 23 he became a monk of the Cistercian Order, and in 1115 he became abbot of the monastery that he founded in Clairvaux. He participated in the creation of the order of the holy knights, the Templars, and he inspired the Second Crusade (1147). He opposed the theological rationalism of P. Abelard and various heretical tendencies. Defending the firmness of church tradition and criticizing emerging Scholasticism for innovation, Bernard simultaneously gave sharply personal spirit to mysticism. Bernard’s mystical texts are characterized by lyricism and an attempt to expose the human ego. They exerted a strong influence on the mystical psychologism of the late Middle Ages (G. Bonaventure, H. Suso, and others). In 1174, Bernard of Clairvaux was canonized.

WORKS

Opera, vols. 1–6. Paris, 1855–59. (Patrologiae cursus compl., ser. latina . . . , vols. 182–185. Edited by J.-P. Migne.)
In Russian translation:
“Pis’ma.” In P. Abelard, Istoriia moikh bedstvii. Moscow, 1959. Pages 127–51.

REFERENCES

Ger’e, V. Zapadnoe monashestvo i papstvo. Moscow, 1913. Pages 27–138.
Sidorova, N. A. Ocherki po istorii rannei gorodskoi kul’tury vo Frantsii. Moscow, 1953.
Gilson, E. La théologie mystique de Saint Bernard. Paris, 1947.
Hiss, W. Die Anthropologie Bernhards von Clairvaux. Berlin, 1924.

S. S. AVERINTSEV

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Though Abelard does not always end up looking good in this biography, he is made more approachable, and certainly more likeable than Bernard of Clairvaux would have wanted him to be.