Feast of St Bernard of Clairvaux Reflection:
St Bernard is one of the towering forces of the church. His intellect and holiness were legendary long before he died and although he was a monk who wanted to spend his life in silence and solitude he was sent on missions all over Europe by the popes of the day.
Born in 1090 near Dijon in France, Bernard entered the Cistercians in 1111 at the age of 21. The new order was almost floundering and dying, they had made little progress since the orders foundation in 1098, but Bernard brought with him 20 other companions. Before his death he founded 65 monasteries.
Bernard is also well known for his devotion to Our Lady and his many sermons on her and her life. He saw in the Song of Songs a whole reflection of the life of Mary and the relationship between her, Jesus and the church.
We also have a local connection with Bernard. St Malachy of Armagh was a great friend of Bernard and while on his way back to Ireland from Rome in 1048, Malachy stopped at Clairvaux to visit his friend. He died during one of his visits and was buried in the grave reserved for Bernard. As they were preparing the body for burial Bernard took off his habit and put it on Malachy.
Within a year of two of Malachy’s death the first Cistercians arrived in Ireland, sent by Bernard, and they sat up their monastery at Mellifont in Louth.
Bernard was also the man who wrote the famous prayer to Our Lady, the Memorare, the one which begins… “Remember, Oh most gracious Virgin Mary that never was it known……”
Bernard was also a great thinker and teacher. He did important work on the teaching of the Love of God and how mankind comes to love God.
We would do well to study the life of Bernard; he is a great example of Christian living.
you made Saint Bernard burn with zeal for your house,
and gave him grace to enkindle and enlighten others in your Church.
Grant that by his prayer
we may be filled with the same spirit
and always live as children of the light.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen