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St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Bernard was born near Dijon, France in 1090. His parents were nobility and Bernard received anexcellent education; he was especially interested in poetry. He was devout from his youth and was noted for his tender devotion to the Blessed Virgin, but for a time underwent severe temptations. His mother died when he was nineteen and in 1113 Bernard joined the Abbey of Citeaux, bringing with him thirty other young noblemen, who also joined. This monastery had been founded by St. Robert in order to reform the Benedictine order which had grown lax; this branch of the order became the Cistercian order. In 1115, Bernard was sent to found the Abbey of Clairvaux. As abbot his fame for holiness and learning grew; he was called upon to settle numerous disputes across Europe and became friends with several bishops, popes, and other powerful persons, but he longed to be allowed to retire peacefully to his monastery and continue his writing. He wrote numerous theological and devotional treatises and spread the Cistercian order throughout Europe, founding 163 monasteries. He died in 1153 and was canonized 1174. He was named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius VIII. His feast day is August 20.

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