Christian Cyclopedia

About the Cyclopedia

Bernard of Clairvaux

(1091–1153). “Doctor mellifluus.” Most influential man of his day; upright monk (see Cistercians), spending himself in ascetic practices. His wise rule as first and lifelong abbot (1115–53) of the cloister he founded at Clairvaux, France, served to extend the order (now also called Bernardines) throughout Eur., and the influence of his eloquence and personality gave a new impetus to monasticism. He ended the papal schism in favor of Innocent II. In controversy with rationalistic Abelard (1140) he stood for the equally false principle of mysticism. He preached the 2d Crusade (1146), which, contrary to his prophecy, did not sweep back the Mohammedans, but swept Eugene III into office. He was an eloquent preacher, able writer of theol. treatises, composer of beautiful hymns, universal mediator, adviser of pope and king and common man. Despite his exaltation of monachism as the ideal of Christianity, his excessive glorification of Mary (whose “immaculate conception,” however, he opposed), and his enthusiastic support of the papacy as the highest authority in the church, he was a sincerely pious, truly humble Christian, because he loved the Bible and because he believed in justification by faith, deploring on his deathbed, as throughout his life, the sinfulness of his life, and imploring the mercy of God for the sake of the righteousness gained by Christ-a psychological enigma indeed. Luther: “When Bernard is speaking of Christ, it is a pleasure indeed to listen to him; but when he leaves that subject and discourses on rules and works, it is no longer St. Bernard.” See also France, 2; Gilbert de la Porrée; Gottfried, 2; Humility; Hymnody, Christian, 4; Malachy; Mariology Mysticism, B; Peter the Venerable; Preaching, History of, 8; Scholasticism, 5; William of Saint-Thierry.

J. A. W. Neander, Der heilige Bernhard trod sein Zeitalter (Berlin, 1813), tr. M. Wrench, The Life and Times of St. Bernard (London, 1843); 2d Ger. ed. (Hamburg and Gotha, 1848); ed. S. M. Deutsch (Gotha, 1889); E. Vacandard, Vie de Saint Bernard, 2 vols. (Paris, 1895); H. Daniel-Rops, Bernard of Clairvaux (New York, 1964); E. H. Gilson, The Mystical Theology of Saint Bernard, tr. A. H. C. Downes (New York, 1955); MPL, 182–185.

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

Internet Version Produced by
The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod

Original Editions ©Copyright 1954, 1975, 2000
Concordia Publishing House
All rights reserved.

Content Reproduced with Permission

Stay Connected! Join the LCMS Network:

Contact Us Online
(Staff Switchboard)
(Church Info Center)
1333 S Kirkwood Rd
Saint Louis, MO 63122-7226 | Directions


Featured Publication

The Lutheran Witness

LCMS Communications

Interpreting the contemporary world from a Lutheran Christian perspective.
Visit TLW Online