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St Peter’s Anglican Church

St Bernard of Clairvaux - August 20

Abbot, Poet

St Bernard of Clairvaux

Bernard was born in 1090 in the castle at Fontaines, near Dijon. Learning came easily to this intelligent and handsome young man from a well-to-do family. A distinguished future seemed to lie ahead, but, while drawn to prayer in a time of uncertainty, he made the decision to surrender his life to the service of Jesus. He persuaded 30 companions, including several of his brothers, to join him. In 1112 they entered the nearby abbey at Cîteaux, which was in a state of utter poverty. Benedictine monasticism had been reformed in the tenth century, but Bernard wanted to go further. As a novice he demanded austerities of himself "beyond what was human", and his health broke down. Nevertheless, under Bernard's influence, Cîteaux became well known as a model monastery.

In 1115 Bernard was sent with 12 monks to establish a new monastery. He chose a site in the valley of the river Aube, which he renamed Clairvaux (Valley of Light), where he became abbot. At first, times were very hard, but by the time of his death it had become one of the chief centres of the Cistercian Order, with 700 monks.A further 320 abbeys had been founded all over Europe, including Britain. Read more...

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