Bernard of Clairvaux
- Christopher Holdsworth
(b nr Dijon, 1090; d Clairvaux, Aug 20, 1153; can 1174; fd 20 Aug).
French saint, Cistercian abbot, and writer. He was born into a noble family and spent most of his life at Clairvaux Abbey in southern Champagne. He became its first abbot in 1115, having entered Cîteaux, its mother house, in 1113. The Cistercians became the most successful monastic reform movement of the age. When Bernard died there were about 170 monasteries attached to Clairvaux, nearly half the Order’s total, their spread across Europe reflecting Bernard’s power to attract recruits and patrons. A superb orator and writer, he was involved in attacking heresy, ending a papal schism, and encouraging the Second Crusade.
The only place where Bernard wrote directly (but not extensively) on art and buildings was in his Apologia, addressed to his friend William of Saint-Thierry (c. 1075–1148), a Benedictine, whom he tried to reassure that Cistercian criticisms of other Benedictines were soundly based. Neither the traditional date of ...