Saint Bernard of Clairvaux
St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) was one of seven children born to a noble family in Burgundy, France. All seven children, six sons and one daughter, were offered to the service of God by their devout mother. Before St. Bernard was born, a holy man foretold of his great sanctity. As a child Bernard was given an excellent education. He excelled at his studies, and also possessed a personal charm that attracted many people to him. He prayed about his vocation, and at the age of twenty-two left his worldly wealth to become a Cistercian monk. Four of his brothers joined him at the monastery in Citeaux, along with many others belonging to the Burgundian nobility. He later founded and became abbot of the Abbey of Clairvaux, which rapidly grew to over 700 monks and 160 daughter-houses. Bernard, with his natural charisma, was also a skilled arbiter and counselor who proved to be instrumental in the support of the true pope of Rome against the schism of a rival anti-pope. Bernard's reputation for holiness and piety was widely known. He traveled throughout Europe as a preacher and became one of the most famous and influential men of his century. He was a man of reform, and was effective in opposing the appointment of unworthy men to episcopal offices, while others reformed themselves at his censure. St. Bernard composed many theological works and wrote tenderly on devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. He is a Doctor of the Church, and the patron of beekeepers and candlemakers. His feast day is August 20th.
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