St. Bernard was born in 1090, to parents Tescelin de Fontaine, Lord of Fontaine-les-Dijon and Alethe de Montbard of high French nobility in the Burgundy region.
Aged nine, Bernard attended Chatillon-sur-Seine school. In 1109 at the age of nineteen his mother died.
The young Bernard, felt he had been called by God in 1112, aged just twenty-two, to enter the order of Cistercian Monks of Citeaux. Bernard’s testimony was so compelling, some thirty friends and brothers felt compelled to follow him into monastic life in 1113.
The Abbey of Citeaux, founded by St. Robert of Molesmes was dedicated to the restoring of Benedictine Rule in its most primitive form. A life devoted to prayer and poverty.
After three years as a monk, St. Bernard and twelve monks were sent to Vallee d’Absinthe in the Diocese of Langres; where he founded the Abbey of Clairvaux. In 1116, he was named Abbot of Clairvaux. In just a few years, disciples and monks were flocking to St. Bernard, wishing to follow the renowned Abbot; St. Bernard of Clairvaux.
In 1128, St. Bernard was called upon by Pope Honorius II to attend the Council of Troyes, to assist in the settling of conflicts within the French church. He offended Cardinals by his suggestions, who denounced him, as nothing more than a meddling monk, yet his words struck a chord with Cardinal Harmeric and the Papal Court, which led to a strong bond between St. Bernard and the Pope.
St. Bernard this man of God was becoming a renowned churchman in Christendom, as he assisted in correcting abuses within the faith. Defending church rights against the monarchy who sought to control its resources, and choose their own bishops.
In 1143, St. Bernard must have been a proud man, to see one of his pupils and fellow Cistercian Monk; Bernard of Pisa elected by his peers as Pope, taking the name; “Pope Eugenius III.”
Within a few years, news came from the Holy Land that shocked the Christian world. The crusader state of Edessa had fallen to Turkish forces, with Antioch and Jerusalem highly likely to fall into Islam control once again.
St.Bernard will be remembered for calling for the founding of the Knights Templar, and he was responsible for the monastic rules of life they would follow.
St. Bernard was put in charge of rallying support for a new crusade, asking knights to arm themselves and wear the cross, showing they be God’s warriors. He even cut off pieces of his own habit, and fashioned crosses for many warriors. It is said that King Louis, Queen Eleanor of France and the Holy Roman Emperor; Frederick Barbarossa accepted these cloth crosses.
The Second Crusade was a failure, and he attributed the defeat, believing the crusaders no longer believed in securing the Holy Land. He believed it be the sinfulness of the crusaders that led to its failure.
On the 21st August 1153, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, aged 63 died at Clairvaux in France.
At his death, some 343 Cistercian monasteries had been established by him and fellow monks of his order.
In 1174 was canonized by Pope Alexander III.
In 1830, was named doctor of the church by Pope Pius VIII.