Feast Day: August 20
Born: 1090 :: Died: 1153
Bernard was born in Dijon, in France. He had six brothers and sisters and they were very well educated. He was only 17 years old when his mother died and his heart was broken.
His lively sister Humbeline did not let him remain sad and she did whatever she could to cheer him up. Soon Bernard became a very popular man. He was handsome and intelligent, full of fun and good humor and people enjoyed being with him.
Then one day, Bernard surprised all his friends by telling them he was going to join the very strict Cistercian order and become a Priest. They did all they could to make him give up the idea. But in the end, Bernard convinced his brothers, an uncle and twenty-six friends to join him.
As Bernard and his brothers left their home, they said to their little brother Nivard, who was playing with other children: "Good-bye, little Nivard. You will now have all the lands and property for yourself." But the boy answered: "What! How can all of you go to heaven and leave me here on earth? Do you call that fair?"
And when Nivard was older he too joined his brothers in the monastery. St. Bernard became a very good monk. After three years, he was sent to start a new Cistercian monastery and to be its abbot (like a parish priest).
The new monastery was in the Valley of Light which in French is called "Clairvaux" and Bernard was the abbot there for the rest of his life.
Although he would have liked to stay working and praying in his monastery, he was called out sometimes for special work. He preached, made peace between rulers, and went to advise the Pope.
He also wrote beautiful spiritual books. He became very famous and people everywhere had great respect for him. But he did not want fame. More than anything else Bernard wanted to be a monk and be close to God.
This saint had a great devotion to the Blessed Mother. It is said that when he passed her statue, he often greeted her with a "Hail Mary." One day, the Blessed Mother returned his greeting: "Hail, Bernard!" And, Our Lady showed how much his love and devotion pleased her.
When St. Bernard died in 1153, people were sad because they would miss his wonderful presence in their life.
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