Sunday, September 23, 2012

Bernard de Clairvaux

When I was researching the Templar Knights for my historical mystery, The Templar and the True Cross, I came across the name Bernard de Clairvaux. He was born in 1091, in his fa­ther’s cast­le at Les Fon­taines (near Di­jon), Bur­gun­dy. Bernard entered a Cistercian monastery in 1113. On the first page of my book, I quote Bernard de Clairvaux:

It seems that a new knighthood has recently
appeared on earth . . .
. . . a new kind of knighthood and one unknown
to the ages gone by. It ceaselessly wages a twofold
war both against flesh and blood and against a
spiritual army of evil in the heavens.

He is truly a fearless knight . . . for his soul is
protected by the armour of faith just as his body is
protected by the amour of steel. He is thus doubly
armed and need fear neither demons nor men. Not
that he fears death–no, he desires it.

Gladly and faithfully he stands for Christ . . . 

– Bernard de Clairvaux, c. 1135
De Laude Novae Militae
In Praise of the New Knighthood

So impressed was I with this passage, that I modeled my hero, Sir Jean-Marc de Montpellier after what Bernard had written about the Templar knights.

I do not have room here to list all the accomplishments of Bernard de Clairvaux. What I will say is that he rose to em­i­nence in Church po­li­tics, and be­came em­broiled in the pa­pal schis­ms of the 12th Cen­tu­ry. He was well known in Rome, and found­ed 163 mon­as­ter­ies through­out Eur­ope. He died in 1153. The Ca­tho­lic En­cy­clo­pe­dia car­ries a large ar­ti­cle on him.

Bernard was a man of ex­cep­tion­al pi­e­ty and spir­it­u­al vi­tal­i­ty. Martin Luther 400 years lat­er, called him, “the best monk that ever lived, whom I ad­mire be­yond all the rest put to­ge­ther.”
The Templar and the True Cross

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