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