Bernard of Clairvaux
Feast Day: August 20
When there’s a job to get done, you don’t always win a popularity contest getting people to do their share. Especially if you think you’re right and everyone else (who doesn’t agree with you) is wrong. That pretty much describes Bernard of Clairvaux. He may not have had the most friends in the world, but he sure got things done!
Bernard grew up with wealthy parents who loved him and provided a good home for him. The family lived in France, and Bernard was born in 1090, just before the first Crusades.
When Bernard grew older, he trained to be a soldier but felt he could serve God better without killing people. He had some friends and family members who agreed with him. Bernard did an experiment with these family members and friends. He had them all live, work, and pray together in his parents’ home for about a year. His peacemaking skills were evident then and later.
At age 22 he became a monk and eventually an abbot at the Cistercian monastery of Clairvaux. His brothers and widowed father were among the many men who came to join the monastery, and there came a need to open other monasteries, even in other countries, to accommodate the numbers.
St. Bernard had a reputation for being very intelligent and very holy. His spiritual writing appealed to many, and his most popular work is Apologia. He even was consulted by popes and monarchs. At the time of his death in 1153 there were some 400 Cistercian monasteries in Europe, 163 of which he founded. He was canonized in 1174 and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1830. Without a doubt, Bernard’s true calling in life was to invite others to love God more deeply and more fully.
St. Bernard of Clairvaux is the patron saint of candlemakers.