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Bernard of Clairvaux, Saint

virgin cistercian eloquent twelfth

Reviver and promoter of the Cistercian order, Bernard (c.1090–1153) exerted a profound and lasting influence on both religion and politics in the Middle Ages. An eloquent preacher (e.g., of the Second Crusade in 1146), famed for his pious austerity and mystical and devotional writings, Bernard joined the reformed Benedictines (Cistercians) at Citeaux c.1113 but left with twelve others, to establish the community at Clairvaux in 1115, from which, with papal support, numerous other communities Page 35  were established as the Cistercian order grew rapidly through the twelfth century. Bernard’s mystical and theological works (e.g., On the Love of God ), sermons , hymns, and his devotion to the Virgin *Mary were extremely influential in the development of later medieval mysticism and the growth of the cult of the Virgin. He was canonized in 1174 and appears in art from the late twelfth century onward, generally dressed as a monk in the white Cistercian habit, and carrying a book, abbot’s crozier, or *cross. He may be shown with a beehive, symbolizing his eloquent (mellifluous) speech. Narrative episodes from his life (visions of the Virgin, the Virgin nourishing Bernard with milk from her breast, combats with *demons, and his resistance of lustful temptations) are primarily found in the later and postmedieval periods.

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