St. Bernard (1090-1153) was an important medieval theologian and a major figure in the Cistercian Order of monks. He was one of six very gifted sons of a French nobleman.
After some hesitation, Bernard joined the Cistercian Order in 1111, persuading four of his brothers and twenty-seven of his friends to come with him. Several years later Bernard was sent to establish a new monastery at Clairvaux, which then prospered under his leadership and contributed greatly to the renewal of the Church.
St. Bernard was a prolific writer, in spite of his poor health, and his widespread fame brought him into a number of the religious controversies and disputes of the age. Though personally charitable and kind, he was a formidable opponent, and he spared no effort in attacking injustice (such as excessive luxury among the clergy or persecution of the Jews).
St. Bernard was a great theologian, and he particularly relied upon the Bible in his preaching and writing, “not so much,” he said, “to expound the words as to touch the people’s hearts.” Bernard was canonized only twenty-one years after his death in 1153, and in 1830 he was declared a Doctor (an eminent and reliable teacher) of the Church.