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BERNARD OF CLAIRVAUX (generally known as St. Bernard):

Church father; born 1091, near Dijon, France; died at Clairvaux Aug. 20, 1153. He was originally a monk of the Cistercian order at Citeaux; but, on being appointed abbot of Clairvaux, he founded a branch order known by his name, 160 monasteries of which came into existence during his life. He vigorously opposed Abelard in 1140, as well as the introduction of the dogma of the immaculate conception.

St. Bernard is distinguished for his activity in forming the second crusade in 1145-46, during which he traveled through France and Germany, preaching the crusade. One of the consequences of this was a succession of massacres of the Jews throughout the Rhine valley. This called forth an energetic protest by St. Bernard, which was sent to England, eastern France, and Germany (Bouquet, "Recueil," xv. 606). In this letter he laid down the general lines of policy with regard to the Jews by which the Roman Catholic Church has since been guided; and his arguments are those generally given, though without his name, in more recent pronouncements. According to St. Bernard, Jews are not to be disturbed or destroyed, because they are living symbols of the Passion; for which they are to be punished mainly by dispersion, so that they shall be witnesses. But they will ultimately be converted. How can this be if they are ground down? At the same time St. Bernard approves of the papal policy which declares that all usury on debts due by Crusaders shall lapse during their absence in the Holy Land.

Bibliography:
  • Neander, Der Heilige Bernhard und Sein Zeitalter, Berlin, 1813;
  • Cotter Morrison, Life and Times of St. Bernard, London, 1863;
  • literature cited in Herzog-Hauck's Real-Ency. ii. 623;
  • Grätz, Geschichte, vi. 148, 151.
G. J.
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