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Ordinary Time: August 20th

Memorial of St. Bernard, abbot and doctor

Daily Readings for: August 20, 2012
(Readings on USCCB website)

Collect: O God, who made the Abbot Saint Bernard a man consumed with zeal for your house and a light shining and burning in your Church, grant, through his intercession, that we may be on fire with the same spirit and walk always as children of light. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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Old Calendar: St. Bernard

St. Bernard (1090-1153) was born near Dijon and died in Clairvaux, France. He was of a noble family and received a careful education in his youth. With his father, brother and thirty noblemen he entered the Benedictine monastery of Citeaux. Two years later he led a group of monks to establish a house at Clairvaux, and became its abbot. The monastic rule which he perfected at Clairvaux became the model for 163 monasteries of the Cistercian reform. He was a theologian, poet, orator, and writer. He is sometimes considered as a Father of the Church.


St. Bernard of Clairvaux
Bernard, the second founder of the Cistercians, the Mellifluous Doctor, the apostle of the Crusades, the miracle-worker, the reconciler of kings, the leader of peoples, the counselor of popes! His sermons, from which there are many excerpts in the Breviary, are conspicuous for genuine emotion and spiritual unction. The celebrated Memorare is ascribed to him.

Bernard was born in 1090, the third son of an illustrious Burgundian family. At the age of twenty-two he entered the monastery of Citeaux (where the Cistercian Order had its beginning) and persuaded thirty other youths of noble rank to follow his example. Made abbot of Clairvaux (1115), he erected numerous abbeys where his spirit flourished. To his disciple, Bernard of Pisa, who later became Pope Eugene III, he dedicated his work De Consideratione. Bernard's influence upon the princes, the clergy, and the people of his age was most remarkable. By penitential practices he so exhausted his body that it could hardly sustain his soul, ever eager to praise and honor God.

Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

Patron: beekeepers; bees; candlemakers; chandlers; wax-melters; wax refiners; Gibraltar; Queens College, Cambridge.

Symbols: beehive; bees; three mitres on a book; white dog; inkhorn and pen; Passion implements; fettered demon; book.
Often Portrayed As: Cistercian having a vision of Mary; Cistercian with a beehive; Cistercian with a chained demon; Cistercian with a mitre on the ground beside him; Cistercian with a swarm of bees nearby; Cistercian with a white dog; Cistercian writing and watching Mary.

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