Saint Bernard of Clairvaux was born in the year 1091. When he was twenty-two years old, he joined the Cistercian Order at Citeaux. He brought with him thirty companions, among whom were his father, his uncle and four of his brothers. His mother was dead. A short time later, he was sent to be the abbot and founder of a monastery at Clairvaux. He founded one hundred and sixty-three houses of his Order. He preached the Second Crusade to send Christians out to fight as soldiers against the Turks and stop the horrible things they were doing to Christian lands and Christian shrines and Christian customs and Christian peoples
It is said of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux that he “carried the twelfth century on his shoulders.” His great and intense devotion was to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. Saint Bernard wrote the lovely prayer to Our Lady called the Memorare, which begins, “Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession, was left unaided.” It was Saint Bernard who added to the prayer, “Hail, holy Queen,” the invocation “O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!”
Saint Bernard calls Our Lady, “Mother of Life” and “Mother of Salvation.” He says that as through her we received God, so through her God must receive us. As Saint Benedict, in his humility, refused ever to become a priest, so Saint Bernard, in his humility, refused ever to become a bishop. He was offered three bishoprics, each of which he declined. He is often portrayed in art with three mitres at his feet.
See also: Sermon of Saint Bernard