Feastday of St. Bernard of Clairvaux

St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090 – 1153) was a Cistercian and a Doctor of the Church.  He is known as the Marian Doctor, and in an excellent article found on the website Our Lady of Medjugorje, author Cristina Palici explains:

Amongst the Doctors of the Church he is known as the Marian Doctor; not that he wrote lengthy pages dedicated to Our Lady, or revealed new theological dogmas on the Virgin of Nazareth, as Bernard’s writings on Mary aren’t even that many. However, all his writings and his own life were impregnated with her. Even when Bernard doesn’t speak of her, Mary is always present. We can see this in his writings in which he exhorts his brothers to silence, humility, purity of heart, and filial obedience: these are all virtues which, according to the saint, not only shine in Mary but are dispensed by her.

He thus merited the title of Marian Doctor because of his great love and filial devotion for the Mother of the Saviour. His writings were so appreciated that the Church inserted them in the Sacred Liturgy. Ending the day with a Salve Regina or some other Marian antiphony was his idea. St. Bernard had so much trust in her powerful intercession that he said: “God has wanted that we obtain nothing if not through the hands of Mary.” For St. Bernard “Mary is our mediatrix”; and we receive the Holy Spirit that “overflows from her.”

I would encourage you to read the complete article for a brief overview of St. Bernard’s loving relationship with, and thoughts on, Mary.
One of the most famous prayers attributed to St. Bernard is The Memorare, but I would also like to share with you today one which can be found in the Dictionary of Mary.  Upon reading it I could not help but think that St. Bernard would be in full support of the proclamation of the Fifth Marian Dogma:

Mary, Our Advocate

O Blessed Lady, you found grace, brought forth the Life, and became the Mother of salvation. May you obtain the grace for us to go to the Son. By your mediation, may we be received by the One Who through you gave Himself to us. May your integrity compensate with Him for the fault of our corruption; and may your humility, which is pleasing to God, implore pardon for our vanity. May your great charity cover the multitude of our sins; and may your glorious fecundity confer on us a fecundity of merits.

Dear Lady, our Mediatrix and Advocate, reconcile us to your Son, recommend us to Him, and present us to your Son. By the grace you found, by the privilege you merited, by the Mercy you brought forth, obtain for us the following favor, O blessed Lady.

May the One Who – thanks to you – came down to share our infirmity and wretchedness make us share – again thanks to you – His glory and beatitude: Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, Who reigns in heaven and is blessed forever!


4 Responses

  1. A lovely post, Gabrielle. The prayer you have selected is beautiful and the use of ‘thanks to you’ and ‘ again thanks to you’ reveals how much gratitude St Bernard attributes to Mary.
    At mass yesterday the priest mentioned that St Bernard is thought of by many as the father of monasticism.
    I didn’t know he wrote the Memorare – such a treasured prayer and one I particularly like to use when praying for priests. Nor did I know it was he who initiated the inclusion of the Salve Regina or similar Marian prayer into the night prayers of the Church.
    Thanks, Gabrielle, for the research – it is all very interesting and enlightening.

  2. Thanks, Ann, yet I’m afraid it’s just a skimming of the surface where St. Bernard is concerned (at least for now). There is so much to learn. The more I read in terms of Mariology the more I find out about all the saints who were devoted to her, even if it wasn’t the main thing we know about their lives.

  3. Hi Gabrielle! Your post is an insightful one. I just discovered yesterday that St. Bernard has deep impact on Mariology particularly on the Fifth Dogma Petition. Our Lady of All Nations has been with me from my conversion to Roman Catholicism. I was baptized Sep 15, 2002. Let’s pray for more enlightenment from the Holy Trinity as we honor the Bearer of Light – Our Lady, Our Mother.

  4. Thank you, Khristine. How beautiful to have had Our Lady of All Nations as your patroness since your coming into the Catholic church. I was just re-reading her prayer (in my left-hand sidebar) – how desperately the world needs to say that prayer now, every day, many times throughout the day…

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