835G   Bernard of Clairvaux, Saint (1090 or 1091-1153).

Florum S. Bernardi nobiliorum libri X (auctore Guillelmo, S. Martini Tornacensis monacho). De quibusdam sermonibus venerabilis patris Bernardi.

Cologne : Johann Koelhoff, the Elder, 1482 (In this copy and in many copies, the arabic figures 82 have been added to the printed date ‘M.cccc.’, probably in the printing-shop ) $11,000


Folio 11 1/4 x 8 inches {j.6} a2-q8, r-s6, t-v8 v8 blank(.j.1, a1,blank ).This copy lacks 5 leaves of index and 2 blanks. Second edition, the  first  was printed in 1470.

ISTC 4 copies listed in the US The Newberry Library; Western Michigan Univ., Free Library of Philadelphia (-8 leaves); Library of Congress.

This is a very nicely rubricated copy with many large lombard initials in red and the capital stroked in red and each chapter has a leather tab, This copy is bound in original quarter dsc_0064calf over Oak Boards, the clasp has been lost but the remains of the leather flap and the brass catch remains.It has a vellum two scraps of early music as paste downs


Compiled from the works of Saint Bernard by Guilelmus Tornacensis, Benedictine monk. It’s hard to know how to characterize Bernard of Clairvaux. On the one hand, he is called dsc_0072the “honey-tongued doctor” for his eloquent writings on the love of God. On the other hand, he rallied soldiers to kill Muslims. He wrote eloquently on humility; then again, he loved being close to the seat of power and was an adviser to five popes. What Bernard is remembered for today, more than his reforming zeal and crusade preaching, is his mystical writings. His best known work is On Loving God, in which he states his purpose at the beginning: “You wish me to tell you why and how God should be loved. My answer is that God himself is the reason he is to be loved.”

dsc_0068His other great literary legacy is Sermons on the Song of Songs, 86 sermons on the spiritual life that, in fact, only tangentially touch on the biblical text. One passage in dsc_0070particular speaks aptly to Bernard’s lifelong passion to know God (and, likely, the temptations that troubled him).

After the death of his mother, fearing the snares and temptations of the world, he resolved to embrace the newly established and very austere institute of the Cistercian Order, of which he was destined to become the greatest ornament. He also persuaded his brothers and several of his friends to follow his example. In 1113, St. Bernard, with thirty young noblemen, presented himself to the holy Abbot, St. Stephen, at Citeaux. After a novitiate spent in great fervor, he made his profession in the following year. His superior soon after, seeing the great progress he had made in the spiritual life, sent him with twelve monks to found a new monastery, which afterward became known as the celebrated Abbey of Clairvaux. St. Bernard was at once appointed Abbot and began that active life which has rendered him the most conspicuous figure in the history of the 12th century. He founded numerous other monasteries, composed a number of works and undertook many journeys for the honor of God. Several Bishoprics were offered him, but he refused them all. The reputation of St. Bernard spread far and wide; even the Popes were governed by his advice. He was commissioned by Pope Eugene III to preach the second Crusade. In obedience to the Sovereign Pontiff he traveled through France and Germany, and aroused the greatest enthusiasm for the holy war among the masses of the population. The failure of the expedition raised a great storm against the saint, but he attributed it to the sins of the Crusaders. St. Bernard was eminently endowed with the gift of miracles. He died on August 20, 1153. His feast day is August 20.


Goff B389 ; Bod-inc,; B-178; GW; 3929; Hain-Copinger; 2926*; ISTC,; ib00389000; O

U.S.A: Chicago IL, The Newberry Library; U.S.A: Chicago IL, The Newberry Library; Kalamazoo MI, Western Michigan Univ., Inst. of Cistercian Studies (no longer there); Philadelphia PA, Free Library of Philadelphia (-8 leaves); Washington DC, Library of Congress, Rare Book Division Philadelphia PA, Free Library of Philadelphia (-8 leaves); Washington DC, Library of Congress, Rare Book Division.



Other  works of St. Bernard are as follows:

dsc_0073“De Gradibus Superbiae”, his first treatise;
“Homilies on the Gospel ‘Missus est'” (1120);
“Apology to William of St. Thierry” against the claims of the monks of Cluny;
“On the Conversion of Clerics”, a book addressed to the young ecclesiastics of Paris (1122);
“De Laudibus Novae Militiae”, addressed to Hughes de Payns, first Grand Master and Prior of Jerusalem (1129). This is a eulogy of the military order instituted in 1118, and an exhortation to the knights to conduct themselves with courage in their several stations.
“De amore Dei” wherein St. Bernard shows that the manner of loving God is to love Him without measure and gives the different degree of this love;
“Book of Precepts and Dispensations” (1131), which contains answers to questions upon certain points of the Rule of St. Benedict from which the abbot can, or cannot, dispense;
“De Gratiâ et Libero Arbitrio” in which the Catholic dogma of grace and free will is proved according to the principles of St. Augustine;
“Book of Considerations”, addressed to Pope Eugenius III;
“De Officiis Episcoporum”, addressed to Henry, Archbishop of Sens.
His sermons are also numerous:

“On Psalm 90, ‘Qui habitat'” (about 1125);
“On the Canticle of Canticles”. St. Bernard explained in eighty-six sermons only the first two chapters of the Canticle of Canticles and the first verse of the third chapter.
There are also eighty-six “Sermons for the Whole Year”; his “Letters” number 530.
Many other letters, treatises, etc., falsely attributed to him are found among his works, such as the “l’Echelle du Cloître”, which is the work of Guigues, Prior of La Grande Chartreuse, les Méditations, l’Edification de la Maison intérieure, etc


The Cistercians

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

by M. Basil Pennington OCSO


The Young Abbot

Bernard, the founding abbot of Clairvaux Abbey in Burgundy, was one of the most commanding Church leaders in the first half of the twelfth century as well as one of the greatest spiritual masters of all times and the most powerful propagator of the Cistercian reform. He was born in Fontaines-les-Dijon in 1090 and entered the Abbey of Citeaux in 1112, bringing thirty of his relatives with him, including five of his brothers-- his youngest brother and his widowed father followed later. After receiving a monastic formation from St. Stephen Harding, he was sent in 1115 to begin a new monastery near Aube: Clairvaux, the Valley of Light. As a young abbot he published a series of sermons on the Annunciation. These marked him not only as a most gifted spiritual writer but also as the "cithara of Mary," especially noted for his development of Mary's mediatorial role.

The Peacemaker

Bernard's spiritual writing as well as his extraordinary personal magnetism began to attract many to Clairvaux and the other Cistercian monasteries, leading to many new foundations. He was drawn into the controversy developing between the new monastic movement which he preeminently represented and the established Cluniac order, a branch of the Benedictines. This led to one of his most controversial and most popular works, his Apologia. Bernard's dynamism soon reached far beyond monastic circles. He was sought as an advisor and mediator by the ruling powers of his age. More than any other he helped to bring about the healing of the papal schism which arose in 1130 with the election of the antipope Anacletus II. It cost Bernard eight years of laborious travel and skillful mediation. At the same time he labored for peace and reconciliation between England and France and among many lesser nobles. His influence mounted when his spiritual son was elected pope in 1145. At Eugene III's command he preached the Second Crusade and sent vast armies on the road toward Jerusalem. In his last years he rose from his sickbed and went into the Rhineland to defend the Jews against a savage persecution.

The Writer

Although he suffered from constant physical debility and had to govern a monastery that soon housed several hundred monks and was sending forth groups regularly to begin new monasteries (he personally saw to the establishment of sixty-five of the three hundred Cistercian monasteries founded during his thirty-eight years as abbot), he yet found time to compose many and varied spiritual works that still speak to us today. He laid out a solid foundation for the spiritual life in his works on grace and free will, humility and love. His gifts as a theologian were called upon to respond to the dangerous teachings of the scintillating Peter Abelard, of Gilbert de la Porree and of Arnold of Brescia. His masterpiece, his Sermons on the Song of Songs, was begun in 1136 and was still in composition at the time of his death. With great simplicity and poetic grace Bernard writes of the deepest experiences of the mystical life in ways that became normative for all succeeding writers. For Pope Eugene he wrote Five Books on Consideration, the bedside reading of Pope John XXIII and many other pontiffs through the centuries.

Doctor of the Church

Bernard died at Clairvaux on 20 August 1153. He was canonized by Pope Alexander III on 18 January 1174. Pope Pius VII declared him a Doctor of the Church in 1830.

--from The Modern Catholic Encyclopedia 
(A Michael Glazier Book), Liturgical Press (1995) 82.
Ms. illustration of St. Bernard from the O. Cist. website in Rome.


Web Text:

Bernard, of Clairvaux, St. (1090-1153). On Loving God (Christian Classics Ethereal Library).


OSB Index | The Cistercians