Sunday, January 16, 2011

St. Bernard of Clairvaux and The Knights Templar

St. Bernard of Clairvaux is one of the most important figures in Templarism. At 23 years old, St. Bernard together with his brothers, cousins, and other relatives rode into the abbey of Citeaux, Dijon, a Cistercian monastery, which was run under the guidance of Stephen, later St Stephen Harding, an Englishman.  As Bernard and his large group swamped the small abbey Bernard announced his determination to follow the Cistercian way of life and surprisingly three years later In 1115, Bernard was sent with a band of twelve monks to Claire Vallée, or Clairvaux where he became Abbott of his own establishment.

After the death of Pope Hnorius II a schism broke out in the Church with the election of two popes, Pope Innocent II and Pope Anacletus II. St. Bernard was a visionary and a man of great religious conviction which came to have influence within the established Church, both the Cistercian Order and the Roman Church of his day.  Bernard was chosen to judge between the two rival popes and this resulted in him appointing Pope Innocent II the legitimate Pope.  However, as support for Innocent II was not secure, Bernard, it has been said, "walked hundreds of miles and talked to a great number of influential people in order to ensure Innocent’s ultimate acceptance."  (Butler)   With his great passion and fervor for the faith, St. Bernard, in his support of Pope Innocent II, traversed back and forth between Italy, France and Germany over the next several years to shore up the wavering support for the true pope against the partisans of the antipope Anacletus.  "His success in this endeavour marked St Bernard as probably the most powerful man in Christendom, for as ‘Pope Maker’ he probably had more influence than the Pontiff himself." (ibid)

Bernard was named Secretary of the Council of Troyes in 1128.  At the Council St. Bernard outlined the Rule of the Knights Templar which resulted in Pope Innocent II accepting ‘The Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon’ (The Knights Templar) into the Catholic fold, who then soon became the ideal of Cristian nobility.  St. Bernard guided a noviciate named BERNARDO PAGANELLI DI MONTEMAGNO (Eugnius III) under his wing, played a major role in "breeding" or prepping him, and making it possible for him to become pope in 1145.  From thenceforward, Bernard was extremely influential in almost every decision which was made in Rome. 

During his life St. Bernard treated the Virgin Mary with utter veneration, and had a profound belief in the 'Chaldean' form of Christianity which he exemplified in this short verse: ‘Believe me, for I know, you will find something far greater in the woods than in books. Stones and trees will teach you that which you cannot learn from the masters.’  He was a strong supporter of an excerpt from the Old Testament called ‘Solomon’s Song of Songs’.

St Bernard wrote the first ‘rules’ of the Templar Order which were based, almost entirely, on the Order adopted by the Cistercians, and this shows in all likelihood that Bernard had undertaken this task personally. "The Templars were officially declared to be a monastic order under the protection of Church in Troyes in 1139. Bernard went further and insisted that Pope Innocent II recognised this infant order as being solely under the authority of the Pope and no other temporal or ecclesiastical authority. It is a fact that the Templars venerated St Bernard from that moment on, until their own demise in 1307." (ibid)

"St Bernard travelled extensively, negotiated in civil disturbances and, surprisingly for the period, was instrumental in preventing a number of pogroms taking place against Jews in various locations within what is present day France. A staunch supporter of an Augustinian view of the mystery of the Christian faith, St Bernard was fiercely opposed to ‘rationalistic’ views of Christianity. In particular he was a staunch opponent of the dialectician ‘Peter Abelard’, a man whom St Bernard virtually destroyed when Abelard refused to accept Bernard’s own criticism of his radical ideas." (ibid)

"St Bernard died in Clairvaux on August 20th 1153, a date that would soon become his feast day, for St Bernard was canonised within a few short years of his death." (ibid)

I will post additional information on The Knights Templar in the near future.

St. Bernard of of Clairvaux, article by Alan Butler

 wikipeida article 


Christopher - Conservative Perspective said...

Teresa, I notice you have been giving the Templars close attention?

I must ask why?

I hold them in high regard , but you being Catholic and the Holy Sea rejecting them and actually putting them to death I wonder why you post on the subject?

Teresa said...


I have known of the Templars for awhile now but they have peaked my interest more recently.

Most of the time the Templars and the Catholic Church worked together and the Church was okay with one another. It wasn't until a few years before their deaths that the Church had a problem with the Templars. And, that was mainly because the Church relied on and trusted the information which came from Philip The Fair, which the Pope shouldn't have done.

I know I remember hearing that either Pope John Paul II or Pope Benedict apologized for the deaths of the Knights Templar but I am having more luck with finding an apology for The Crusades than finding confirmation of an apology for the deaths of the Knights Templar. But, it is possible the Pope apologized for both at the same time.