The Life of Blessed Bernard of Tiron

The Life of Blessed Bernard of Tiron

Translated with an introduction and notes by RUTH HARWOOD CLINE
Copyright Date: 2009
DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt284vd9
Pages: 213
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  • Book Info
    The Life of Blessed Bernard of Tiron
    Book Description:

    The first English translation of the Vita Bernardi, this book makes accessible to medieval and religious historians one of the more interesting and lively stories of the twelfth century.

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1781-9
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt284vd9.1
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt284vd9.2
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt284vd9.3
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xxvi)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt284vd9.4

    Bernard of Tiron (ca. 1046-1116) and Robert of Arbrissel (ca. 1045-1116), founder of Fontevraud (1101), were among the most influential monastic reformers of their time, but Bernard has drawn less scholarly attention. Bernard of Tiron, founder of Tiron Abbey (1107) (diocese of Chartres, 12.8 kilometers, or 7.7 miles, east of Nogent-le-Rotrou in Perche) and of distant priories in Beaujolais and the British Isles, remains largely unknown even to historians of Western monasticism. Bernard’s life as a monk was both typical and exceptional. He was a scholar of Scripture and trained in canon law, but also skilled in woodworking and ironwork...

  5. Note on the Translation
    (pp. xxvii-xxviii)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt284vd9.5
  6. Chronology of the Vita
    (pp. xxix-xxxii)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt284vd9.6
  7. Map of Bernard of Tiron’s France
    (pp. xxxiii-xxxiii)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt284vd9.7
  8. Map of Perche
    (pp. xxxiv-2)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt284vd9.8
  9. Prologue (§§1-5) and Metrical Headings
    (pp. 3-12)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt284vd9.9

    Greetings to the most Reverend Father, Lord Geoffrey, by grace of God bishop of the cathedral of Chartres and legate of the Holy See,¹ from Geoffrey, least of all monks.

    1. Most blessed Father, in your wisdom your eminence knows very well and truly that we are clearly exhorted to transcribe the deeds of holy men and to transmit collections of them in literary works to make their merits known to posterity, by the Archangel Raphael, the healer, who told Tobias: “It is good to conceal the secret of a king, but to acknowledge and reveal the works of God”...

  10. CHAPTER 1 Bernard’s Education and Monastic Life in the Monastery of Saint-Cyprien
    (pp. 13-18)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt284vd9.10

    6. Bernard, a native of Ponthieu¹ in the territory of Abbeville, was born to honest and religious parents, who did hospice and humanitarian work and, insofar as their means allowed, diligently ministered to Christ in the form of His poorest members. They designated him for a liberal education, and by heavenly grace he took pleasure in his studies from the cradle. He applied himself easily to all that he was taught, and he was so well educated that he always possessed considerable abilities in grammar and dialectical reasoning and other literary arts. While he was living sensibly among the other...

  11. CHAPTER 2 Claustral Prior of the Monastery of Saint-Savin, Discipline Restored, and Other Splendid Deeds
    (pp. 19-25)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt284vd9.11

    13. At that time a monk of the monastery of Saint-Cyprien, namely Gervais, whom we mentioned above, was requested by many prayers of the entire communiry to consent to rule the abbey of Saint-Savin.¹ There was no way Gervais could be induced to consent, neither by the bishop’s command nor by the obedience his abbot could demand, unless they would hand over the holy Bernard as his assistant. When at last Gervais won that concession, he was appointed abbot and Bernard was made the prior of the community. Thus by divine counsel two great lights² were sent to dispel the...

  12. CHAPTER 3 Hermit Life in Solitude in Maine
    (pp. 26-32)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt284vd9.12

    19. So that the very thing that the Mother of God had predicted to the holy man would be proven true, another trial for him came up immediately. When he learned of the monks’ intention to make him their abbot, he went away from them in secrecy. He intended to pursue something he had longed to do for many years, which was to try to live as a hermit and to earn his food for himself by the work of his hands. Not very far from the monastery of Saint-Savin dwelt a man who was a venerable and devout hermit,...

  13. CHAPTER 4 Solitary Life on the Chausey Island. Pirates Corrected
    (pp. 33-42)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt284vd9.13

    26. A hermit who pitied Bernard’s poverty gave one of his companions eighteen coins.¹ Compassionately he let them have this little bit of money so they could pay their travel costs, at least for a few days. When the man of rhe Lord found out, in high indignation, that the companion was taking money with him, he said: “Either you will not be my companion or you will stop carrying those coins. Do you expect to find Christ poor in rhose parts we are hurrying toward, when we know that He is rich everywhere? Since Christ is rich, do not...

  14. CHAPTER 5 Blessed Bernard’s Return to the Earlier Hermit Community and Then to His First Monastery of Saint-Cyprien
    (pp. 43-50)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt284vd9.14

    36. Meanwhile the monks of Saint-Savin, who had made every effort to have Bernard rule their monastery, having looked for him everywhere without finding him anywhere, established another man as their shepherd.¹ Peter of l’Etoile learned of it immediately, because he lived in their vicinity. He promptly hurried to the wilderness abode of hermits and, when he came to Dom Vital, asked him where the man he had committed to him could be found. Vital replied that he was hiding on a very remote sea island. Since Peter considered reasonably that he should no longer conceal Bernard’s identity, although initially...

  15. CHAPTER 6 He Was Made Abbot of Saint-Cyprien: He Turned from Persecution to Preaching. The Morals of the Clerics Were Reformed
    (pp. 51-60)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt284vd9.15

    44. When four months had passed, Reginald fell into the grip of a serious illness and took to his bed. Since the day of his death was approaching, the brothers gathered around him. They pleaded with him to deign to designate his successor, through revelation by the Holy Spirit, because he was an extremely learned man, adorned with the privileges of utmost holiness, innocence, and wisdom. Reginald said to them: “Although it is not for me to rule on such a significant and special matter, nonetheless, because I fear your ruin, if you will believe me, as God is my...

  16. CHAPTER 7 Two Trips to Rome in Defense of the Abbey. The Abbey Was Relinquished. Disciples Were Collected Elsewhere
    (pp. 61-69)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt284vd9.16

    55. Meanwhile, for about four years the monks of Saint-Cyprien had expended much effort and expense trying to free their monastery from the false claim of the Cluniacs and had been unsuccessful. Since their need was urgent, in distress they were forced to go into the desert with letters from the bishop of Poitiers. They located their abbot and asked him to help the persons who were toiling in their monastery. Impelled by compassion and compelled by the order of his bishop, Bernard returned to Saint-Cyprien and spent a few days there. Urged by the bishop and monks, accompanied by...

  17. CHAPTER 8 Monastery Constructed in the County of Perche, Favors Accepted and Collected for Division among Others
    (pp. 70-81)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt284vd9.17

    63. A nod from Divine Providence inspired its servant Bernard and all his disciples to migrate to other regions and to leave for distant lonely places. Accordingly he sent a small group of his disciples to seek some vast desert where they could build a foundation large enough to hold them all at the same time, so none would be forced to live apart from him, which was exceedingly hard for them to bear. They derived so much consolation from his words and presence that they preferred to bear the burden of direst poverty with him than to abound in...

  18. CHAPTER 9 Monastery Built on the Thironne River. Favors Granted by Count Rotrou
    (pp. 82-88)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt284vd9.18

    77. At that time, so that Bernard, soldier of Christ, would not lack toil and tribulation to combat, the monks of SaintDenis said that they were entitled to the tithes and burial fees¹ of the very tract that Count Rotrou had given to him. This malicious claim forced him to abandon the buildings that his disciples had constructed so laboriously and to seek another site where he might be allowed to dwell. Therefore he went to the above-mentioned Ivo, the venerable bishop of the celebrated cathedral of Chartres, dedicated in honor of Holy and Ever-Virgin Mary,² and to the canons...

  19. CHAPTER 10 Revelation of Subsequent Eternal Salvation of Two Monks. Some Miracles
    (pp. 89-96)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt284vd9.19

    83. One night, while the brothers were chanting the psalms appointed for nocturns (RB, 9-11)¹ in the oratory, a brother reached the point of death. Accordingly, when the clappers were struck according to the ritual, the brothers gathered together. They wanted to conduct the funeral service of the now-dead brother promptly and return to the oratory, so that they could complete the remainder of the interrupted psalms. Something other than they intended occurred, for a delay made it necessary for them to remain there longer. The infirmarian did not have water to wash the lifeless limbs of the dead brother...

  20. CHAPTER 11 Hospitality. Spirit of Prophecy. Rumor’s Report of Holiness
    (pp. 97-110)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt284vd9.20

    91. A newly professed monk, one of the man’s disciples, began ro wonder about Bernard and was thunderstruck

    By Rumor’s proclamation of his reputation,

    when he had not seen Bernard raise the dead to light, cleanse the lepers’ blight, or restore the blind their sight (Mt 10:8, 11:5). The disciple was failing to consider that holiness of life does not come from performing miracles but from bringing light and doing justice. For a very long time he continued these deliberations and spied constantly on Bernard’s way of life. Then, one night there came

    A great lantern in sight, full of...

  21. CHAPTER 12 At the Point of Death: Two Exhortations to His Monks, Reception of the Deathbed Sacrament
    (pp. 111-120)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt284vd9.21

    105. Bernard was like fragrant nard,¹ not by chance but I reckon by Highest Providence, as was shown by the very letters of his name. The fragrance of his many virtues continuously scented the idleness of earthly depravity with a whiff of most delicate odors, like smoke from aromatic myrrh and frankincense ascending from the desert of this life or like a concentrated abundance of powdered spices of every kind. Yet the end was fast approaching, the end that the Creator and Redeemer of the human race, generous rewarder of His athletes, wished to bring to Bernard’s multiple and tremendous...

  22. CHAPTER 13 Final Preparation for Death. Revelations, Death, Burial
    (pp. 121-129)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt284vd9.22

    116. With some of them crying out and others lying halfdead on the ground in spasms, the man, who always did good works, was constrained to be of two minds about his preferences, for he did not want to leave his desolate flock or to be kept any longer from the presence of the Supreme Good. O how the man was torn between great compassion and hope of Heaven! Amid those who were carrying candles uplifted in their hands, he said: “Oh God, fairest maker of everything (Ecd 11:5) that is fair, all my desire, and from whom my sighing...

  23. CHAPTER 14 Analecta of Various Deeds Added to the Vita
    (pp. 130-142)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt284vd9.23

    127. If anyone wishes to hear how intolerable it was to Bernard if anything better than the ordinary food was served to him in the refectory, let him hear what Bernard often did. When he entered the kitchen one day, he saw a little pot cooking on the fire with the others. When he asked whose it was, he learned that it was meant for himself, whereupon in considerable indignation he seized it, poured, and mixed it in with the others. Afterward, he sternly rebuked the brother, who had acted on his own. Another time, when he entered the refectory...

  24. APPENDIX A Sermon
    (pp. 143-151)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt284vd9.24
  25. APPENDIX B Prayer to Blessed Bernard
    (pp. 152-154)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt284vd9.25
  26. APPENDIX C Synopsis of the Life of Holy Bernard, Abbot of Tiron Abbey
    (pp. 155-160)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt284vd9.26
  27. Bibliography
    (pp. 161-168)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt284vd9.27
  28. Index
    (pp. 169-178)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt284vd9.28
  29. Back Matter
    (pp. 179-180)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt284vd9.29