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Bernard of Clairvaux

1090 - 1153

Bernard of Clairvaux, born in 1090 near Dijon, was a French abbot, mystic, and literary expert who influenced the church away from ritualistic sacerdotalism towards personal faith and love for God – though he emphasised Mary as a mediator and, through his poetry devoted the ‘Queen of Heaven’, helped develop Catholic Mariology considerably. He undertook to reform monasticism in the Cistercian order; contributed to councils and polemics, arguing against the rationalism of Scholastics like Peter Abelard; wrote rules of conduct for the Knights Templar; and supported and inspired the Crusades. His devotional writings remain important for both Catholics and Protestants, John Calvin in particular quoting Bernard several times. He also left to the church the hymns, O Sacred Head Now Wounded, Jesus the Very Thought of Theeand, Jesus Thou Joy of Loving Hearts.

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