October 21, 2009. Dear Brothers and Sisters, in our continuing catechesis on the theologians of the Middle Ages, we now turn to one of the most outstanding, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux.
Bernard combined the austerity of the Cistercian monastic renewal with intense activity in the service of the Church in his time. Because of his great learning and deep spirituality he is venerated as a Doctor of the Church, and is often called "the last of the Fathers".
Together with his theological writings and homilies, including the celebrated Sermons on the Song of Songs, Bernard maintained a vast correspondence, developed warm friendships with his contemporaries, defended sound doctrine, and combated heresy and outbreaks of antisemitism. His spirituality was profoundly Christ-centred and contemplative, and his celebration of the sweetness of Christ’s name won him the title of Doctor mellifluus.
Bernard is also known for his fervent devotion to our Lady and his insight into her intimate sharing in the sacrifice of her Son. May Bernard’s example of a faith nourished by prayer, study and contemplation, lead us closer "to Jesus through Mary" and grant us that wisdom which finds joyful fulfilment in the knowledge of the saints in heaven.
I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s Audience, especially from the Dioceses of Lismore and Saginaw accompanied by their Bishops, as well as from Holy Cross and Saint Margaret Mary Parish in Edinburgh. I also greet the visitors from the Netherlands, Nigeria, Tanzania, England, Ireland, Norway and Sweden. Upon all of you I invoke God’s blessings of peace, joy and hope!