Saint Bernard the Wonderworker : Early Miracles of Saint Bernard
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The frankness of St. Bernard, and the holy boldness with which he raised his voice in behalf of justice, were at the same time accompanied by such profound meekness and perfect disinterestedness, that his words had the authority of an oracle. The young abbot had retained from his early education a noble refinement of tone and manner, and a delicacy of language which, added to his mental endowments, spontaneously won all hearts. Every look, every movement, shed the glory of grace, benevolence, heavenly life, around his person; and every word of his bore its fruit. ” He had always,” says an ancient author, ” consolation for the afflicted, help for the oppressed, counsel for the troubled in mind — a resource for every necessity, a balm for every sickness.”
So many virtues and eminent qualities, all consecrated to the service of the Church, could not remain hidden; they shone more and more brightly every day; and, at the period of which we are now writing, the name of St. Bernard is seen to beam as a beneficent star on the horizon of his country. His correspondence attests the relations subsisting between him and the principal personages of his time, not only France, but in Italy, Germany, Portugal, and even Asia. The monastery of Clairvaux had become a sacred spot to which curiosity, no less than piety, attracted a crowd of illustrious strangers. They came to contemplate the ancient marvel of the desert in the heart of France. Besides this edifying spectacle, many miracles were spoken of as haying been wrought by the Saint. It was well known that a child from the neighborhood of Clairvaux had been presented to Bernard in a state of extreme suffering; his arm was paralyzed, his hand withered. Bernard prayed, made the sign of the cross upon the child, and restored him to his mother perfectly cured. A no less extraordinary cure was wrought on a rich man named Humbert, who afterwards became a religious, and was the first abbot of the monastery of Igny. This man, to whom Bernard bore a particular affection, was so terribly afflicted with epilepsy as to fall into fits seven times a day. Bernard prayed for him whom he loved so much. From that moment, Humbert was cured, and never again to the end of his life experienced a single attack of the sickness. It is also related that, being in the diocese of Leon, on the day of the dedication of the new church of the monastery, which he had founded there, this church was filled with so incredible a multitude of flies, that their buzzing disturbed the devotions of the faithful ; and as there was no other way of getting rid of them, the Saint cried, “Excommunicabe eas .'” The next day they were all found dead ; and their number was so great that they blackened the pavement, and were carried out of the church with shovels. To which a chronicler adds, that “this miracle was so well known, and so celebrated, that the curse of the flies of Foigny passed into a proverb among the people around, who had come from all parts to assist at the dedication of that church.” One day, several knights, on their way to a tournament, passed by Clairvaux, and asked a night’s lodging io the monastery. It was towards the end of Lent; and Bernard, while he lavished the duties of hospitality upon his guests, did not conceal from them the extreme pain he felt to see young Christians full of such frivolities at the solemn season of the year when the Church is mourning in retirement and penance. ” I ask a truce of you,” said he, “till after holy Lent.” But the knights, unpatient to distinguish themselves at the tournament, could not resolve to accede to his desire. ” In that case,” said St. Bernard, ” I shall ask this grace of God, and I have a firm confidence that I shall obtain it.” He then ordered wine to be served to them, blessed the cup, and said: “Drink to the health of your souls I” They drank, and soon afterwards took leave of the holy abbot. But they had scarcely set forth when their consciences began to trouble them, and they communicated to each other the emotions they experienced, and the strange anxiety of their minds. What they had seen and heard at Clairvaux absorbed them entirely; and tears of regret and tenderness moistened their eyes when they compared the vanity of their lives with the grave and holy lives of these servants of God. All, with one accord, turned back again ; and, influenced by a holy desire after perfection, they stripped off their armor, laid aside their rich garments, and prostrated themselves at Bernard’s feet, to consecrate themselves to God. They vowed the rest of their lives to the tranquil exercise of the spiritual warfare of the children of Jesus Christ. ” Some among them,” adds the biographer, “are still fighting in the service of God ; many more already reign with Christ in heaven, having been delivered in this world from the bonds of their mortal bodies.”
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Saint Bernard the wonder worker, excerpts from the Life and Times of Saint Bernard by Abbot Theodore Ratisbonne and Heroic Virtue: A Portion of the Treatise of Benedict XIV on the Beatification and Canonization of the Servants of God Volume III.
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