Brian Patrick McGuire – A Companion to Bernard of Clairvaux
Published: 2011-03-21 | ISBN: 9004201394 | PDF | 406 pages | 4 MB

When Brill’s editor Julian Deahl some years ago asked if I might be interested in editing a Companion to Bernard of Clairvaux, I was very much in doubt. In previously editing a Companion to Jean Gerson I had a handful of colleagues who were experts in the late medieval theologian. With Bernard there was a potential army of scholars, as well as an armful of scholarship reaching back into the nineteenth century. Gerson deserved to be discovered, while Bernard was already known, for better and worse, as “the difficult saint,” “the first European” and an arch-demon of “the persecuting society”.
It was with fear and trembling that I approached Bernard, and I am still convinced that in my own work, I have not even begun to do him justice. His Latin style, contemplative dimension, political importance in twelfth-century Europe, contribution to the Cistercian Order, views on art and architecture, and continuing relevance in the centuries after his death: all these aspects of Bernard deserve to be addressed. Thankfully I was able to find colleagues and friends who were willing to do so, and I am grateful to them for joining me in this project. I am most of all grateful to Chrysogonus Waddell, OCSO (Order of the Cistercians of the Strict Observance = Trappists), to whom this book is dedicated. As monk of Gethsemani Abbey, he was taught by the legendary Thomas Merton. I never knew Merton but I came to know Chrysogonus as the enthusiastic and attentive brother who would sit through every single Cistercian session at the yearly Kalamazoo Congress. He almost always had a helpful and enlightening question to pose, even when he was not happy with the speaker. Thanks to Chrysogonus the works of Bernard were sent to me free of charge. He somehow knew that I was not well off, and over the years the fruits of his Cistercian scholarship faithfully came my way. I am only one of dozens or even hundreds of scholars who have benefited from his expertise and insights, and so it was a relief to receive the final draft of his own article just weeks before his death in November 2008. Now I can share with the readers of this book the last thoughts of Chrysogonus on Merton and Saint Bernard.

 

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