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Bernard of Cluny


Benedictine monk and poet; fl. mid-12th century, known also as Bernard of Morlas. Nothing is known for certain about his early years, although later unsubstantiated tradition describes him as a native of England or Brittany who entered religious life at the Abbey of Saint-Sauveur d'Aniane, transferring to the great benedictine foundation at cluny in the time of Abbot Pons de Melgueil (d. 1126). It is certain, however, that he was a monk at Cluny under peter the venerable (112257), for he dedicates his major work to that abbot. Bernard is best known for his De contemptu mundi, a Latin poem of about 3,000 lines in dactylic hexameter, written c. 1140. It is a bitter satire against the moral disorders of his time, and the author did not flinch from protesting the vices of the leading churchmen of the day and the abuses that he saw in Rome itself. In his somewhat discursive fashion, he enlarged upon the transitory nature of all material things and the permanence of spiritual values. His vivid descriptions of heaven and hell might be compared with those of dante, and the whole work ends on an apocalyptic note. Bernard also produced a number of sermons and is usually credited with the authorship of the Mariale, a poem in praise of the Blessed Virgin, as well as the Constitutiones cluniacenses, a compilation of the early monastic customs that had been the basis of the cluniac reform.

See Also: omni die dic mariae.

Bibliography: Works . De contemptu mundi by Bernard of Morval, ed. h. c. hoskier (London 1929); Constitutiones cluniacenses, ed. b. albers in Constitutiones cluniacenses antiquiores (Monte Cassino 1905). Mariale, Analecta hymnica 50:423483. Literature . l. bergeron, Dictionnaire de spiritualité ascétique et mystique: Doctrine et histoire (Paris 1932) 1:150607. m. disdier, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. a. baudrillart et al., (Paris 1912) 8:699700. g. j. engelhardt, "The De contemptu mundi of Bernardus Morvalensis: A Study in Commonplace," Mediaeval Studies 22 (1960) 108135. Histoire littéraire de la France (Paris 18141941) 12:236246. m. manitius, Geschichte der lateinischen Literatur des Mittelalters (Munich 191131) 3:780783. The Rhythm of Bernard of Morlaix, ed. and tr. j. m. neale (5th ed. London 1864). r. c. petry, "Medieval Eschatology and Social Responsibility in Bernard of Morval's De contemptu mundi, " Speculum 24 (1949) 207217. f. j. e. raby, A History of Christian-Latin Poetry from the Beginnings to the Close of the Middle Ages (2d ed. Oxford 1953) 315319. j. szÖvÉrffy, Die Annalen der lateinischen Hymnendichtung: Ein Handbuch (Berlin 196465) 2:8689. a. wilmart, "Grands poèmes inédits de Bernard le Clunisien," Revue Bénédictine 45 (1933) 249253.

[b. j. comaskey]

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