History of the christian church



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Eugenius III. had been an inmate of Clairvaux and one of Bernard’s special wards. The tract de consideratione7which, at this pope’s request, Bernard prepared on the papal office and functions is unique in literature, and, upon the whole, one of the most interesting treatises of the Middle Ages. Vacandard calls it "an examination, as it were, of the pope’s conscience." 648 Here Bernard exhorts his spiritual son, whom he must address as "most holy father," and whom he loves so warmly, that he would follow him into the heavens or to the depths, whom he received in poverty and now beholds surrounded with pomp and riches. Here he pours out his concern for the welfare of Eugenius’s soul and the welfare of the Church under his administration. He adduces the distractions of the papal court, its endless din of business and legal arbitrament, and calls upon Eugenius to remember that prayer, meditation, and the edification of the Church are the important matters for him to devote himself to. Was not Gregory piously writing upon Ezekiel while Rome was exposed to siege from the barbarians! Teacher never had opportunity to impress lessons upon a scholar more elevated in dignity, and Bernard approached it with a high sense of his responsibility. 649

As a preacher, Bernard excels in the glow of his imagination and the fervor of his passion. Luther said, "Bernard is superior to all the doctors in his sermons, even to Augustine himself, because he preaches Christ most excellently."0 In common with his other writings, his sermons abound in quotations from the Scriptures. 651 They are not pieces of careful logical statement nor are they keen analyses of the states of conscience, but appeals to the highest impulses of the religious nature. His discourse on the death of his brother Gerard is a model of tender treatment 652as his address before Konrad was of impassioned fervor. 653 The sermons on the Canticles preached within convent walls abound in tropical allegory, but also in burning love to the Saviour. One of the most brilliant of modern pulpit orators has said, "the constant shadow of things eternal is over all Bernard’s sermons." 654 His discourses, so speaks his biographer Gaufrid, were congruous to the conditions of his hearers. To rustic people he preached as though he had always been living in the country and to all other classes as though he were most carefully studying their occupations. To the erudite he was scholarly; to the uneducated, simple. To the spiritually minded he was rich in wise counsels. He adapted himself to all, desiring to bring to all the light of Christ. 655

The miraculous power of Bernard is so well attested by contemporary accounts that it is not easy to deny it except on the assumption that all the miraculous of the Middle Ages is to be ascribed to mediaeval credulity. Miracles meet us in almost every religious biographer of the Middle Ages. The biographer of Boniface, the apostle of Germany, found it necessary to apologize for not having miracles to relate of him. But the miracles of Bernard seem to be vouched for as are no other mediaeval works of power. The cases given are very numerous. They occurred on Bernard’s journeys in Toulouse and Italy, nearer home in France, and along the Rhine from Basel northward. William of St. Thierry, Gaufrid, and other contemporaries relate them in detail. His brothers, the monks Gerard and Guido, agree that he had more than human power. Walter Map, the Englishman who flourished in the latter years of Bernard’s life and later, speaks in the same breath of Bernard’s miracles and his eloquence.6 But what, to say the least, is equally important, Bernard himself makes reference to them and marvelled at his power. Miracles, he said, had been wrought of old by saintly men and also by deceivers, but he was conscious neither of saintliness nor of fraud. 657 He is reported as recognizing his power, but as being reluctant to speak of it. 658 In a letter to the Toulousans, after his visit in their city, he reminded them that the truth had been made manifest in their midst through him, not only in speech but in power. 659 And appealing to the signs which had accompanied his preaching the Second Crusade, he speaks of his religious shrinking which forbade his describing them. 660

These miracles were performed at different periods of Bernard’s life and, as has been said, in different localities. The bishop of Langres, a near relative, says that the first miracle he saw Bernard perform was upon a boy with an ulcer on his foot. In answer to the boy’s appeal, Bernard made the sign of the cross and the child was healed. A mother met him carrying her child which had a withered hand and crooked arm. The useless members were restored and the child embraced its mother before the bystanders.1 A boy in Charletre, ten years old, unable to move his head and carried on a pillow, was healed and shown to Bernard four years afterwards.

Sometimes Bernard placed his hand upon the patient, sometimes made the sign of the cross, sometimes offered prayer, sometimes used the consecrated wafer or holy water. 662 In Milan many persons possessed with evil spirits were healed. 663 As for the miracles performed on his tour along the Rhine from Constance and Basel to Cologne, when he was engaged in preaching the Second Crusade, Hermann, bishop of Constance, with nine others kept a record of them, declaring the very stones would cry out if they were not recorded. 664 After a sermon at Basel, says Gaufrid, a woman, who was mute, approached Bernard and after he had uttered a prayer, she spoke. A lame man walked and a blind man received his sight. 665 Thirty men, moved by the sight of Bernard’s healing power, accompanied him back from Germany to France to take the monastic vow. 666

Abaelard and his pupil, Berengar, were exceptions to their age in expressing doubts about the genuineness of contemporary miracles, but they do not charge Bernard by name with being self-deceived or deceiving others. Morison, a writer of little enthusiasm, no credulity, and a large amount of cool, critical common sense, says that Bernard’s "miracles are neither to be accepted with credulity nor denied with fury."7 Neander recognized the superior excellence of the testimony, 668refused to pronounce a sentence denying their genuineness, and seeks to explain them by the conditions of the age and the imposing personality of Bernard as in the case of those possessed with evil spirits. 669 A presumption against the miracles of Bernard, which can hardly be put aside, is the commonness of miracles in the mediaeval convent and in the lives of eminent men like Norbert, not to speak of the miracles wrought at shrines, as at the shrine of Thomas à Becket and by contact with relics. On the other hand, there are few mortal men whom miracles would so befit as Bernard.

Bernard’s activity was marked, all through, by a practical consideration for the needs of life, and his writings are full of useful suggestions adapted to help and ameliorate human conditions. He was a student by preference, but there were men in his day of more scholastic attainments than he. And yet in the department of speculative and controversial theology his writings also have their value. In his work on the Freedom of the Will 670he advocated the position that the power to do good was lost by sin, and prevenient grace is required to incline the will to holiness. In his controversy with Abaelard he developed his views on the Trinity and the atonement. In some of his positions he was out of accord with the theology and practice of the Roman Communion. He denied the immaculate conception of Mary 671and accepted foot washing as one of the sacraments. In his views on baptism he was as liberal as the most liberal of his age in declaring that baptism was not indispensable to salvation when the opportunity is not afforded. 672


Severe at times as Bernard, the Churchman, from the standpoint of this tolerant age seems to be, the testimonies to his exalted moral eminence are too weighty to be set aside. Bernard’s own writings give the final and abundant proof of his ethical quality. It shines through his works on personal religion, all those treatises and sermons which give him a place in the front rank of the mystics of all ages.3

William of St. Thierry, himself no mean theological writer, felt that in visiting Bernard’s cell he had been "at the very altar of God."4 Joachim of Flore praised him in enthusiastic language and evidently regarded him as the model monk. 675 The impression upon Hildegard, the prophetess of the Rhine, was the same. 676 In his Memoir of St. Malachy, Bernard, as has been said, put, an image of his own beautiful and ardent soul." 677 No one but a deeply religious character could have written such a life. Malachy, the Irish archbishop, visited Clairvaux twice and on the second visit he remained to die, 1148. Bernard wrote:—


"Though he came from the West, he was truly the dayspring on high to us. With psalms and hymns and spiritual songs we followed our friend on his heavenward journey. He was taken by angels out of our hands. Truly he fell asleep. All eyes were fixed upon him, yet none could say when the spirit took its flight. When he was dead, we thought him to be alive; while yet alive, we thought him to be dead. 678 The same brightness and serenity were ever visible. Sorrow was changed into joy, faith had triumphed. He has entered into the joy of the Lord, and who am I to make lamentation over him? We pray, O Lord, that he who was our guest may be our leader, that we may reign with Thee and him for evermore. Amen."
Bernard’s sense of personal unworthiness was a controlling element in his religious experience. In this regard he forms a striking contrast to the self-confidence and swagger of Abaelard. He relied with childlike trust upon the divine grace. In one of his very last letters he begged his friend the abbot of Bonneval to be solicitous in prayer to the Saviour of sinners in his behalf. His last days were not without sorrow. His trusted secretary was found to have betrayed his confidence, and used his seal for his own purposes. William of St. Thierry and other friends had been passing away. Bernard’s last journey was to Metz to compose a dispute between bishop Stephen and the duke of Lorraine. Deutsch, perhaps the chief living authority on Bernard, says: "Religious warmth, Genialitaet, is the chief thing in his character and among his gifts." 679Harnack pays this tribute to him, that "he was the religious genius of the twelfth century, the leader of his age in religion." 680 "Bernard," said Luther,—and he was not easily deceived by monkish pretension,—"Bernard loved Jesus as much as any one can." 681 Ray Palmer has imparted to his version of Bernard’s hymn its original religious fervor,
"Jesus, Thou Joy of loving hearts,
Thou Fount of life, Thou Light of men,

From the best bliss which earth imparts


We turn unfilled to Thee again."
The encomium of Bernard’s early biographer Alanus is high praise, but probably no man since the Apostles has deserved it more: "The majesty of his name was surpassed by his lowliness of heart," 682
vincebat tamen sublimitatem nominis humilitas cordis.
§ 66. The Augustinians, Carthusians, Carmelites, and other Orders.
Among the greater orders which came into existence before 1200 are the Augustinians, the Premonstrants, the Carthusians, and the Carmelites.

1. The Augustinians were a distinct family from the Benedictines, followed the so-called rule of St. Augustine, and were divided into the canons regular of St. Augustine and the mendicant friars of St. Augustine.

The bodies of canons regular were numerous, but their organization was not compact like that of the stricter monastic orders.3 They were originally communities of secular clerics, and not conventual associations. They occupied a position between the strict monastic existence and an independent clerical life. Their origin can be assigned to no exact date. As early as the eleventh century a rule, ascribed to St. Augustine, appeared in several forms. It was professed by the clerical groups forming the cathedral chapters, and by bodies of priests associated with other churches of prominence. 684 The various church services, as, for example, the service of song, and the enforced rule of celibacy, encouraged or demanded a plurality of clergymen for a church.

Moved by the strong impulse in the direction of conventual communities, these groups inclined to the communal life and sought some common rule of discipline. For it they looked back to Augustine of Hippo, and took his household as their model. We know that Augustine had living with him a group of clerics. We also know that he commended his sister for associating herself with other women and withdrawing from the world, and gave her some advice. But so far as is known Augustine prescribed no definite code such as Benedict afterwards drew up, either for his own household or for any other community.

About 750 Chrodegang, bishop of Metz, drew up a code for his cathedral chapter, whom he enjoined to live together in common, 685and here and there in Germany isolated communities of this kind were formed.

In the twelfth century we find many groups of clerics who adopted what began to be known as the rule of St. Augustine. 686 Under Innocent III. organizations were formed by William Langlois of the Paris University, and others under the name canons regular to live distinctly under this code. Innocent IV. 687and Alexander IV., 1256, definitely recognized the rule.

The Augustinian rule established a community of goods. Even gifts went into the common fund. The clerics ate together and slept in one dormitory. They wore a common dress, and no one on returning his suit to the clothing room retained any peculiar right to it. The papal attempts to unite these groups into a close organization proved to be in vain. 688 In England the Augustinian canons had charge of Carlisle cathedral.

The Augustinian hermits, or Austin friars, as they were called in England, were monastics in the true sense. They arose after the canons regular, 689adopted the rule of St. Augustine, and were mendicants. In the closing period of the Middle Ages they were addicted to preaching. To this order John of Staupitz and Luther belonged. 690

The rule of St. Augustine was also adopted with modification by the Premonstrants, the Gilbertines of England,1and other orders, and was made the basis by Dominic of his first rule.

2. The Premonstrants adopted the Augustinian rule, were called from their dress White Canons, and grew with great rapidity. 692 They had houses from Livland to Palestine, and from Great Britain to Spain. Their founder, Norbert, born about 1080 in Xantes, on the Lower Rhine, was a great preacher and one of the most influential men of his age. Thrown from his horse during a storm, he determined to devote himself in earnest to religion. He gave up his position in the Cologne Cathedral and entered the Benedictine Convent of Sigeberg. Norbert then travelled about in Germany and France as a preacher of repentance, 693calling the people together by a sheep’s bell. With others like-minded with himself he settled, 1119, in the woods at Coucy, near Laon, France, giving the spot the name of Praemonstratum, or Prémontré, the designated field, 694with reference to his having been directed to it by a higher power. The order secured papal sanction 1126, and received, like other orders, special papal privileges. Innocent III. bespoke the special intercession of the Premonstrants as he did that of the Cistercians. The first rule forbade meat and eggs, cheese and milk. As in the case of the Cistercians, their meals were limited to two dishes. At a later date the rule against meat was modified. Lay brethren were introduced and expected to do the work of the kitchen and other manual services. The theological instruction was confined to a few prayers, and the members were not allowed to read books. 695

Norbert in 1126 was made archbishop of Magdeburg and welcomed the opportunity to introduce the order in Northeastern Germany. He joined Bernard in supporting Innocent II. against the antipope Anacletus II. He died 1134, at Magdeburg, and was canonized in 1582. Peter the Venerable and Bernard of Clairvaux praised the order and Norbert himself as a man who stood near to God.6 Miracles were ascribed to him, but Abaelard ridiculed the claim.

The almost incredible number of one thousand houses is claimed for this order in its flourishing period. There was also an order of Premonstrant nuns, which is said to have numbered ten thousand women during Norbert’s lifetime. 697 Their earliest settlement in England was at Newhouse, Lincolnshire, 1143. Norbert and Bruno, the Carthusian, were the only Germans who established monastic orders in this period. 698

3. More original and strict were the Carthusians,9who got their name from the seat of their first convent, Chartreuse, Cartusium, fourteen miles from Grenoble, southeast of Lyons. They were hermits, and practised an asceticism excelling in severity any of the other orders of the time. 700 The founder, St. Bruno, was born in Cologne, and became chancellor of the cathedral of Rheims. Disgusted with the vanities of the world, 701he retired with some of his pupils to a solitary place, Saisse Fontaine, in the diocese of Langres, which he subsequently exchanged for Chartreuse. 702 The location was a wild spot in the mountains, difficult of access, and for a large part of the year buried in snow. Bruno was called by Urban II. to Rome, and after acting as papal adviser, retired to the Calabrian Mountains and established a house. There he died, 1101. He was canonized 1514. In 1151 the number of Carthusian houses was fourteen, and they gradually increased to one hundred and sixty-eight. The order was formally recognized by Alexander III., 1170.

The first Carthusian statutes were committed to writing by the fifth prior Guigo, d. 1137. The rule now in force was fixed in 1578, and reconfirmed by Innocent XI., 1682. 703 The monks lived in cells around a central church, at first two and two, and then singly. 704 They divided their time between prayer, silence, and work, which originally consisted chiefly in copying books. The services celebrated in common in the church were confined to vespers and matins. The other devotions were performed by each in seclusion. The prayers were made in a whisper so as to avoid interfering with others. They sought to imitate the Thebaid anchorites in rigid self-mortification. Peter the Venerable has left a description of their severe austerities. Their dress was thin and coarse above the dress of all other monks. 705 Meat, fat, and oil were forbidden; wine allowed, but diluted with water. They ate only bean-bread. They flagellated themselves once each day during the fifty days before Easter, and the thirty days before Christmas. When one of their number died, each of the survivors said two psalms, and the whole community met and took two meals together to console one another for the loss. 706 No woman was allowed to cross the threshold. For hygienic purposes, the monks bled themselves five times a year, and were shaved six times a year. 707 They avoided adornment in their churches and church dignities. 708 They borrowed books from Cluny and other convents for the purpose of copying them. 709 The heads of the Carthusian convents are called priors, not abbots. In its earlier history the order received highest praise from Innocent III. and Peter the Venerable, Bernard, and Peter of Celle. Bernard shrank from interrupting their holy quiet by letters, and lauded their devotion to God. So at a later time Petrarch, after a visit to their convent in Paris, penned a panegyric of the order.

In England the Carthusians were not popular. 710 They never had more than eleven houses. The first establishment was founded by Henry II., at Witham, 1180. The famous Charterhouse in London (a corruption of the French Chartreuse), founded in 1371, was turned into a public school, 1611. In Italy the more elaborate houses of the order were the Certosa di San Casciano near Florence, the Certosa at Pisa, and the Certosa Maria degli Angeli in Rome. 711

In recent times the monks of the Chartreuse became famous for the Chartreuse liqueur which they distilled. In its preparation the young buds of pine trees were used.

4. The Carmelites, or the Order of the Blessed Mary the Virgin of Mt. Carmel, had their origin during the Crusades, 1156.2 The legend carries their origin back to Elijah, whose first disciples were Jonah, Micah, and Obadiah. Obadiah’s wife became the first abbess of the female community. Their history has been marked by much division within the order and bitter controversies with other orders.

Our first trustworthy notice is derived from Phocas, a Greek monk, who visited Mt. Carmel in 1185. Berthold of Calabria, a Crusader, made a vow under the walls of Antioch that in case the Christians were victorious over Zenki, he would devote himself to the monastic life. The prayer was answered, and Berthold with ten companions established himself on Mt. Carmel. 713 The origin of the order became the subject of a violent dispute between the Carmelites and the Jesuits. The Jesuit Papebroch precipitated it in 1668 by declaring that Berthold was the founder. He was answered by the Carmelite Daniel 714and others who carried the origin back to Elijah. Appeal was made to Innocent XII., who, in 1698, in the bull redemptoris, commanded the two orders to maintain silence till the papal chair should render a decision. This has not yet been done. 715

The community received its rule about 1208 from Albert, afterwards patriarch of Constantinople. It was confirmed by Honorius III., 1226. Its original sixteen articles gave the usual regulations against eating meat, enjoined daily silence, from vespers to tierce (6 P. M. to 9 A. M.), and provided that the monks live the hermit’s life in cells like the Carthusians. The dress was at first a striped garment, white and black, which was afterwards changed for brown.

With the Christian losses in Palestine, the Carmelites began to migrate westwards. In 1238 they were in Cyprus, and before the middle of the thirteenth century they were settled in far Western Europe. The first English house was at Alnwick, and a general chapter was held at Aylesford, 1246.

From the general of the order, Simon Stock, an Englishman (1245–65), dates the veneration of the scapulary,6a jacket which he received from the Virgin Mary. It exempts, so the story runs, those who die with it on, from the fires of purgatory. Mary promised to go down to purgatory every Saturday, and release those who have worn it. The story is included in the Breviary, 717and was pronounced true and to be believed by all, by Benedict XIV. In 1322 John XXII., in obedience to a vision, issued the famous bull Sabbatina, which promised to all entering the order, deliverance from purgatory by Mary, the first Saturday after their decease. 718

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