Bernard of Cluny

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Bernard of Cluny (or, of Morlaix or Morlay[1]) was a twelfth-century French Benedictine monk, best known as the author of De contemptu mundi (On Contempt for the World), a long verse satire in Latin.

Life[edit]

Bernard's family of origin and place of birth are not known for certain. Some medieval sources list Morlaàs in Béarn, as his birthplace. However, in some records from that period he is called Morlanensis, which would indicate that he was a native of Morlaix in Brittany. A writer in the Journal of Theological Studies (1907), Volume 8, pages 354-359, contended that he belonged to the family of the seigneurs of Montpellier in Languedoc, and was born at Murles. It is believed that he was at first a monk of Saint-Sauveur d'Aniane and that he entered the monastery of Cluny during the administration of Abbot Pons (1109–1122).[2]

The monastery of Cluny[edit]

The first monastery in Burgundy was at Cluny, started by the Benedictine monks in 940 AD. With over 1,000 monks in residence, more than the population of most towns of that time, large buildings had to be erected to house everyone and 40 farms produced the food. The abbey became grander and grander as its power over the whole of Europe increased. It was the largest church in Christendom, only succeeded later by St. Peter’s in Rome, dominating for hundreds of years. It organized pilgrimages, oversaw hundreds of other monasteries and governed by the power of excommunication.[3]

Works[edit]

Bernard is best known as the author of De contemptu mundi (On Contempt for the World), a 3,000 verse poem of stinging satire directed against the secular and religious failings he observed in the world around him. He spares no one; priests, nuns, bishops, monks, and even Rome itself are mercilessly scourged for their shortcomings. For this reason it was first printed by Matthias Flacius in Varia poemata de corrupto ecclesiae statu (Basle, 1557) as one of his testes veritatis, or witnesses of the deep-seated corruption of medieval society and of the Church, and was often reprinted by Protestants in the course of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Bernard of Cluny also wrote the twelfth century hymn "Omni die dic Mariae" (Daily, daily sing to Mary).[4] Several of Bernard's sermons and a theological treatise, Dialogue (Colloquium) on the Trinity are extant, as is a c. 1140 poem which he dedicated to the monastery's abbot Peter the Venerable (1122–1156).[2]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Bernardus Morlanensis, De contemptu mundi, Une vision du monde vers 1144 - Bernard le Clunisien. Latin text with french transl., introduction and commentary by André Cresson. (Témoins de notre histoire) Turnhout 2009.
  • Scorn for the world: Bernard of Cluny's De contemptu mundi. Latin text with engl. transl. and introd. by Ronald E. Pepin. Colleagues Press, East Lansing, Michigan, 1991.

References[edit]

  • Scorn for the world: Bernard of Cluny's De contemptu mundi. Latin Text with engl. transl. and introd. by Ronald E. Pepin. Colleagues Press, East Lansing, Michigan, 1991.
  • Bernardus Morlanensis, De contemptu mundi, Une vision du monde vers 1144 - Bernard le Clunisien. Latin Text, French transl., introd. and annotations by André Cresson. (Témoins de notre histoire) Turnhout 2009.

External links[edit]