Saint Bernard’s spirit of chivalry

September 7, 2017

By Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

St. Bernard overcoming a Demon

St. Bernard was a Trappist monk. He founded a religious Order that was a branch of the Order of St. Benedict destined to practice greater austerity and have a tougher life than required by the toughest rules of the monks of his time.  He believed – how rightly! – that through suffering man atones for his own sins and for the sins of others.

Knights Templar

But he did not close his eyes to the fact that the Mohammedan danger was still great and would still try to conquer Europe many times. And because of this, aware that some of the ancient orders of chivalry were somewhat decadent, he heeded the request of some fervent knights, founded the famous Order of Chivalry of the Templars and wrote its rule.

The knight, who made vows in this Order, would make the vows of poverty, obedience to his superiors and chastity. But St. Bernard added a sublime complementary vow: to never retreat in the battlefield! To die if necessary but never retreat! Not even a strategic retreat: that was that! And this turned the Knights Templar into a force that broke the back of the Muslim danger of that time.

The heretic monk Abelard.

On the other hand, however, heresies were popping up. It was a bad epoch, in which the Middle Ages was ending and the modern times were about to begin manifesting themselves. And so St. Bernard began to combat heresies, above all that of a famous, evil, horrible, sentimental heretic, the monk Abelard, whom he fought with all his energy and furor, and whose heresy he overthrew.

So here is St. Bernard, a great mystical soul, and a great warrior and polemicist!


(Excerpt from a Palavrinha, Sunday, Sept. 24, 1989 – translation)

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