Today is the Feast of St Bernard of Clairvaux, O.Cist., the primary builder of the reforming Cistercian Order. He wrote the Memorare, a very familiar and traditional prayer to Our Lady:
“REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.”
The Bishop of Rome, Pius VIII proclaimed Bernard a Doctor of the Church. On the 800th anniversary of St Bernard’s death in 1953, The Venerable Pius XII issued an Encyclical, Doctor Mellifluus (the Honey-Sweet(-voiced) Doctor), which can be read on the Vatican website.
In the Encyclical, The Venerable Pius XII, writes that the three central elements of Bernard’s Mariology are how he explained the virginity of Mary, the “Star of the Sea”, how the faithful should pray on the Virgin Mary, and how he relied on the Virgin Mary as Mediatrix.
I remember St Bernard’s day particularly as it is the anniversary of my baptism. Thirty-five years ago I was baptised during Sede Vacante in the Roman See. The Venerable Paul VI had died on the Feast of the Transfiguration, fourteen days earlier, and it would be another six days before the Servant of God John Paul I would be elected. Sometimes I wonder if this is why I am quite so Catholic but with no particularly strong feeling for the centralising tendency of the Roman Communion.