Monday, August 18, 2014

The Honey Tongued Doctor

Vicente Carducho (c. 1576-1638)
San Bernardo de Claraval visita a Guigo I en la cartuja
St Bernard of Clairvaux visits Guigo I in the Chartreuse
Oil on canvas
337 cm x 298 cm
Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid

Carducho was commissioned  by the Order of the Carthusians at the Cartuja de Santa Maria de El Paular in Madrid to paint a cycle of 54 large canvases on the history of the Carthusian order

The Carthusian monk behind the cycle was one of the great Carthusians in Spain: Father Juan de Baeza (died 1641)

The works were for the large Gothic cloister in Madrid

The work records the meeting between St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) and Guigo I (1083-1136), who wrote the Carthusian Rule. Both are located at the entrance of the Chartreuse.  The writing of the rule by Guigo was seen to be  recognized by such a great figure as as Saint Bernard of Clairvaux 

Bernard of Clairvaux may well be the apotheosis of the monastic tradition in the medieval period. 

In his day, he was one of the most powerful figures in Christendom. He was instrumental in securing the election of Innocent II to the papacy in preference to the antipope, Analectus II, and influenced the papacy when one of his disciples became Pope Eugene III in 1145

His sermons and writings still reverberate down the centuries

Here below we see the mystical tradition with which St Bernard is associated

Francisco Ribalta (1565 – 14 January 1628)
Cristo abrazando a San Bernardo
Christ embracing St Bernard of Clairvaux
Oil on canvas
158 cm x  113 cm 
Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid

Christ leaves the cross for a moment to embrace Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, founder of the Cistercian Order. 

The scene is inspired by a mystical vision of the saint, recouted in one of the most popular devotional books of the Baroque period: Flos Sanctorum, or Book of Life of the Saints  by Peter Ribadeneyra and published in 1599.

St Bernard  was the first to formulate the basic principles of mysticism, and laid the foundations of mysticism as a spiritual body of doctrine of the Catholic Church

In "De amore Dei" (De Diligendo Deo) St. Bernard shows that the manner of loving God is to love Him without measure and gives an account of the different degree of this love

""The reason for loving God," he says, "is God; the measure of this love is to love without measure."

"O holy and chaste love! O sweet and soothing affection! . . . It is the more soothing and more sweet, the more the whole of that which is experienced is divine. To have such love, means being made like God."

And also: "It is good for me, O Lord, to embrace Thee all the more in tribulation, to have Thee with me in the furnace of trial rather than to be without Thee even in heaven."

And the vision of Divine Love is a common theme in depictions of St Bernard as seen below

Anastagio Fontebuòni (1571–1626) 
Visione di san Bernardo di Chiaravalle (detail)
Vision of St Bernard (detail)
Oil on canvas
270 x 150 cm
Palazzo degli Alberti, Prato

Workshop of Fra Filippo Lippi 
(ca. 1406–1469)
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux
Tempera and gold on wood
48.3 x 12.7 cm
The Metropolitan Museum, New York

It is thought that the above painting is from Santa Maria delle Carmine  (of the Carmelite Order) in Florence

Below  we see the statue of St Bernard in the  Cathedral of St Vaast  in Arras, Pas-de-Calais, France. It was executed by the French sculptor François Jouffroy 1806 - 1882  as one of eight marble statues originally destined for  l'église Sainte-Geneviève in Paris before it was taken over, secularised  and became the Panthéon

It was moved to Arras in 1934.

Below we see the photograph made of the statue when it was purchased from the Salon in 1877 by the French state

The saint was born in a chateau near Dijon, beside a village now known as Fontaine-lès-Dijon

He was born into a family of saints

His mother Alèthe de Montbard (1070-1107) is considered a saint and in 1250 her remains were translated to lie beside those of her son, St Bernard, in the monastery of Clairvaux

His elder brother Gérard de Clairvaux (d. 1138) and his sister Ombeline de Jully (1092 - 1135) are also saints

In the sixteenth century the Order purchased the site and a church and basilica were built but these were expropriated by the French state at the French Revolution and on the Separation of Church and State at the beginning of the twentieth century 

Here is a .pdf file on what is now the site of the birth place of St Bernard of Clairvaux, which has now become a place of pilgrimage once again

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