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St. Bernard Preaching the Crusade - III

The Miracles of St. Bernard as
He Preached the Crusade

Hugh O’Reilly
From the Vita Bernardi by Gaufrid, we hear of the many miracles worked by St. Bernard as he preached the Crusade through Germany and France.

On January 10, 1147, the preacher of the Cross came to Cologne. On that day, at the end of the Solemn Mass that the Saint celebrated at the altar of the Blessed Virgin, a blind girl was healed before all the people and a wealthy matron, who was well-known in the town and who for three years had been unable to move her limbs, arose under his blessing and was again sound.

A painting of St. Bernard performing a miracle

St. Bernard heals a blind man

While the holy Abbot was preaching from the pulpit, a blind old man regained his eyesight. Many more miracles happened that day, and one often could hear the people shouting with joy and gratefulness.

On one occasion, so many people gathered around his living quarters that those within did not dare to open the door for fear of being rushed. Therefore, the Saint stood at the window and the sick were brought to him on a ladder...

At 9 o'clock in the morning many sick people asked the man of God to come out, and they were all the more urgent since they believed that he would leave soon. Bernard went out to the street, blessed the sick, one after the other: Fourteen were healed instantly before the eyes of all.

Shouts of jubilation were heard: “Christ have mercy on us. Kyrie eleison, have mercy on us, o Saints of Heaven.” Gradually the crowd became so huge that nobody could either enter or leave the house of the Abbot.

Therefore, Bernard was taken to the residence of the Archbishop, so that he could leave from there more easily. In the Archbishop's house a deaf and dumb nephew of a bailiff from Cologne and a blind man were healed, along with others.

All were witnesses of these miracles. They did not happen in a hidden corner but before all the people so that God, Who is glorious in His Saints, might be praised by all (Lib. VI, c. 7-9).

On the way to Fontaines, a boy who had never opened his eyelids because he was blind from birth was brought to the holy Abbot. Even those who had seen already many miracles doubted the possibility of a cure.

Bernard, however, without hesitation, laid his hands upon the boy, said a short prayer, opened the eyelids with his fingers and asked whether he could see. The boy cried: “I see you and all the people with hair on their heads.” Cheerfully, he jumped up and shouted with joy, “O God, now I shall no longer stumble against the stones.” (Lib I c., c. 11).

In Frankfurt also God distinguished His servant by letting him work numerous miracles. From all sides sick people arrived and the crowd was so large that one day, when the people could not be restrained any more, the Emperor took off his coat, covered the Saint and carried him in his arms out of the church.

The crusader army outside Damascus during the 2nd crusade

The huge army of those who answered St. Bernard's call gathering outside the gates of Damascus in 1148

Great surprise was caused by the healing of an honorable paralyzed old man from the area, who only with difficulty had reached the man of God. Upon a short prayer of the Abbot, he immediately regained his health, and stood there so safe and strong that he seemed to be not only healed, but changed into a new man. (Lib IV, c. 5, n. 31; cf. lib VI, c. 16, n. 56-67).

By way of Treves and Touí, Bernard returned to France. The marvelous exploits of God accompanied the preacher of the Crusade on all his ways and made his journey through Germany and France a great triumph.

As a result of his preaching, a powerful army, numbering far more than 100,000 men was formed and started out for the Holy Land in May and June of 1147.

This Crusade, blessed by God and approved by the Church, was expected to be a great success, but terminated in disaster because of the pride and failings of the crusaders’ leaders.

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Adapted from Hugo H Hoever. Saint Bernard, The Oracle of the 12th Century,
New York: Catholic Book Publishing Co, 1952, pp. 70-74.
Posted February 23, 2018

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