St Bernard of Clairvaux, Abbot, peacemaker, writer, Doctor of the Church. St. Bernard was one of the most commanding Church leaders of the twelfth century. Although he suffered from constant physical pain, Bernard established 65 monasteries. As a young Abbot, Bernard published a series of sermons developing the understanding of Mary’s mediatorial role in salvation. His writings and extraordinary personal magnetism drew men to the Cistercian monasteries and reached beyond the abbey walls to the ruling powers. He was often sought as an advisor and mediator, he labored for peace and reconciliation between England and France and helped bring about the healing of the papal schism. Bernard’s writings on grace, free will, humility and love are the foundation for the spiritual life. Bernard writes with simplicity and poetic grace of the deepest experiences of the mystical life. His books were the bedside reading of Pope John XXIII and many other pontiffs.