Bernard of Tiron

(c. 1046—1117)

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Founder and Abbot, 1046–1117.

As with some other peripatetic founders, his biography is vague on dates and on the reasons for his changes of plan. Originally a monk of Saint-Cyprien (Poitiers), he moved to Saint-Savin after ten years and became prior. He tried to improve a relaxed regime for twenty years, but then left to be a hermit at Craon (Brittany), where a number of solitaries had come together, following several abbots and rules. Their general principles of monastic reform resembled those of contemporary Cîteaux, but most of them remained juridically independent. Bernard was persuaded to return to his original home of Saint-Cyprien to become abbot, but when Hugh of Cluny claimed jurisdiction and tithes, Bernard passionately resisted and resigned, became a hermit again and in 1109 founded a new monastery at Tiron. This simple and austere reform warmly welcomed the poor and refugees, and favoured manual craft work, but reduced the time for psalmody and initially had only one class of monks. Tiron prospered and made many foundations (22 abbeys and 100 priories) including St Dogmaels in Wales (1115), which founded Caldey and Pill. It lacked the juridical structure of Cîteaux and never obtained widespread support. In the 17th century they merged with the Maurist Benedictines. The new Roman Martyrology stresses his eremitical ideals, but also his success in attracting and forming numerous disciples. Feast: 14 April.

Life by Geoffrey (c.1137) in AA.SS. April. II, 220 et seq.;M.O. pp. 200–2;B.L.S., iv. 98;Bibl. SS., iii. 67. Life by B. Beck (1998), see Anal. Boll. cxviii (2000), 195–7.

Subjects: Christianity — Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500).

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