Third child of a family of seven, son of Tescelin Sorrel and Aleth of Montbard, Bernard was born into a family of gentry, at the castle of Fontaine-les-Dijon (Côte d’Or) in 1090. At the School of Châtillon sur Seine where he was sent at the age of nine, he showed particular interest in literature.
The “New Monastery” was founded in 1098 on the territory of Citeaux by Robert, a Benedictine monk who came from Molesmes with a few brothers from his community. One of them, Stephen Harding, had just been elected abbot when in 1112 (the date traditionally accepted, although some people say 1113), Bernard, twenty-two years old, joined the young foundation, with thirty friends and members of his family. This was a real windfall, because this mass influx gave the Cistercian Order a big boost. Bernard was a tireless coach for people; a leader.
Bernard has an european dimension and this is one of the most attractive aspects of his personality. He has relationships with men and women throughout the christian Europe. Cistercian monasteries are founded in each region from Scotland as far as Greece, from Portugal as far as Baltic Sea. He has left us a spiritual heritage and a personal presence, quite precious in our changing world.