Bernard, a charismatic leader, was born near Dijon, France, the son of a knight and landowner. At 23 he entered a Benedictine abbey. Two years later he talked four of his brothers and 26 friends into helping him establish a Cistercian abbey at Clairvaux, from which grew 60 more Cistercian communities. The Cistercians emphasized manual labour and self-sufficiency, though over the centuries academics and education came to dominate their monastery life. A faction of Cistercians known as Trappists then sought to return to their agricultural ways, and are called Cistercians of the Strict Order; Thomas Merton was one. (artist unknown)

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