Monday 19 April 2021

Saint Bernard Abbot of Clairvaux Doctor of the Church - Alice Curtayne

Saint Bernard Abbot of Clairvaux Doctor of the Church
The Anthonian Press
Dublin (1931)

A few years back I encountered the works of Alice Curtayne. I became fascinated by them. I was able to track down about a dozen of the 32 books and booklets I believe she wrote. But it became harder and harder to find them, let alone at a reasonable price. The version I was able to track down literally crumbled as I read it. By the time I had finished this booklet twice both covers were off, and every of the other pages had split. And every time it moved it left crumbles of paper. But it was so worth tracking down and reading.

The book was first published in 1931 by the Anthonian Press, Temple Street, Dublin, C.14. And was printed in Ireland. It received:
     Nihil Obstat: Michael L. Dempsey S.T.L., Cnsor Theol. Dept
     Imprimi potest: Eduardus, Archiep. Dublinen., Hiberniae Primas.
     Dublini, die 12 Julii, 1933.

So the edition I laid my hands on is from at least 1933. The first half of this booklet is about Bernard and his role in the Cistercians and all of Europe during his lifetime. The second half is about his friendship with Saint Malachy and the founding of Cistercians in Ireland. It makes reference to another volume being needed on that friendship and in 1954 penned, Saint Bernard and His Friend Saint Malachy. Which I have yet been able to lay my hands on.

The cover of this booklet does not even contain Curtayne’s name. The title on the cover is St Bernard Doctor of the Church, the title on the title page is Saint Bernard Abbot of Clairvaux and Doctor of the Church. The back cover has No. 31 and something below that has been obliterated over time. The inside front cover has a prayer by Jas. A. McDermott it is Sr. Bernard’s MeMorare. The inside of the back cover has an image I believe of a flower or plant with these words:

 “O Clement 
O Pious
O Sweet

The book also contains several Illustrations:

Authentic Portrait of St. Bernard
St. Malachy Archbishop of Armagh, Friend of St. Bernard
St. Christian O’Connarchy
Blessed Eugene III.Pope 
Alexander III.

It also contains 2 Photo reproductions:

Mellifont Abbey was the Scene of one of the Emancipation Celebrations of 1929.
The Centenery

If this had been an eBook there were several passages I would have highlighted. Some of them are:

“It would be impossible within the space of the present booklet to relate all Bernard’s activities, but his three main enterprises must be told in order to convey some ide of his towering importance in European life. These were: his healing of schism in the Church; the episode of his duel with Abelard; and his preaching of the Crusade.”

“His monastic foundations increased to a total that is nearly as incredible as his written output. During his forty years as a Cistercian, he founded one hundred and sixty-three monasteries all over Europe, directing and largely organizing himself this chain of religious houses. These increased to the number of three hundred and forty-three before his death.

“From this life, bewildering in the very complexity of its achievements, I want the reader to grasp one single quality chiefly, what I can only describe as the Roman-ness of Bernard. The soul of orthodoxy, he was the greatest protagonist of the Faith in Europe, and a director of ecclesiastical affairs from their very center. While being a most obedient child of the Papacy, circumstances made him the counsellor of Honorius, the staunch defender of Innocent II, and the spiritual director of Eugenius III. He was, therefore, a sure interpreter of the mind of the church; his opinion counted in Christendom; his word had more authority and weight than that of any other living man in Europe.”

“Malachy was in the prime of life, probably in his forty-sixth year, when he first met Bernard. There is a strange conformity in the lives of the two Saints, which could be extended to great length if set out in its fulness.”

“After Malachy’s return to Ireland the two Saints corresponded, of necessity, about the foundation of a Clairvaux in Ireland. Saint Bernard trained his four Gaelic disciples for two years, and then he sent them back to their country, accompanied by nine Frenchmen, to form the first Cistercian monastery in Ireland.”

This was a wonderful little booklet to read. And every time I track down one of Curtayne’s works, I wish that they were all back in print. Thankfully Cluny Media has been working on that and has reprinted 6 of her works and one she contributed to. If you get the chance to read this I strongly encourage you to do so. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2021 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books and Booklets by Alice Curtayne:
A Recall to Dante
Francis Ledwidge: A Life of the Poet
Lough Derg: St. Patrick's Purgatory
Patrick Sarsfield
Saint Anthony of Padua
St. Bernard Doctor of The Church 1933
The New Woman Transcript of a Talk
The servant of God, Mother Mary Aikenhead

Books Edited by Alice Curtayne:
The Complete works of Francis Ledwidge

Books Translated by Alice Curtayne:
Labours in the Vineyard by Giovanni Papin

Books Contributed to by Alice Curtayne:

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