Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem
When about twenty years of age he entered the monastery at Citeaux with five of his brothers. His genius might have secured ecclesiastical preferment, but he chose to dig ditches, plant fields and govern a monastery. He entered the cloister at Citeaux because the monks were few and poor, and when it became crowded because of his fame, and its rule became lax because of the crowds, he left the cloister to found a home of his own. The abbot selected twelve monks, following the number of apostles, and at their head placed young Bernard. He led the twelve to the valley of Wormwood, and there, in a cheerless forest, he established the monastery of Clairvaux, or Clear Valley. His rule was fiercely severe because he himself loved hardships and rough fare. "It in no way befits religion," he writes, "to seek remedies for the body, nor is it good for health either. You may now and then take some cheap herb,--such as poor men may,--and this is done sometimes. But to buy drugs, to hunt up doctors, to take doses, is unbecoming to religion and hostile to purity." His success in winning men to the monastic life was almost phenomenal. It was said that "mothers hid their sons, wives their husbands, and companions their friends, lest they be persuaded by his eloquent message to enter the cloister." "He was avoided like a plague," says one.
Dominic de Guzman, 1170-1221 A.D.
Half-way between Osma and Aranda in Old Castile, Spain, is a little village known as "the fortunate Calahorra." Here was the castle of the Guzmans, where Dominic was born. His family was of high `rank` and character, a noble house of warriors, statesmen and saints. If we accept the legends, his greatness was foreshadowed. Before his birth, his mother dreamed she saw her son under the figure of a black-and-white dog, with a torch in his mouth. "A true dream," says Milman, "for he will scent out heresy and apply the torch to the faggots;" but, as will be seen later, this observation does not rest on undisputed evidence.
Ignatius de Loyola, 1491-1556 A.D.
Inigo Lopez de Recalde, or Loyola, as he is commonly known, was born at Guipuzcoa, in Spain, in 1491. He was educated as a page in the court [pg 262]of Ferdinand the Catholic. He afterwards became a soldier and led a very wild life until his twenty-ninth year. During the siege of Pamplona, in 1521, he was severely wounded, and while convalescing he was given lives of Christ and of the saints to read. His perusal of these stories of spiritual combat inspired a determination to imitate the glorious achievements of the saints.
Trial proof of the key block of center sheet of The Crucifixion, after Tintoretto. National Gallery of Art (Rosenwald Collection).