Fieldtrip: St. Bernard de Clairvaux

Time to step back into time… to St. Bernard de Clairvaux Episcopal Church in North Miami Beach.

St. Bernard//

B found out about it, and did a little research. The building of the Monastery of Our Lady, Queen of Angels  began in Sacramenia, Spain in 1133 and it was completed in 1141. When Bernard of Clairvaux was canonized, the monastery was renamed after him. Cistercian monks occupied it for almost 700 years.

In the 1830s, the monastery was converted into a granary and stable.

Enter William Randolph Hearst. In 1925, he purchased the cloisters and the out buildings, had them dismantled, packed in hay in 11,000 crates, carefully numbered them and sent them to the United States.

Around that time Hoof and Mouth disease was running rampant, so when the shipment arrived, the crates were unpacked and the hay was burned to ensure that the hay was not carrying the disease.

The stones were recrated; alas, they were not renumbered. Also, Hearst had financial difficulties and the stones were sold at auction.

Eventually, in 1952, they were purchased to use as a tourist attraction, and it took $1.5 million and 19 months to figure out how to get the stones in place.

In 1964, Robert Pentland, Jr., purchased the structure to be used as a church…

Notes from B:

Way back when, when some monks’ views were considered a little heretical, there was a major exchange between Abelard and Bernard. Abelard withdrew and Bernard made the Cistercian Order successful under the rules of St. Benedict (ascetics were what we think of as the “typical” deprived monk life).

The Cistercians, by the way, were advocates of the Virgin Mary (so, perhaps that accounts for the renaming tie-in?) Also, B notes, “Maybe that’s why Dante chose Bernard (to guide him to heaven). Bernard espoused the Virgin Mary and Beatrice and Mary were the symbols of purity. Then there was the whole chivalry issue.  (That pedestal is surely double edged — when made into saints, no real woman benefits.)

Bernard is connected to the Second Crusade and also with the Knights Templar, for which he was a major patron. He was a nephew of one of the original nine of these warrior monks.

This day, were lucky to talk to Church Greeter, Myrtle Ford, who pointed out to us that each stone was signed with a symbol that represented the stone mason who made them. That’s how the mason collected his pay… We saw the Jewish star, a cross, two crosses, backwards E, as examples…

Address: 16711 West Dixie Highway, North Miami Beach. (305) 954-1461.



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