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‘I Go Up to Heaven to Learn’

Hugh O’Reilly
It was August in the year 1153, and the time had arrived when the holy St. Bernard of Clairvaux approached death. This was after he had done many miracles, and had made 171 monasteries, and had written many books and treatises.

moun lebanon

St. Bernard led the Abbot to Mount Lebanon

And so he accomplished the days of his life in the 63rd year of his age, in the year of our Lord 1153 after 40 years of monastic life. He slept in Our Lord among the hands of his sons in the Abbey he had founded in Clairvaux, and his glory showed his departing from this earth to many people.

On the day of his death, he appeared to an Abbot in a faraway monastery and ordered him to follow him, and he so did.

And then St. Bernard said: "We have come to the Mount of Lebanon. Here I shall leave you, and I shall ascend up on high."

And the Abbot asked St. Bernard why he would go up and leave him.

The Saint replied: "For to learn, I will go up."

st bernard

‘Here on this earth there is no real science’

And the Abbot, marveling greatly, said: "What will you learn, father? For in truth we believe that there is none like unto you, that none is so wise in science as you are."

And St. Bernard replied with great gravity: "Here there is no science, nor here is there any knowledge of truth. But there." And he pointed to the summit of the mountain hidden by the clouds, "there above and only there is plenty of science, and on high is the very knowledge of truth."

And with those words he vanished away.

And then that Abbot marked that day, and found that it was on that same day and at that very hour that St. Bernard passed to Our Lord, Who worked for him many and innumerable miracles and to Whom be given laud and praise everlasting.


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Adapted from The Golden Legend by Jacobus Voragine (1275),
 trans. by William Caston, 1483, NY: Arno Press, 1969, p. 477

Posted August 20, 2022

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