Saint Bernard was born in 1091 in Fontaines. He was the third of seven children and was consecrated to the Virgin Mary. When he was nineteen years of age, his mother died, and this saintly young man then turned trustingly to his heavenly Mother and told her, "You will be my mother." Mary indeed proved that she was his mother by protecting him from every danger, especially spiritual dangers.

Having overcome the world, he abandoned it, and together with thirty other companions won by his enthusiastic words, he retired into the solitude of the Cistercian monastery. Here, in the silence of the cloister, Bernard's love for Mary increased greatly. He thought of her continually and sought to imitate her in her virtues. His every act, word and thought was directed to Mary. Such a great lover and affectionate, constant devotee of the Mother of God could not help but win her protection and benevolence. From his boyhood to his death our Saint received continual and very special favors from the Blessed Virgin. During his stay at Chatillon, for example, he fell asleep while waiting in church on Christmas night. He then saw the mystery of the birth of Jesus exactly as it took place in the grotto of Bethlehem, and the Blessed Virgin, handing him the Holy Child said, "Take, Bernard, my Son, the Redeemer of the world."

On another occasion, in the year 1146, when he entered a church and greeted the Blessed Virgin three times, she replied three times: "Hail, Bernard." Likewise, when he hailed a statue of Mary with the words: "Hail Mary," she answered him: "Hail Bernard."

Consumed by hard work, fastings, watches, penance and his most austere way of life, Bernard bid farewell to his monks and dear ones on August 20, 1153, and became recollected in himself. A mysterious light flooded his cell, and Bernard sat up, stretched out his arms and smilingly said, "I am coming." The Blessed Virgin, whom he had loved so deeply, had come to take her beloved Bernard into the kingdom of glory!

     Save me, O Mary, for you are my hope; save me from the pains of hell, but especially from sin, for sin alone has the power to make me lose my soul.   Amen.

Source: Mary, Hope of the world.