Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Medieval Studies

First Advisor

Dr. E. Rozanne Elder

Second Advisor

Dr. Otto Grundler

Third Advisor

Dr. Brian P. McGuire

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Questions concerning Bernard of Clairvaux’s view of art and architecture have been answered primarily from his words on monastic art found in his work the Apologia. Some scholars have taken these statements out of context to their intended audience. Others have placed them firmly within the framework of his monastic vocation. More recently, scholars have analyzed the treatise in a broader context by using the Apologia to explore the role of art in the Middle Ages. None of these scholars question the fundamental motivation for Bernard’s view on art and the role it plays in the hierarchy of the Saint’s overall thought.

This paper will place Bernard’s ideas on art and architecture within the context of his other views, drawing on his spiritual texts, letters and sermons. Addressing the issue from a broader reading will allow for an understanding of the place of art within the Saint’s focused world view. Bernard’s words on art and architecture in the Apologia must be understood in light of his understanding of human salvation and the process of purification in the monastic life. An investigation of these principles will lead to a discussion of Bernard’s monastic anthropology and soteriology. Bernard’s actions and words must always be viewed in reference to these two priorities.