Pope Benedict XVI in English - Weekly General Audience
Dear Brothers and Sisters, In our catechesis on the Christian culture of the Middle
Ages, we now turn to William of Saint-Thierry, an outstanding monastic theologian
and a close friend of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux. William took active part in the
twelfth-century movement of monastic renewal and, after serving as abbot of Saint-Thierry,
he entered the Cistercian monastery of Signy. A central theme of his writings is
the nature and power of love, seen as the ultimate vocation and the driving force
of the human spirit. For William, this innate human drive finds perfection in the
love of the triune God, the source and goal of all love. As the culmination of a
process of purification and integration of the affections, the love of God brings
supreme human fulfilment, and a profound experiential knowledge of both God and the
world about us. In William’s celebrated phrase, Amor ipse intellectus est –
love itself brings knowledge. By contemplation of the mysteries of the faith, we
grow in the image of God and, by uniting our will to his, we become one with him.
May the example and teaching of William of Saint-Thierry strengthen our desire to
love God above all things and to let that love overflow in love of our neighbour.
May we thus discover authentic joy and the foretaste of eternal bliss.
* *I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s Audience,
including the priests from Scotland celebrating their ordination jubilees and the
students and staff from Saint Mary’s High School, Casino, Australia. May your advent
visit to Rome be a time of deep spiritual renewal. Upon all of you I invoke God’s