LATROBE, PA – On Thursday, Feb. 7 at 7 p.m., Fr. Robert Keffer, O.S.B., will present a lecture entitled Amplexus Bernardi – The Mystical Theology of St. Bernard of Clairvaux in the Luparello Lecture Hall on the Saint Vincent College campus. The lecture is free of charge, and is sponsored by The Saint Vincent Gallery, and light refreshments will be available immediately following.
Keffer, a teacher of art history and an accomplished painter, will provide a PowerPoint presentation that will explore St. Bernard of Clairvaux’s Christology and mythical visions, as well as discuss how artists since the 12th century have depicted the love of the soul longing for Christ.
St. Bernard of Clairvaux remains among the most influential members of the Cistercian Order of monks. He was known as the “Man of the 12th Century” and the “Doctor Mellifluous,” or, ‘”honey-tongued doctor,” for his ability to draw meaning and inspiration from sacred Scripture. He was also a mystic, having recorded two experiences, including The Lactation, where he received the milk of Divine Wisdom from the breast of the Virgin Mary, and The Amplexus, where the crucified Christ embraced him from the cross.
The keynote of Bernardine spirituality is the love between the soul and Christ. This is exemplified in St. Bernard’s collection of sermons on the Song of Songs in the Old Testament. For St. Bernard, Christ was the divine bridegroom and the individual soul was the bride. This upcoming lecture will explore the significance of St. Bernard’s experience in mystical theology and the many visual interpretations of this event found in sacred art.
Keffer spent the first 22 years of his monastic vocation as a member of the Cistercian Order of the Common Observance. He completed his monastic formation at the Abbaye d’Hauterive in Switzerland, studying the life and sermons of St. Bernard of Clairvaux. He has studied at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, the Pontifical University of the Angelicum and most recently at the Sotheby’s School of Art.
The lecture coincides with the Saint Vincent Gallery’s current exhibit, A Hidden Wholeness: The Zen Photography of Thomas Merton. Merton, a Trappist monk from the Abbey of Gethsemane in Kentucky, was formed in Cistercian spirituality. His photographs, paired with writings, are on display through March 8. The Gallery is open Tuesday through Thursday, 3 – 6 p.m., Friday through Sunday from 1 – 4 p.m., and by appointment. For more information, visit www.stvincent.edu/gallery, or call 724-805-2107.
Image: The Amplexus Bernardi - Jesus embracing St. Bernard from the cross
YouTube: Saint Vincent College