St. Bernard and tears for baptism

St. Bernard of Clairvaux wrote to a couple that had a miscarriage. In response to their question, “What is going to happen to my child? The child didn’t get baptized,”  St. Bernard said, “Your faith spoke for this child. Baptism for this child was only delayed by time. Your faith suffices. The waters of your womb — were they not the waters of life for this child? Look at your tears. Are they not like the waters of baptism? Do not fear this. God’s ability to love is greater than our fears. Surrender everything to God.”

This anecdote is on several sites for grieving couples. I do not wish in any way to add to anyone’s grief, and the closing line of the alleged saying is excellent advice no matter who originated it. But a friend asked if I knew which letter contains this.

According to Wikipedia, St. Bernard wrote 547 letters that are still extant. The Patrologia Latina has 460 of them (perhaps the others have been found in the centuries since the PL was prepared). The invaluable site Documenta Catholica Omnia has these 460 as Word documents I can search. (They are grouped into 100 per file, except the last file, so I had to do only five downloads, not 460.)

The letters are in Latin, so I chose relatively unusual words in the possible quotation. I settled on lacrima (tear) and baptismus (baptism). Note for Latin scholars: I actually searched for the letters lacri and baptis so that any ending would match. In particular, the word baptism can occur in masculine, feminine, and neuter form. Just searching for baptis avoids the whole issue.

I searched all the letters first for baptis and then, independent of the first search, for lacri so as to pick up places where OCR/typing might have gotten one word or the other wrong. I found no matches. The phrase might be in one of the 87 letters I don’t have access to; I am pretty confident it’s not in any of the 460 I do have.

I was unable to find any citations by Googling. The alleged quotation is not listed on Wikiquote.

Because of the 87 letters I don’t have, I’m reluctant to say for certain that St. Bernard did not write this. But I am also reluctant to say that he did.

St. Catherine of Siena: The world is rotten because of silence

We’ve had enough exhortations to be silent. Cry out with a thousand tongues-I see the world is rotten because of silence.

Attr. St. Catherine of Siena

The quotation doesn’t sound implausibly attributed to her, but can it be shown to be authentic?

I will spare you the details of my long and fruitless search. Eventually, I semi-punted and asked an Italian-speaking friend, Fr. Bryan Jerabek, for help, hoping it would be easier to find it in Italian. He told me that medieval Italian is not the same as modern Italian, but he’d look anyhow, And, ecco!

It’s her letter #16, to an unidentified “great prelate” (perhaps Cardinal Pietro of Ostia.) That letter doesn’t seem to be on the Internet in English, which is why I couldn’t find it. You can see the medieval Italian version here. The relevant passage is as follows:

Oimè, non più tacere! Gridate con cento migliaia di lingue. Veggo che, per tacere, il mondo è guasto, la Sposa di Cristo è impallidita, toltogli è il colore, perchè gli è succhiato il sangue da dosso, cìoè che il sangue di Cristo, che è dato per grazia e non per debito.

Fr. Jerabek renders that as:

Be silent no more! Cry out with one hundred thousand tongues. I see that, because of this silence, the world is in ruins, the Spouse of Christ has grown pale; the color is taken from her face because her blood has been sucked out, that is the blood of Christ, which is given as a free gift and not by right.

So the currently-circulating version of the quotation is not quite accurate. “We’ve had enough exhortations to be silent” doesn’t appear (I suspect it got tacked on when someone used St. Catherine’s words in response to an exhortation to silence), and it’s 100K tongues, not simply 1,000. But I’m going to call the rest of it close enough.