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Saint Bernard and the Virgin by Alonso Cano. Source: Public domain

The Virgin Mary Squirted Saint Bernard with Breast Milk


Mythology is filled with an array of outlandish and far-fetched stories. Christianity is no exception. One of the most surprising, at least for me, is the story of the 12th century monk, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, and the Virgin Mary’s breast milk. Even more curious are the numerous artworks inspired by this story.

Born near Dijon in 1090, Bernard of Clairvaux was a monk remembered for his inspirational sermons. He also advocated for the Second Crusade, an ardent believer that Muslims were the children of Satan. I guess the part about “love thy neighbor” wasn’t his strong suit. But one of the most surprising stories related to Saint Bernard is that of being splattered with the Virgin Mary’s breast milk.

Often called the Lactation of Saint Bernard, legend has it that when he challenged the Virgin to monstra te esse matrem, meaning “show yourself to be a mother,” her statue or painting came to life, grabbed her breast and squirted milk into his eye or mouth (depending on which version you follow). Some claim this gave him wisdom, while other accounts assert that it cured his eye infection. Alternative reports state that the Virgin Mary appeared to Bernard in a vision.

Saint Bernard and the Virgin by Alonso Cano. (Public domain)

Saint Bernard and the Virgin by Alonso Cano. (Public domain)

The tale of Saint Bernard and the Virgin Mary’s breast milk became exceptionally popular in religious iconography and has been depicted many times in devotional artwork over the centuries. Some of these are uplifting works of art, while others range from hilarious to downright creepy.

This imagery came to obsess Flemish, Dutch and German audiences in the 15th century, inspired by the idea of religious artwork miraculously coming to life. Renaissance Quarterly highlighted that although Saint Bernard preferred the use of the spoken word and music rather than visual signs of devotion, he did use the theme of milk in his writing as a way to represent the nurturing nature of religious scripture.

15th-century depiction of the Lactatio Bernardi, entitled Virgin and Child with Saint Bernard, from the Wallraf Richartz Museum in Cologne. (Public domain)

15th-century depiction of the Lactatio Bernardi, entitled Virgin and Child with Saint Bernard, from the Wallraf Richartz Museum in Cologne. (Public domain)

The 1290 San Bernardo altar piece from the Church of the Knights Templar in Palma de Mallorca is one of the first, with a veritable fountain of milk gushing into Saint Bernard’s mouth. Some portrayals of the legend show Saint Bernard suckling directly from the Virgin Mary’s breast. Meanwhile, in another 15th-century depiction of the Virgin and Child with Saint Bernard from the Wallraf Richartz Museum in Cologne, Saint Bernard looks like a pedophile or sexual offender exposed by the #MeToo movement.

In an oil painting by Alonso Cano from the mid-17th century, on display at the Museo del Prado, a statue of the Virgin Mary produces a jet of milk from her breast and aims it from an incredible distance into his mouth. When breastfeeding I never mastered such impressive technique.

Top image: Saint Bernard and the Virgin by Alonso Cano. Source: Public domain

By Cecilia Bogaard



Morgain's picture

In the National Gallery London there’s an enormous oil painting of Hera queen of Olympus squirting milk in an elegant arc across many metres/ yards to feed someone. It’s called Origin of the Milky Way. So Bernie boy was following a respectable ancient tradition..

Shan Morgain

In woke, modern times, cowardice dictates that only Muslims can criticise Judaism and only Jews can criticise Islam, but any fool can criticise Christianity. False Christianity should be criticised, but in a mature, unfoolish way.

Ultimately, those who cannot control their own immaturity are easily controlled by those who control their own ethics by eliminating them completely, with all that such encompasses very much on the table. Congratulations for failing to understand that. However, an attempt at humour in order to deflect from a very serious topic is an all too human coping mechanism. Again, some encourage that, because it does nothing other than make a fool feel better. Comedy is as captured as history is for that reason.

I know a bit about comedy and can write it easily if I choose to. You can't.

Nagurski's picture

Sounds to me Bernard was having a wet dream and came up with the story because he was dreaming about Jesus’s Milk and he felt guilty for being turned on by all the paintings of Mary’s boobs.

There is more chance of a statue squirting milk without a miracle than of MeToo solving the problem that it is supposed to tackle. Where is the genuine MeToo exposé on Ghislaine Maxwell's client list? The information is available, but avoided.

Women and trans-women are often used for grooming because they're trusted. Of course, most women may be trusted not to abuse, but those like Maxwell are arguably worse than the men. This is despite the fact that the men involved in this abuse are awfully creepy, except to call it abuse is to not plumb the full depths of depravity involved.

Bringing MeToo into this article was trite, as was the reference to the saint's supposed attitude towards Islam. I have no interest in the saint, nor do I believe saints to necessarily have been saintly. At least one modern female saint was involved in sexual trafficking. I haven't heard MeToo talk about that. Odd, isn't it?

This saint's life is lost in time. Was he a true Christian or a Satanist in disguise? Satanists have infiltrated all Abrahamic faiths, which means that some of the supposed adherents of all Abrahamic faiths are, indeed, the children of Satan and, quite possibly, only a miracle will fix it.

Did this miracle happen? Probably not. However, it is worth considering that should humanity, from the bowels of Hell we are heading into, be extracted by some miracle, some of what is considered ethical today shall be rightly abhorred.

It is not what one knows that provides success these days as much as what one is prepared to not say. This article doesn't say an awful lot. It does, however, speak volumes about the destruction of true Christianity which is twofold - to pull it down from without and to pull it down from within.

That is not to say this saint's story is true Christianity, it may or may not be, but simply that some other history articles of this type can be true Satanism.

Cecilia Bogaard's picture


Cecilia Bogaard is one of the editors, researchers and writers on Ancient Origins. With an MA in Social Anthropology, and degree in Visual Communication (Photography), Cecilia has a passion for research, content creation and editing, especially as related to the... Read More

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