St. Bernard lends money to a gambler

Pocket Bard’s notes: I think this is a nice morality story on the value of material wealth vs. spiritual wealth. You don’t often see gamblers turn up in The Golden Legend, and it’s even rarer for them to be redeemed (usually they’re the antagonist). So I like that St. Bernard takes him back once he’s realized his mistake. I also think it’s a valuable lesson to learn about lending money to friends. I personally follow the rule, “When lending money to friends, choose at the outset which you would rather keep, the money or the friends.” It’s served me pretty well so far.

St. Bernard lends money to a gambler
The Golden Legend, Volume II, trans. William Granger Ryan, p.104

One of the monks, who in his earlier life had been a rake and a gambler, was goaded by a malignant spirit and wanted to return to the world. When Saint Bernard could not dissuade him, he asked him what he would do for a living. “I know how to play at dice,” the monk answered, “and I’ll make a living that way!” Bernard: “If I give you some capital, will you come back now and then and divide the profit with me?” The monk agreed gladly and promised to do as requested. Bernard ordered that he be given twenty sols, and off he went. The saint did this to be able to bring him back, and that is what happened. The man lost all he had and came crestfallen to the door of the monastery. His coming was announced to the man of God, who joyfully went out to him and held out his scapular spread wide to receive his share of the winnings. “I didn’t win anything, father,” he said, “and was stripped even of our capital. But take me back, if you will, in place of the money.” Bernard kindly responded: “If that’s the way things are, it’s better that I get you back than that I lose both you and the capital!”


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