Born in 1090, Bernard of Clairvaux died sixty-three years later, and was canonized in 1174. His friends and brothers began writing his official life even before he died, so convinced were they of his personal holiness and his importance to the Church of his day. Not everyone who knew him, however, liked him, no matter how much they may have admired his holiness. For nine centuries, those who have read his works and studied his activities have experienced a similar ambivalence. Some regard this 'most controversial and provocative of saints' as a great director of souls; others consider him an ecclesiastical busybody. In The Difficult Saint, Brian Patrick McGuire examines various facets of Bernard's life and the legend that survived him from the perspective of the Middle Ages and of the modern world. 'I want to suggest', he writes, 'that Bernard becomes more understandable as one grows older and gains more life experience'.