Construction of the Monastery of St. Bernard de Clairvaux was begun in the year 1133 AD in Sacramenia, near Segovia in northern Spain. Completed eight years later, the monastery was named in honor of a Cistercian monk and mystic, who was one of the most influential church leaders of his time. Cistercian monks occupied the Monastery for nearly 700 years. After a social revolution in the 1830s, the monastery’s cloisters were seized, sold, and converted into a granary and stable.
In 1925, William Randolph Hearst purchased the cloisters and the monastery’s outbuildings. The structures were dismantled stone by stone, bound with protective hay, packed in more than 11,000 wooden crates, and shipped to the United States. The massive crates remained in a warehouse in Brooklyn, New York, for 26 years. In 1952, they were purchased by two entrepreneurs for use as a tourist attraction. It took 19 months and nearly $20 million dollars (in today’s currency) to put the monastery back together. In 1953, Time magazine called it “the biggest jigsaw puzzle in history.”
In 1964, a multimillionaire banker, philanthropist and benefactor of many Episcopal churches named Colonel Robert Pentland, Jr. purchased the cloisters and presented them to the Bishop of Florida. Today, the parish Church of St. Bernard de Clairvaux is an active and growing congregation in the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida.