He was born Lazare Marcus Manassé Bernard (he later switched his first name and last name) in Nîmes on 15 June 1865, the eldest of four sons of Jonas Bernard and Douce Noémie Rouget. This bourgeois family had introduced the Jacquard loom to Toulouse, and founded one of the first (and very successful) textile mills, producing draperies and passementeries. The family was Jewish, and although not very religious, still celebrated the traditional holidays.
Lazare received his baccalauréat in science, but his passion lay in literature, a passion which he shared with his friend, the poet Ephraïm Mikhaël. It was Mikhaël who, while studying in Paris at the École des Chartes encouraged Bernard to join him and conquer the literary world. Lazare arrived in Paris in 1886, the year in which Édouard Drumont's antisemitic pamphlet Jewish France(La France Juive) was published. Lazare signed up at the École pratique des hautes études (Practical School of Higher Studies). He attended lectures by the abbot Louis Duchesne, for whom the Catholic Institute of Paris created a chair of History of the Church. Lazare's rigour and insistence on precision, his ability to call into question supposedly established facts, had undoubtedly influenced Duchesne, whose History of the Ancient Church (l’Histoire de l’église ancienne) was placed on the Papal index and who reproached Lazare for writing like a "historian" and not a "theologian".
( Taken from Wikipedia)