Saint Bernard of Montjoux, also known as Bernard of Menthon, or Bernard of Aosta, is the patron saint of skiers, alpinists, mountain climbers, and the Alps (McNamara; Craughwell). He was born in the year 923 in the Château de Menthon in Arles, France. His family life is unknown, but it is assumed that he was born into a wealthy family, and was raised in a small town in Italy near the Alps. He died in the year 1008, and was canonized by Pope Innocent XI. His feast day is on May 28 (Craughwell). Not much is known about his early life, but it is assumed that he was born in France, and then raised in a small town near the foot of the Italian Alps. As a teenager, Bernard was sent by his father to Paris, France to finish his education.
While in Paris, he decided that he would lead a religious life (Craughwell). “Hesitating over what path in life to choose, St. Bernard seemed to hear her (his deceased mother’s) voice and to see her pointing out the cloister to him”(Bunson). Miraculously, his dead mother was speaking to him from the grave, and telling him to choose the religious life.
When he came back from Paris, his father had arranged him a marriage, but he did not want to marry (Craughwell). This is when another one of his miracles occurred. He called upon St. Nicholas, and asked him for advice. He heard a voice that commanded him to flee from home, and pursue the religious life.
At this time, all the doors of his house were locked, so he had to break an iron bar in order to get out of his house. This is considered to be one of his miracles (Brewer). After he left his house, he went to live with Peter, the archdeacon of Aosta. Peter’s house then became Bernard’s seminary, where he prepared for being ordained into the priesthood (Craughwell). Father Bernard, a very Catholic man, continued his faith journey into Piedmont, Italy, and near the borders of France and Switzerland. There, he heard many pagan beliefs and superstitions, which he made great effort to fix. In this area, he also founded schools, restored the discipline of the clergy, and made sure that churches were kept clean and orderly (McNamara). He spent the next four decades traveling The Alps, doing missionary work there, and preaching the gospel.
While on these trips, he realized the dangers of the mountain passes. He often came by a pilgrim who had been in an avalanche, or who had died of the cold and harsh weather. This is why he built his first hospice in the mountain pass, now known as the Great St.
Bernard Pass (Craughwell). With this hospice, he helped the pilgrims traveling through this pass that had been exposed to harsh conditions, such as deep snow and strong winds. Other dangers faced by travelers are avalanches, and robbers that would take advantage of the thin, narrow passes, and ambush the hikers, and then steal their equipment. There is a miracle that corresponds with his trips into the mountains. St.
Bernard subdues the dragon of the Alps. The dragon Procus, called “Giant” laid at the foot of the mountain, and was worshipped as a god. St. Bernard and his nine companions came upon the beast, and looked upon the dragon, ready to devour them. He then made the sign of the cross, and threw his cloak over the beast’s neck. It instantly transformed into an iron chain, except for the two ends held in Bernard’s hands. He then yelled out: “C’est ainsi qu un zele accompagne de la priere et de la confiance en Dieu de sarme”(Brewer), which translated means “This is how a zeal accompanies prayer and trust in God of sarme.” His nine companions then killed the dragon, and the two ends of the stole were preserved in the treasury of the abbey of St.
Maurice en ValaisA few years later, he built a second hospice in the pass, now known as Little St. Bernard, in order to help even more pilgrims (Herald; McNamara). To ensure that these hospices were were well supervised, he founded a group called The Canons Regular, a group of monks who were trained to rescue the pilgrims that ventured the two mountain passes. These monks would go out, assisted by a large dog, and search for hikers, mountain climbers, or pilgrims crossing the passes. This was never a very large group, today it consists of only about 70 members.
The Canons are also responsible for the breeding of the large, well-known St. Bernard dog breed, which at the time were used to rescue snowbound travelers (Craughwell; Nevins). In the year 1008, Saint Bernard died of unknown causes in Novara, Italy. I picked St. Bernard for many reasons. One reason I picked him is because he is the patron saint of skiers and climbing, and I like to ski and climb. He also spent almost his whole life in The Alps, which is a place that I would love to go. Another reason I chose him is because I love his work.
He helped so many lost travelers that were venturing the mountain passes that needed aid. Also, he formed The Canons Regular to help more people, and that are still helping those in the Alps today. Next, I chose him because he founded schools so that children could get a better education, and helped to reform churches in his diocese. Finally, I chose St. Bernard because he is a little known Saint. Not many people know about Saint Bernard, so in choosing him, I try to teach everybody that reads this about a new Saint that they had never heard about. I think St.
Bernard was an awesome Saint for so many reasons. He helped many lost travelers in The Alps, sometimes saving their lives, he founded schools so children could get a better education and brought more order to some churches in his diocese, and finally, I like St. Bernard because he is one of the lesser-known sa