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Old Calendar: Corpus Christi; St. Augustine of Canterbury, archbishop and confessor; St. Bernard of Montjoux, priest (RM); St. Germanus (RM)
According to the 1962 Missal of Bl. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of St. Augustine of Canterbury. He was sent by St. Gregory the Great to the Anglo-Saxons and is the great Apostle of England and the first Archbishop of Canterbury. He died in 604. His feast in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite is celebrated on May 27.
Historically today is the feast of St. Bernard of Montjoux, an Italian churchman, founder of the Alpine hospices of Saint Bernard. His life was spent working among the people of the Val d'Aosta. He is the patron of mountaineers.
St. Bernard of Montjoux
Bernard may have been the son of Count Richard of Menthon. It seems more likely though that he was of Italian birth. Nothing is really known of his parentage and early life.
Tradition reports that a marriage was being arranged for young Bernard and he fled so as to be free to give his life to God. We do know that he was ordained to the priesthood and that he was appointed Vicar General of the diocese of Aosta, Italy. For approximately forty-two years he traveled throughout the country, visiting the remotest Alpine villages. He would sometimes extend his missionary journeys into the neighboring dioceses of Geneva, Novara and Tarentaise. Bernard had the reputation for enforcing clerical discipline and he built several schools.
He is probably most famous for the hospices he built on the summits of passes over the Alps. Many pilgrims from France and Germany would travel over the Alps on their way to Rome, but it was always a possibility that one would die from freezing along the way. In the 9th century a system of hospices had been attempted, but had lapsed long before Bernard's time. Bernard's hospices in the 11th century were placed under the care of clerics and laymen and were well equipped for the reception of all travelers. Eventually these caretakers became Augustinian a monastery was built close by, still exists today
At some point in time Bernard traveled to Rome to receive formal recognition of the hospices and community and to obtain permission to accept novices. Bernard lived to the age of eighty-five and is believed to have died on May 28, 1081 at St. Lawrence Monastery in Novara, Italy.
A now-famous breed of dogs, known for its endurance in high altitude and cold, was named in honor of this saint. Bernard's life has been the focus of many romantic plays and stories. Many of us may remember childhood stories of St. Bernard dogs coming to the rescue of stranded or injured victims on Alpine slopes. The dogs almost always seem to have a cask of Brandy attached to their collars and when the victims were revived by a good drink the dogs would lead them to safety.
However romance was not what Bernard's life was about. He was strongly committed to the ideals taught by Christ in the Sermon on the Mount. Bernard dedicated his life to bring the message of Christ to all and to correct the abuses of clerical life which he saw. He was deeply concerned for the care of the poor and disadvantaged. Living his life in the Alps he knew the dangers present and did what he could to relieve them. He is a model, not of romance, but of deep love and compassion, in imitation of God whom he loved and served with all his heart reprimanded.
— Excerpted from Christ in the DesertPatron:
Alpinists; mountain climbers; mountaineers; skiers; travelers in the mountains.Symbols:
Man in a mountain setting holding a bishop's crozier; white dog.Things to Do:
St. Germanus, the glory of the Church of France in the sixth century, was born in the territory of Autun, about the year 496. In his youth he was conspicuous for his fervor. Being ordained priest, he was made abbot of St. Symphorian's; he was favored at that time with the gifts of miracles and prophecy. It was his custom to watch the great part of the night in the church in prayer, whilst his monks slept.
One night, in a dream, he thought a venerable old man presented him with the keys of the city of Paris, and said to him that God committed to his care the inhabitants of that city, that he should save them from perishing.
Four years after this divine admonition, in 554, happening to be at Paris when that see became vacant on the demise of the Bishop Eusebius, he was exalted to the episcopal chair, though he endeavored by many tears to decline the charge. His promotion made no alteration in his mode of life. The same simplicity and frugality appeared in his dress, table, and furniture. His house was perpetually crowded with the poor and the afflicted, and he had always many beggars at his own table. God gave to his sermons a wonderful influence over the minds of all ranks of people; so that the face of the whole city was in a very short time quite changed.
King Childebert, who till then had been an ambitious, worldly prince, was entirely converted by the sweetness and the powerful discourses of the Saint, and founded many religious institutions, and sent large sums of money to the good bishop, to be distributed among the indigent.
In his old age St. Germanus lost nothing of that zeal and activity with which he had filled the great duties of his station in the vigor of his life; nor did the weakness to which his corporal austerities had reduced him make him abate anything in the mortifications of his penitential life, in which he redoubled his fervor as he approached nearer to the end of his course. By his zeal, the remains of idolatry were extirpated in France.
The Saint continued his labors for the conversion of sinners till he was called to receive the reward of them, on the 28th of May, 576, being eighty years old.
Excerpted from The Daily Gospel Things to Do: