Most of us are familiar with the dog known as the St. Bernard. However, many are not aware of how the dog obtained its name or the person from whom the dog takes its name. The saint for whom the dog is named is indeed Bernard. He is known as St. Bernard of Menthon and he lived from around 923 to 1008. Here is a bit of his story.
Preparing for a Life of Nobility
As members of the nobility, his parents were anxious to prepare their son for a life as the heir to his father. For them, this included preparing Bernard for marriage. As was typical of the time and their class, Richard and Bernoline arranged their son's marriage. Bernard's parents selected Marguerite de Miolans who shared their level of nobility. Little did his parents know that young Bernard had secretly discerned that God was calling him climb a different path as a religious.
Sticking to His Calling and Disappointing his Parents
Following his Vocation
Indeed, Bernard was a young man of great promise in the eyes of his teachers and the archdeacon, and he did not fail to live up to their aspirations for him. Eventually, Peter had Bernard prepared for and then ordained a priest. At that time, Bernard hoped to be sent as a missionary to a far flung region of the Alps, which despite the efforts of others, were filled with many who needed to hear the Gospel.
An Apostolate of Hospitality
Man's Best Friend Serves the Pilgrims
In fact, the monasteries and hospices exist to this day. Amazingly, after almost a millennium, the fruit of Bernard's dream continues. During his lifetime, Bernard traveled to Rome and received Pope John XIV's permission to place the care of the monasteries under the Canons Regular of St. Augustine as a new congregation called the Canons Regular of the Hospitaller Congregation.
The monks who served in the two original monasteries would be the seeds that would grow into over 400 monasteries of the order by the 16th century. There were 200 hundred alone in the country of Ireland at that time. Today, the numbers are greatly reduced. Now the number of monks that serve in the monasteries is in the dozens and instead of search and rescue, they mainly serve in parishes.
Closing the Loop
Image: St. Bernard of Menthon
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