Bernard of Aosta

(d. 1081) French monk

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(d. 1081),

priest. Probably of Italian rather than French parentage, he became a priest and later vicar-general in the diocese of Aosta, which for forty-two years he systematically visited, especially in its more remote areas, preaching, founding schools, building and conserving churches. He also took special care of Alpine travellers, for whom he built guest-houses on the passes later called after him the Great and the Little St Bernard. The dangers to travellers through snowdrifts or from brigands were indeed extreme: their needs were met by the Austin Canons houses founded by Bernard as well as later by the specially trained breed of dogs named after him. Bernard died at the age of eighty-five. He was named patron of mountain-climbers by Pius XI (himself a mountaineer) in 1923. Feast: 28 May.

AA.SS. Iun. II (1698), 1071–89 contains a late Life, compiled in Savoyard rather than Italian interests;A. Colombo in Biblioteca della società storica subalpina, xvii (1903), 291–312;Anal. Boll., lxiii (1945), 269–70;B. T. A., ii. 411–13;Bibl. SS., ii. 1325–34.

Subjects: Christianity.

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