Saint Bernard of Montjoux
St. Bernard of Montjoux (c. 923–1008 A.D.), also known as St. Bernard of Menthon, was born to a wealthy and noble family in the Kingdom of Arles (present day France and Switzerland). As an adult he refused an honorable marriage and determined instead to give his life in service to the Church. He became a priest in northern Italy and spent more than four decades doing missionary work in the Alps. He built schools and churches, and is especially known for aiding travelers. The area where he ministered had an ancient, snowy, and dangerous pass winding through the mountains along which pilgrims traveled to and from Rome. To serve the pilgrims St. Bernard built a hospice at the highest point of the pass, 8,000 feet above sea level. Later he founded another hospice along another smaller pass. St. Bernard obtained papal approval for communities of priests to serve in the hospices, which have generously aided travelers for more than a millennium. The priests and their well-trained dogs (the St. Bernard breed named for the saint) would seek and rescue lost pilgrims. St. Bernard was declared the patron saint of skiers and mountain climbers by Pope Pius XI in 1923. His feast day is celebrated on May 28th.
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