Peter of Tarentaise
|Saint Peter of Tarentaise|
Bellevaux Abbey, France
|Honored in||Roman Catholic Church|
|Canonized||1191 by Pope Celestine III|
Peter was born in 1102 at Saint-Maurice-l'Exil, France, near Vienne, a town in the Rhône-Alpes mountains. He joined the Cistercian monastic order, and in so doing set a model for several other members of his family. In 1132, he became the abbot of the monastery at Tamié in the Tarentaise area of Savoy, France. In 1142, he reluctantly accepted the position as the Bishop of Tarentaise. In that capacity, he applied the Cistercian principles he had learned as an abbot to restore the then-decaying diocese, and met with a good deal of success.
His specific concerns included the welfare of travelers to and from Switzerland and Italy. For their convenience, he rebuilt an inadequate hospice at Little St. Bernard Pass. He also funded a charity which distributed food to farms in the surrounding hills during May. This charity would take the name of pain de Mai ("May bread") and became a tradition continued in the region until the French Revolution.
Peter does not seem to have been particularly happy as a bishop, however. It was reported that in 1155 he disappeared for a year, only to be found in a remote abbey in Switzerland. He also frequently visited the Grand Chartreuse monastery while bishop. There, he was looked after by a monk who would later become known as Saint Hugh of Lincoln.
Peter also worked on behalf of Pope Alexander III in his struggles with Antipope Victor, who was contending for the position of Pope. Because of these efforts, Peter was later appointed to assist in negotiations between King Louis VII of France and King Henry II of England. He died while doing so, at the monastery at Bellevaux, France, in 1174.
- Attwater, Donald and Catherine Rachel John. The Penguin Dictionary of Saints. London:Penguin Books, 3rd edition, 1995. ISBN 0-14-051312-4.
- Rabenstein, Katherine (August 1999). "Peter of Tarentaise, OSB Cist. B". Saints O' the Day for May 8. Archived from the original on 2007-02-06. Retrieved 2012-02-23.