May 28: The feast of *Saint Bernard of Montjoux*
Today, May 28, we celebrate the feast day of *Saint Bernard of Montjoux* (923-1008), the patron saint of skiers, alpinists, hikers, and travellers in the mountains, and minister to Alpine travellers for over 40 years.
He is remembered for his devotion to the Lord, and tireless preaching of His word to travellers, living and working in the most inhospitable of places, and through warmth and comfort offered to travellers, converting many.
Saint Bernard found his way to the Benedictine Order, in Italy and was ordained a priest. Saint Bernard was later made archbishop of the Alpine Diocese, a most inhospitable route through the mountains between Italy and Switzerland.
This was a common path of pilgrimage for those journeying to Rome, and was also quite dangerous due to weather and thieves. Saint Bernard undertook his charge with vigour, establishing two hospices in the pass that would eventually be named after him—one at the highest point (8,000 feet) and one at the second highest point (7,076 feet). He further built and dedicated a church to Saint Nicholas there.
He filled the buildings with warmth and love, catering to travellers and strangers, always finding time to speak with them about the love of God. Bernard organized roving patrols throughout the mountain pass, driving out the thieves and brigands.
A now-famous breed of dogs, known for its endurance in high altitude and cold, was named in honour of this saint. The Order offered food, clothing, and shelter to the travellers and took care of the unfortunate who perished during the journey. They depended solely on gifts and collections for sustenance.
Saint Bernard’s life was one of simple service in a difficult environment. His hospitality was legendary, and his works survive today in the form of the hospices he established.
His community—the Houses and Congregations of Saints Nicholas and Bernard—remains active today, maintaining the Alpine hospices.
Bernard is believed to have died on May 28, 1081 at the age of 85. He was canonized by Pope Innocent XI in 1681.
*St. Bernard of Montjoux, pray for us.*