Image: Papal Bull of Pope Alexander III establishing the Abbey de Fontenay | photo by Ji-Elle
Saint of the Day for May 8
(1102 – 1175)
Saint Peter of Tarentaise’s Story
There are two men named Saint Peter of Tarentaise who lived one century apart. The man we honor today is the younger Peter, born in France in the early part of the 12th century. The other man with the same name became Pope Innocent the Fifth.
The Peter we’re focusing on today became a Cistercian monk and eventually served as abbot. In 1142, he was named archbishop of Tarentaise, replacing a bishop who had been deposed because of corruption. Peter tackled his new assignment with vigor. He brought reform into his diocese, replaced lax clergy, and reached out to the poor. He visited all parts of his mountainous diocese on a regular basis.
After about a decade as bishop, Peter “disappeared” for a year and lived quietly as a lay brother at an abbey in Switzerland. When he was found out, the reluctant bishop was persuaded to return to his post. He again focused many of his energies on the poor.
Peter died in 1175 on his way home from an unsuccessful papal assignment to reconcile the kings of France and England.
We probably know a lot of people who would welcome the chance to receive some honor or honorary position. They relish the thought of the glamour and glory. But saints like Peter of Tarentaise remind us that humility and the avoidance of glory is the way of the Gospel.