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Blessed Peter of Montboissier

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(Better known as PETER THE VENERABLE).

Born in Auvergne, about 1092; died at Cluny, 25 December, 1156. His mother, Blessed Raingarde, offered him to God in the monastery of Sauxillanges of the Congregation of Cluny, where he made his profession at the age of seventeen. He was only twenty years old when he was appointed professor and prior of the monastery of Vezelay, and he discharged his duties in that house, and later in the monastery of Domene, with such success that at the age of thirty he was elected general of the order. The order, which then counted not less than 2000 houses throughout Europe, was in need of reform. The abbot had begun this work when his predecessor, the Abbot Pontius, who had been deposed by the pope, attempted to be reinstated in his office by violence. Our saint had to face other attacks made on his order by St. Bernard himself, who did not fail however to acknowledge the eminent virtue of Peter and was the first to call him Venerable. Peter resisted the attacks with both firmness and meekness, and took occasion of them to write the rules of the Congregation of Cluny, one of the most complete and perfect codes of religious life. He was prominent in resisting the schism caused by the antipope Anacletus II, after the death of Honorius II (1130). With St. Bernard, he was the soul and the light of the General Council of Pisa (1134), and having encouraged Innocent II to stand firm in the midst of persecutions, he predicted the end of the schism, which happened in 1138.

During a visit to Spain (1139) he became interested in Mohammedanism and had the Koran for the first time translated into Latin. He made several journeys to Rome, where the popes entrusted him with delicate missions, and he accompanied Eugene III to the Council of Reims (1147), where the doctrines of Gilbert de la Poree were condemned. Kings and emperors came to him for advice and in the midst of his labours he found time to write numerous letters, valuable theological works on the questions of the day, the Divinity of Christ, the Real Presence, against the Jews and the Mohammedans, and concerning the statutes and the privileges of his order, besides sermons and even verses. Theologians praise the precision of his teaching. When Abelard's doctrine had been condemned at Soissons, Peter opened his monastery to him, reconciled him with St. Bernard and with the pope, and had the joy of seeing him spend the rest of his life under his guidance. He died on Christmas Day, according to his wish, "after a sublime sermon to his brethren on the mystery of the day". Honoured as a saint both by the people and his order, he was never canonized ; Pius IX confirmed the cult offered to him (1862).

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