Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
October 19, 2009
Medieval abbot's mild spirit offers an example for today, says
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
VATICAN CITY - The ability of a 12th-century French abbot to unite love of God and neighbour with pragmatism in everyday life is a worthy quality for Christians today to strive for, Pope Benedict said.
The pope praised Peter the Venerable, who led the powerful Benedictine abbey in Cluny, France, for more than 30 years.
Peter had an ability to maintain inner tranquillity while guiding his monastery and order through tumultuous times, the pope said.
At his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square Oct. 14, Pope Benedict once again employed the example of an exceptional figure from the past to illustrate universal traits that contemporary Christians should cultivate.
Peter the Venerable was born around 1094 in Auvergne, France, and died in his abbey on Christmas Day, 1156. He was known for his "mildness, equilibrium, lucidity and special ability to mediate," the pope said.
He could be severe in the running of his monastery, but was so attentive to his monks that "they all confided in him, certain that they would be welcomed and understood," he said.
Peter described his own nature as "leaning toward indulgence, inciting me to the habit of forgiveness," he said.
Faced with the delicate task of managing the abbey "among powers and lords," Peter was able to "preserve a tranquil life thanks to his sense of balance and his realism," the pope said.
He is credited with reforming the abbey and being influential both in his order and as a papal counsellor.
"He's a model for both monks and Christians of our time, which is characterized by frenetic rhythms and examples of intolerance, incommunicability, division and conflict," the pope said.
The study of his life encourages the faithful "to unite love for God and love for our neighbour and to never tire of opening the door to reconciliation," Pope Benedict said.
SEEDS OF THE WORD
The pope said Peter was open not only to his own neighbours but also to other faiths, especially Judaism and Islam. He stood out from his contemporaries by studying Islam from original sources and commissioning their translation.
Peter was the author of many important writings on the Eucharist and Mary, "using paper to spread the seeds of the Word," the pope said.
His admirers and his order honoured Peter the Venerable, also known as Peter of Montboisson, as a saint, but he has never been canonized.
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