Born in France, Peter joined the Cistercian order at the age of 20 and also persuaded his father and two brothers to join him in the monastery at Bonnevaux. By the time he was 30, he had been chosen abbot of a new Cistercian house in the Tarentaise mountains, overlooking the pass which was the chief route from Geneva to Savoy, and there he built a hospice for travelers and the sick. Peter enjoyed humbly serving and conversing with the strangers who sought the hospitality of the monks.
In 1142, he was elected Archbishop of Tarentaise, which was very much against his wishes. Reluctantly Peter set about the renovation of the diocese, which was in complete disorder from his incompetent predecessor. He replaced the corrupt cathedral clergy with canons regular of the Order of Saint Augustine, helped the poor, arranged for the education of the young, and was known for his miracles, which included physical healings and the multiplication of provisions during famines.
In 1155, he ran off and secretly offered himself as a lay member of a Cistercian house in a remote area of Switzerland. After a year, however, he was discovered and forced to return to his see.
Peter acted as peacemaker in many disputes and supported Pope Alexander III, even though the antipope Victor IV was supported by the Emperor Barbarossa. In 1174, Pope Alexander sent Peter to attempt a reconciliation between King Louis VII of France and Henry II of England. He did not succeed in his mission, and on returning to Tarentaise, he became ill near Besançon and died as he was being carried into Bellevaux Abbey. He was canonized in 1191.
We all have ideas of the way we’d like our sanctity to be achieved. For St. Peter the idea was to live a quiet life as a simple monk. But God had other plans for him, and He may have other plans for us, too. Are we willing to follow where He leads, even if it’s not what we would choose for ourselves?
Once Peter realized that God indeed wanted him to remain Archbishop of Tarentaise, he threw himself whole-heartedly into his duties. We too must strive to recognize God’s will for our lives and then keep our eyes always ahead, hands to the plow, and never look back.
Other Saints We Remember Today
Apparition of St. Michael the Archangel (525), Italy
St. Desideratus (550), Bishop of Bourges