Saint Bernard of Menthon and his Wonder Dogs
Saint Bernard of Montjoux (Italian: San Bernardo di Mentone) or Bernard of Menthon was probably born in Italy. He became a priest, and then he was made Vicar General of Aosta, and spent more than four decades doing missionary work in the Alps. He is credited to be the founder of the famed hospice and monastery which has served travelers for nearly a millennium as a refuge in the most dangerous part of the western Alps.
Animal Guides and Rescuers
Since the most ancient times, there has been a path across the Pennine Alps leading from the Aosta Valley to the Swiss canton of Valais. The traditional route of this pass is covered with perpetual snow from seven to eight feet deep. It drifts sometimes accumulate to the height of forty feet. Although the pass was dangerous, especially in the springtime on avalanches, French and German pilgrims often used it on their way to Rome.
This is called Saint Bernardo’s pass, the most famous pass through the Alps in the history of Italy, through which Napoleon passed with his troops, determined to conquer the territory.
The Witness of the dangers of the passage and pilgrims involved in storms or hit by small avalanches was buried in the snow. This way, Saint Bernard created this inn; he placed some disciples there, in the middle of the eleventh century, on the top of the mountain.
The monks also began breeding dogs who’d be perfect for the sorts of mountain rescues needed in the area. The breed that resulted — now known as St. Bernard — is an enormous dog with a low-hanging, heavy tail and a white coat with red or brown brindle, and black around the face. Their temperament is that of a “gentle giant” — calm, sweet, and wonderful with children. These beautiful animals are often shown in pictures sporting little wooden kegs around their necks with which to bring brandy to the stranded in order to revive them.
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