Lives of the Saints

Our Models and Protectors

April 14
  

Saint Benezet

Confessor
(1165-1184)

Saint Benezet
Saint Benezet

Saint Benezet kept his mother's sheep in the country, and while still a young child was devoted to practices of piety. In his day many persons were being drowned when crossing the Rhone, and Benezet was instructed by God to build a bridge over that rapid river at Avignon. He obtained the approbation of the bishop, proving his mission by miracles, and in 1177 began the work, which he directed during seven years. He died when the major difficulties of the undertaking were over, in 1184.

This remarkable feat of a young boy is attested by public monuments drawn up at that time and still preserved at Avignon, where the story is still known to all. His body was buried upon the bridge itself, which was not finished until four years after his decease. Its construction was attended with miracles from the first laying of the foundations until it was completed in 1188. Other miracles wrought afterwards at his tomb induced the city to build, on the bridge itself, a chapel, and there his body lay for nearly five hundred years. But in 1669, after the greater part of the bridge had fallen through the impetuosity of the waters, the coffin was taken up and opened in 1670, in the presence of the Church's authorities. The body was found entire, without the least sign of corruption; all was perfectly sound, and the color of the eyes still bright, even though, through the dampness of the surroundings, the iron bars around the coffin were much damaged with rust.

Saint Benezet's body was found in the same condition again in 1674, by the Archbishop of Avignon at the time when, accompanied by the Bishop of Orange and a great concourse of nobility, he carried out its translation with great pomp into the Church of the Celestines. That Order had obtained from Louis XIV the honor of being entrusted with the custody of his relics, until such time as the bridge and chapel should be rebuilt.

Reflection. Let us pray for perseverance in good works, trusting in God despite all obstacles.

Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 4; Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler's Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).