VATICAN CITY (VIS) - In his general audience, held this morning in St. Peter's Square, the Pope spoke about Peter the Venerable, whom he described as "an admirable example of a man rigorously ascetic with himself yet understanding towards others".
Peter the Venerable, the Holy Father explained, was born around the year 1094. In 1122 he "was elected as abbot of Cluny", and died in 1156. "He cultivated friendship, particularly that of his monks, who were wont to confide in him sure of being accepted and understood".
"This holy abbot is an example for monks and other Christians in our own time, with its frenetic pace of life in which episodes of intolerance and lack of communication, of division and conflict, are not infrequent", said the Pope. "His witness invites us to unite our love for God with love for neighbour, and never to cease creating bonds of fraternity and reconciliation".
Benedict XVI highlighted how Peter the Venerable, "with profound ecclesial sensibility, affirmed that the vicissitudes of the Christian people must be felt 'in the depths of the heart' by everyone who considers themselves to be 'members of the Body of Christ'. And he added: 'they are not nourished by the Spirit of Christ who do not feel the wounds of the Body of Christ' wherever they may occur".
The Pope went on to explain how Peter "also showed great concern and solicitude for people outside the Church, particularly Jews and Muslims. In order to favour understanding with Muslims, he commissioned a translation of the Koran".
The Pope also emphasised the abbot's "love for the Eucharist and his devotion to the Virgin Mary", as well as his "predilection for literary activities, for which he had a talent".
"Although he was not a systematic theologian, he was nonetheless a great investigator of the mystery of God. His theology had its roots in prayer, especially liturgical prayer. Among the mysteries of Christ he preferred that of the Transfiguration, which prefigures the Resurrection. It was, in fact, he who introduced this feast to Cluny" with the aim of favouring "contemplation of the glorious face of Christ".
For Peter the Venerable the ideal for monks to follow "consists in 'tenacious adherence to Christ' through ... silent contemplation and constant praise of God".
"If this lifestyle, associated with daily work represents ... the ideal for monks, it can, to a large extent, also represent an ideal for all Christians who wish to become true disciples of Christ, characterised by their own tenacious adherence to Him through humility, hard work and a capacity for forgiveness and peace".