dimanche 10 janvier 2016

Saint PIERRE ORSEOLO, doge, ermite et moine bénédictin

Saint Pierre Orseolo

Doge de Venise ( 997)

En 976, il suscita un coup d’État pour supplanter le doge Pierre IV, qu'il fit assassiner pour devenir, à son tour, doge de Venise. C'est du moins ce que dit saint Pierre Damien. Toujours est-il qu'il déploya les plus grands talents dans l'administration de la République. En deux ans, il restaura la paix, reconstruisit l'église Saint Marc et les quartiers incendiés. Le 1er septembre 978, il disparut sans laisser de traces. Sous un faux nom, il avait gagné l'abbaye de Cuxa dans le Roussillon et y passa le reste de sa vie dans l'expiation, la pénitence et la prière. Sa femme l'avait laissé partir, sachant et comprenant la volonté de son époux. Leur fils unique devint à son tour doge de Venise et suivit l'exemple de son père dans la probité et le service de la République.

Au monastère de Cuxa dans les Pyrénées, vers 987, saint Pierre Urséol, qui, de doge de Venise, embrassa la vie monastique, brilla par sa piété et son austérité et termina sa vie dans un ermitage, près du monastère.

Martyrologe romain

SOURCE : http://nominis.cef.fr/contenus/saint/407/Saint-Pierre-Orseolo.html

Saint Pierre Orseolo

Originaire de Venise, dès l’âge de 20 ans il est placé à la tête d’une flotte chargée de chasser les pirates qui écument la mer Adriatique et sa mission est un succès. En 976, le doge Pierre Candiani IV trouve la mort dans un incendie qui ravage une partie de la ville de Venise. Pierre Orseolo, qui entre-temps s’est marié et a eu un fils (qui deviendra doge à son tour en 991 et suivit l'exemple de son père dans la probité et le service de la République), est alors choisi pour lui succéder. Très habile, il entreprend des travaux de restauration de la ville et de la cathédrale Saint-Marc puis administre la cité avec compétence et justesse. Et puis deux ans après son élection, peut-être pour expier les conditions de sa prise de pouvoir, il disparaît brusquement, après avoir décidé de tout abandonner. Il s’enfuit clandestinement par une nuit de septembre et se rend jusqu’à l’Abbaye Saint-Michel de Cuxa, située au pied du mont Canigou, dans les Pyrénées, où il demande à être admis. Il mène pendant quelque temps une vie très austère au sein de la communauté, puis il part s’isoler dans un modeste ermitage des environs où il termine sa vie en 997. De nombreux miracles ont été rapportés sur sa sépulture.

Peter Orseolo, OSB, Hermit (RM)

(also known as Peter Urseolus)

Born in Udine near Venice, Italy, 928; died at Cuxa in Roussillon, 987. In 976, the doge of Venice, Italy, Peter IV Candiano, was killed in a riot provoked by his attempt to set up a monarchy. A member of the powerful Orseoli family, also named Peter, was elected to replace him. (According to Saint Peter Damian, Peter Orseolo had led a conspiracy against Candiano, but the statement is not verified).

He had distinguished himself as a naval officer and soldier. becoming admiral of the Venetian fleet at the age of 20, in which post he conducted a successful campaign against the Dalmatian pirates who infested the Adriatic. Peter now exercised his authority as doge with high energy and tactful statesmanship to restore order to Venice. He also showed generosity in his treatment of the widow of Peter IV.

Then during the night of September 1, 978, Peter Orseolo, without the knowledge even of his wife of 32 years or their son, left Venice and made his way to the Benedictine monastery of Cuxa in the foothills of the Pyrenees on the border between France and Spain. He was always of religious disposition and it seems that he may have meditated for a long time about retiring from the world. There is evidence that he and his wife lived in continence since the birth of their only child, and a letter from Ratherius to Peter suggests that the saint had contemplated becoming a monk for at least ten years.

At Cuxa, Orseolo led a life of the strictest asceticism and self- effacement under the holy Abbot Guarinus. After a few years as sacristan in the monastery, he became a hermit under the direction of the abbot, doubtless with the encouragement of Saint Romuald when the latter was at Cuxa. He built himself a hermitage and lived alone until his death. So many miracles took place at his tomb that forty years after his death, Saint Peter Orseolo was officially recognized as a saint by the local bishop (Attwater, Benedictines, Encyclopedia). 

St. Peter Urseolus


Born at Rivo alto, Province of Udina, 928; at Cuxa, 10 January, 987 (997 is less probable). Sprung from the wealthy and noble Venetian family, the Orseoli, Peter led from his youth an earnest Christian life. In the service of the republic, he distinguished himself in naval battles against the pirates. In 946 he married a noble Venetian lady, Felicitas; a son of this marriage, who bore the same name as his father, also became Doge of Venice (991-1009). On 11 Aug., 976, the Doge Pietro Candiano fell a victim to a conspiracy, whose members, in their anxiety to obtain possession of him, set fire to his palace, thereby destroying not only this building, but also the churches of San Marco, San Teodoro, and Santa Maria di Zobenigo, as well as about three hundred houses. On the following day Pietro Orseolo was chosen doge in San Pietro di Castello, but it was only out of regard for his obligations towards his native land that he allowed himself to be prevailed upon to accept the office. The tradition recorded by Peter Damian (Vita s. Romualdi, V, in P.L., CXLIV, 960), that Peter had taken part in the conspiracy and that his later retirement from the world was due to his desire to expiate therefor, is without foundation. As one might expect from his personal piety, the new doge showed himself a zealous patron of churches and monasteries as well as an able ruler. He had the doge's palace and the church of San Marco rebuilt at his own expense, procuring in Constantinople for the latter the first golden altar-covering (Pala d'oro), and bequeathed one thousand pounds to persons injured by the fire and a similar sum to the poor. He renewed the treaty with Capodistria, and succeeded in averting from the republic the vengeance of Candiano's family, especially of his wife Waldrada, niece of Empress Adelaide, and his son Vitalis, Patriarch of Grado. About this time, through the influence of Abbot Guarinus of Cuxa (a Benedictine monastery at the foot of the Pyrenees, in the territory of Roussillon), he decided to enter a monastery, leaving Venice secretly with the abbot and two companions in the night of 1-2 September, 987. As a monk in the abbey of Cuxa, he presented to his spiritual brothers a model of humility, zeal for prayer, and charity. For a period he was under the spiritual guidance of St. Romuald. As early as the eleventh century the veneration of Peter Urseolus as a saint was approved by the Bishop of Elne. In 1731 Clement XII ratified this cult, and appointed 14 January as his feast.


MABILLON, Acta SS. ordinis s. Benedicti, V, 878 sqq.; Bibliotheca hagiographica latina, II, 986; TOLRA, St Pierre Orséolo (Paris, 1897); SCHMID, D. hl. Petrus Orseolo, Doge von Venedig u. Benedictiner, in Studien und Mitteilungen aus dem Bened. u. Cisterzienserorden (1901), 71 sq., 251 sq.; KRETSCHMAY, Gesch. von Venedig, I (Gotha, 1905), 115 sq., 438 sq.

Kirsch, Johann Peter. "St. Peter Urseolus." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 10 Jan. 2016 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11776a.htm>.