mardi 9 mai 2017

Saint BEATUS de LUNGERN (de BEATENBERG, de THUN), ermite et apôtre


Beatus of Beatenberg (RM)
(also known as Beatus of Thun)

Date unknown, possibly 112. Saint Beatus was an early hermit, who found his solitude at a place now called Beatenberg, above Lake Thun, Switzerland. Local legend claims that he was the son of a Scottish king. He may be (but more likely is not) the same Beatus who received a charter in 810 from Blessed Charlemagne to confirm that Honau Abbey, which he ruled as abbot, would always be administered by Irish monks (Benedictines, Coulson, D'Arcy, Fitzpatrick, Green, Montague, Tommasini). In art, Saint Beatus is depicted as an old man reading in a mountain cave. He is venerated at Beatenberg and Thun (Roeder).


Saint Beatus of Lungern

Also known as
  • Apostle of Switzerland
  • Beatus of Beatenberg
  • Beatus of Thun
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Convert, baptized in England by Saint Barnabas the Apostle. Priest, ordained in Rome, Italy by Saint Peter the Apostle. Missionary to Switzerland. Lived in a cave above the Lake of Thun, which tradition says is where he fought a dragon (often used as a metaphor for chasing the devil out of a region by bringing in Christianty); it became known as Mount Beatenburg in his honor, and became a place of pilgrimage in later years. Confessor of the faith.

  • c.112 on Mount Beatenburg, Lake of Thun, Switzerland of natural causes
  • old man in a cave, usually reading
  • monk fighting or chasing a dragon
  • monk with a book and a weapon


Commemorated May 9

    According to oral tradition--often more reliable than the skeptic deliberations of modern scholarship, the first missionary to the pagan Helvetii was a first-century hermit of Gaelic origin, St. Beatus (Latin for "blessed''). He is said to have been baptized in England by St. Barnabas. Upon his conversion, St. Beatus gave up his earthly possessions and traveled to Rome where he was ordained by the Apostle Peter and sent with a companion, Achates, to evangelize the area we know today as Switzerland. The two missionaries settled in Argovia, just east of the Jura Mountains, where they persuaded many Helvetians to abandon their pagan cults of Mars and Hercules and to erect temples to the true God.

     For the sake of greater solitude, St. Beatus journeyed south to Interlaken, He settled into a cave above the lake and there he spent the rest of his life in prayer and fasting. St. Beatus died in old age c.112. Veneration of the Saint was popular in the Middle Ages and survived the hostility of the Reformation period when pilgrims were driven back from his cave at spear-point by Zwingli's followers. Located in a mountain named after the Saint, Beattenberg, his cave still exists and remains a place of pilgrimage.

     Although the earliest recorded accounts of St. Beatus' life, dating no earlier than the 10th and mid-11th centuries, have not been historically authenticated, there is no reason to dismiss them as legendary, as have ( some modern scholars. It should be remembered that Helvetia was conquered in 58 BC by the Romans whose civilizing influence was advantageous to early Christian missionary work, in spite of pagan Rome's hostility. Nevertheless, in the absence of further documentation, one would hesitate to agree with a later tradition that calls St. Beatus the Apostle of Switzerland. This honor has been more justly conferred upon St. Gall, one of that great company of Irish monks whose major contribution towards the conversion of Gaul, Germany, the Low Countries and Switzerland remains to be fully appreciated. But even before St. Galls arrival in the early 7th century, Christianity had been making inroads into Switzerland, peopling its rugged landscape with monastics and watering its soil with the blood of martyrs.


St. Beatus Hermit of Thun, Apostle of Switzerland (ca. †112): While legend claims that he was the son of a Scottish king, other legends place his birth in Ireland. Beatus was a convert, baptized in England by St. Barnabas. He was allegedly ordained a priest in Rome by St. Peter the Apostle, whereupon he was sent with a companion named Achates to evangelize the tribe of the Helvetii. The two set up a camp in Argovia near the Jura Mountains, where they converted many of the locals. Beatus then ventured south to the mountains above Lake Thun, taking up a hermitage in what is now known as St. Beatus Caves, near the village of Beatenberg, probably in the ninth century. Tradition states that this cave is where he fought a dragon. St. Beatus’ grave is located between the monastery and the cave entrance.


San Beato Eremita e apostolo della Svizzera


† Thun (Svizzera), 112

Martirologio Romano: A Vendôme lungo la Loira in Francia, san Beato, sacerdote, che condusse vita eremitica.

C’è un po’ di confusione nell’identificazione di questo santo di nome Beato, perché la leggenda della sua vita s’interseca con un omonimo santo eremita di Vendôme, pure lui celebrato il 9 maggio. 

Ad ogni modo teniamo presente la sua ‘Vita’, scritta e pubblicata per primo dall’umanista Agricola nel 1511, così riassunta: San Beato è posizionato nel tempo nell’età apostolica; secondo questa ‘Vita’, Beato era di origine inglese, convertito dall’apostolo s. Barnaba, al battesimo cambiò il suo nome di Svetonio in quello di Beato. 

Poi partì per Roma per istruirsi nella nuova religione; qui l’apostolo Pietro gli conferì in seguito tutti gli Ordini sacri, inviandolo poi ad evangelizzare la Svizzera, mentre altri partivano per le altre regioni d’Europa e del vasto impero romano. 

Operò fattivamente nell’allora regione Helvetia, operando un gran numero di conversioni con la sua predicazione ed i tanti miracoli fatti. Dopo un certo periodo si sentì attratto dalla vita solitaria e si ritirò in una grotta presso il lago di Thun, nella Svizzera centrale, cantone di Berna; ma questa grotta era occupata da un terribile dragone, allora Beato con un segno di croce, lo scacciò dalla caverna, facendolo precipitare nel lago. 

Visse in questa grotta con il suo discepolo Achates, occupati nella preghiera e nella penitenza, morì nel 112, vecchio di 90 anni; i due eremiti furono sepolti nella grotta uno a fianco all’altro. 

Bisogna dire che il cristianesimo comparve in Svizzera nel III-IV secolo e non nel I come narra la leggenda. Comunque non c’è dubbio che almeno dal secolo XII, esisteva in Svizzera un culto per un s. Beato, sulla cui identificazione gli studiosi non sono concordi; chi lo considera un personaggio storico, chi lo identifica con s. Beato di Vendôme eremita francese, chi lo considera un missionario anglosassone o irlandese del VI secolo. 

Il “Martyrologium Romanum” riporta s. Beato con la specifica di eremita al 9 maggio, senza dire altro.


Autore: Antonio Borrelli