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St. William Berruyer

Name: St. William Berruyer
Date: 10 January

William Berruyer, of the illustrious family of the ancient Counts of Nevers, was educated by Peterthe Hermit, Archdeacon of Soissons, his maternal uncle. From his early childhood Saint Williamlearned to despise the folly and emptiness of the world, to abhor its pleasures, and to tremble at itsdangers. His only delight was in exercises of piety and his studies, with which he employed hiswhole time in an untiring application.

Saint William was made a canon, an ecclesiastic attached to a cathedral church, first at Soissonsand afterwards in Paris; but he soon resolved to abandon the world and retired into the solitude ofGrandmont, where he lived with great regularity in that austere Order. Finally he joined theCistercians, flourishing with sanctity at the time, and later was chosen to be Prior of the Abbey ofPontigny, then made Abbot of Challis.

On the death of Henri de Sully, Archbishop of Bourges, William was chosen to succeed him. Theannouncement of this new dignity which had fallen on him overwhelmed him with grief, and hewould not have accepted the office had not the Pope and his own Cistercian General, the Abbotof Citeaux, commanded him to do so. His first care in his new position was to conform his life tothe most perfect rules of sanctity. He redoubled all his austerities, saying it was incumbent on himnow to do penance for others as well as for himself. He always wore a hair shirt under hisreligious habit, and never added to his clothing in winter or diminished it in summer; he never ateany flesh meat, though he had it at his table for guests.

When he drew near his end, he was, at his request, laid on ashes in his hair cloth, and in thisposture expired on the 10th of January, 1209. While this holy bishop was laid out for veneration,an infirm young boy who wanted to venerate him, but had to be carried to the church by hismother, was completely cured of his infirmities, and ran about proclaiming the miracle. The stoneof his tomb in the Cathedral Church of Bourges cured mortal wounds and illnesses and deliveredpossessed persons; the deaf and dumb, the blind, the mentally ill became sound. So many miraclesoccurred there that the monks could not record them all, and he was canonized nine years after hisdeath, in 1218, by Pope Honorius III.

Sources: Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints

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