Saint of the Day – 27 August – Blessed Amadeus of Lausanne O Cist (1110—1159) Bishop of Lausanne, Cistercian Monk and Abbot of Hautecombe Abbey, where he governed with great piety and administrative skills, he had an extremely deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, writer – born on 21 Janury 1110 in the castle of Chatte, Dauphine, France and died on 27 August 1159 of natural causes, aged 49.
Amadeus was the son of Count Amadeus of Clermont the Elder of Clermont in Savoy. After his mother’s early death, he was sent to the Cistercian Abbey of Bonnevaux at the early age of 10 to be educated there. His father entered the same Monastery as a Monk. In order to take advantage of even better educational opportunities, father and son moved to Cluny Abbey in 1121. The son soon moved on to the Court of Emperor Henry V in order to learn life as a Knight and prepare for an aristocratic career. But dissatisfied with this way of life, he chose to enter a Cistercian Monastery in 1125, this time choosing the famous Clairvaux Abbey, then led by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux.
In 1139 he was selected by St Bernard to serve as the Abbot of Hautecombe Abbey in Savoy where 200 monks came under his responsibility. One of his most momentous decisions was to move the community from it’s location to a new site on the shores of the Lac du Bourget, see blow. It was said that Amadeus’ administrative skills, high ideals, piety and education, led Hautecombe to new heights as a religious community and also ensured it’s economic security. It seems that his father went with him as a Monk.
After his father’s death in 1140 he founded the Cistercian Monastery, Laval-Bénite in Saint-Pierre-de-Bressieux.
Pope Lucius II elevated Amadeus to the Bishopric of Lausanne in 1144. The Abbot was reluctant to accept but was Consecrated on 21 January 1145. His service as a Bishop led to a period of spiritual and administrative stability for the region, although he was initially, often met with opposition, once having to flee the City because of violent residents. He was able to put the City under the protection of Berthold IV, Duke of Zähringen. Amadeus was particularly devoted to improving the education of the clergy and leading them to deeper religious observance.
He was often in contact with the Ecclesiastical and secular authorities of his day. Letters and charters attest to his contacts with King Conrad III, with Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa and the Cistercian Pope Eugene III, whom Amadeus knew from his days in Clairvaux. For a time, he served as the legal Guardian for Blessed Humbert III, Count of Savoy, when Humbert’s father Amadeus III died in the Second Crusade.
As Bishop, Amadeus often went on retreat at Haut-Crêt Abbey, located 15 km east of Lausanne. His Marian devotions are famous but he also venerated St Agnes a great deal because her Memorial day (21 January) was the day Amadeus was born, began school, entered the novitiate, took his monastic vows, was made Abbot and Consecrated a Bishop.
According to tradition, Amadeus consecrated his Cathedral in Lausanne to Mary after his sister had miraculously given him a glove of the Virgin, which was kept for a long time in the Cathedral.
Amadeus often visited his parishes and consecrated – probably in 1148 – the then wooden church in the mountain village of Grindelwald to Mary, see below. His Homilies attest to his extremely strong devotion to Mary and are a source of knowledge about the Marian piety of the time. Pope Pius XII quoted St Amadeus in 1950, in the proclamation of the Dogma of the Assumption of Mary into heaven, Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus.
Towards the end of his tenure Amadeus defended his Diocese and the City of Lausanne against the Count of Geneva. He was forced to flee temporarily to Moudon, which had belonged to the Bishop of Lausanne since 1101 but, there too, he was harassed by the Count’s soldiers.
After he was able to return to Lausanne, he was plagued by various illnesses and died in Lausanne on 27 August 1159. He was interred in the Cathedral of Lausanne before the Altar of the Holy Cross. Veneration was officially approved in 1710 by Pope Pope Clement XI and confirmed in 1903 by St Pius X. A shrine with his relics now resides in the Bishop’s house.
Blessed Amadeus’ extant Marian sermons are his most famous writings. As a result, he is often quoted as a classic proponent of Marian piety in the 12th century. The seventh homily is particularly well-known, as it was the one from which Pope Pius XII quoted.