Saint of the Day – 21 March – Saint John of Valence (Died 1146) Bishop, Founder of the Abbey of Bonnevaux, Monk, Abbot, Apostle of the poor, Social Reformer. Born at Lyons, France and died on 21 March 1146 of natural causes. Additional Memorial – 26 April on some calendars.
The Roman Martyrology reads: “In Valence in the territory of Vienne in France, St John, Bishop, who, at first Abbot of Bonnevaux, suffered many adversities for the defence of justice and with charity took care of the peasants, the poor and the merchants ruined by debts.”
Nothing is known of his early life until he became a Priest and a Canon of the Lyons Cathedral.
After a pilgrimage to Compostela, Spain John had a dream in which Christ complained: “He ought to be Mine, not as a pilgrim but as a dweller in My house.” John immediately entered Clairvaux Abbey to become a Monk under Saint Bernard. In 1117, he founded the Cistercian Abbey at Bonnevaux, became its Abbot and from which he established four daughter-houses.
In 1141 John was elected Bishop of Valence. John felt so unworthy of the position that he had to be physically carried to the Altar to be Consecrated. As Bishop, John fought zealously for his flock not just in matters spiritual but for farmers, merchants and the impoverished who were all ruined by debt during a regional financial crisis.
During his five years as the Bishop, John maintained the rigoroys life of a Monk, keeping fasts and penances. He actively alleviated the sufferings of widows, orphans and the poor and in other ways, promoted social justice.
John died on 21 March 1146 . Pope Pius X confirmed his cultus in on 3 December 1903.