Saint Bernard Dog Origin and History
The starting source of the Saint Bernard canine is connected to the pass and the monastery bearing identical names, The Great Saint Bernard Pass. This pass supplies passageway between Switzerland and Italy , creating a very intense history.
During 57 B.C., the time frame of the Gallic wars, Caesar had campaigns against the alpine tribes in attempts to control safe passage through the Alps region. Although it would not be until seven to six B.C. that the Roman armies, then under Augusts, would take control of and actually secure the region. The ” Tropaeum Alpinum ” in La Turbie is a standing monument glorifying these legions and even displays the Apline tribes that were defeated during the final conquest.
Another name for the Saint Bernard passage was Summus Poeninus . This area was declared an imperial road which was expanded by Emperor Claudius in the year 43 and the Roman guards from Aosta and Mtigny provided safe passage to travelers. The passageway was so notorious that at the 2464 m a temple was erected to honor Jupiter ( Jovis ) and an additional mansio was provided to house travelers.
The pass would become vital to crossing the Alps with the shortest passage to Britannia. It would become known as Mons Jovis in honor of Jupiter.
Following t he Teutonic invasions (approximately during 500) the passage decreased in popularity and was used less frequently in subsequent centuries and roads to the area became virtually barren of travel. During the medieval period popularity returned but there were problems with brigands and thieves for those traveling in the area.
Medieval times, but was inundated by brigands and thieves who preyed on people traveling in the area.
Stories tell that around 950 a Monastery was formed by the Holy Saint Bernard of Montjou (a deacon in Aosta that was canonized in 1123). Although, history points to a conference that was held between Bernard and the infamous Henry IV during 1086 in Pavia during which time Bernard discussed Henry IV not engaging war with Poper Gregor VII. Bernard would later die on June 12, 1086 and be buried three days later.
It stands to reason that Bernard was not the one to form the Monastery approximately 130 years prior to his death. Popular belief is that the Monastery was created roughly in the year 1050. The alleged evil spirits that Bernard killed and attacked were presumed to be brigands and thieves that were a nuisance at that time in the pass.
After its formation, the Monastery would need funding to carry out its missions and responsibilities. There was a compilation of the donations provide to the Monastery in 1125. It would be 1177 that Papal Bull from Pope Alexander III that would put the Monastery under a papal shelter. During this time, the Monastery’s assets consisted of approximately eighty estates from Sicily , France , Switzerland and England .
The pass again returned to popularity and was essential for commercial and pilgrim travelers to Rome . The following 400 years would create a growth within the Monastary for it to reach its present day size. It would not be until the 16 th century that the pass region and the actual Monastery would be given the name Saint Bernard.
The abundant history of the Saint Bernard Dog is based on access to the Monastery. The passage area was desolate for centuries, which resulted in virtually no animal shipments into the surrounding regions and this included dogs. The intermission of the dog shipments to this region is vital in comprehending the origin of the Saint Bernard.