Peter The Venerable

c.1092-1156. French abbot and scholar. Born at Auvergne of noble family, he was educated at the monastery of Sauxillanges of the congregation of Cluny, making his profession under its abbot, Hugh of Cluny,* in 1109. He was successively claustral prior at Vézelay, conventual prior at Domène, and finally chief abbot (1122) over 2,000 dependent houses across Europe. Peter effected financial and educational reforms, but could not halt general decline. His interest in studies at Cluny brought opposition from his close friend, Bernard of Clairvaux,* who wanted only prayer and manual work enforced. Peter supported Innocent II against the antipope Anacletus II (a Cluniac monk) and won reconciliation for Peter Abelard* after the Council of Sens (1140). But his attempts to divert the crusading spirit from deed to word failed. Peter traveled to Spain and England twice each, and often to Rome, but frequently withdrew to the hermitage for meditation and study. His sermons and poems show a careful knowledge of Scripture. He wrote treatises against Peter de Bruys,* the Jews, and the Saracens, and he was the first to have the Koran translated into Latin. Both Bernard of Cluny,* who often eclipsed him, and Frederick Barbarossa called him “venerable.”