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Lives of the Saints:

How They Changed the World

Saint Benezet (d. 1184)

Saint Benezet (d. 1184)

Patron saint of bachelors and bridge-builders

Feast day: April 14




Saint Benezet was a shepherd by trade but was called by God to do something very different with his life. During an eclipse, he heard a voice from above requesting that he build a bridge over the Rhone River in Avignon, France. The voice told him that angels would tend to his flocks while he was away. At first, officials from both the Church and the community refused to assist Benezet with the bridge. When he lifted a large stone into place and proclaimed it was the start of the foundation, 18 miracles occurred. These miracles stopped the opposition from the officials, and construction began. Benezet oversaw construction for seven years. When he was called to his heavenly home, the bridge was almost, but not completely, finished. In this image, Saint Benezet is holding a large cement block as a symbol of his mission to build this bridge. (Image in public domain) The bridge of Saint Benezet is now partially destroyed. This bridge was the inspiration for the song Sur le pont d'Avignon (On the Bridge of Avignon) and is a landmark of the city. In 1995, the surviving arches of the bridge, together with the Palais des Papes and Cath├ędrale Notre-Dame des Doms, were classified as a World Heritage Site.