Saint-Pons dates back to 775, founded by saint Siagrius, king of Austrasia Carloman’s son, and king Charlemagne’s nephew. Besides, Charlemagne sojourned here in 777 and 800! But in the 10th century, the Saracens devastated the abbey. Dukes of Savoie re-raised it… and Pons became very rich, very mighty!
Just imagine: in the 11th century, abbots of Saint-Pons became counts of Cimiez! And did you know that below a big elm tree planted in the abbey’s garden, they signed the treaty who gave Nice to the county of Savoie, in 1388?
But soon, the Turkish plundered the monastery in 1543. In 1798, it was transformed into a military hospital. And since 1835, it houses the current Pasteur hospital!
What about Pons? Well, he was born in a Roman family, noble but pagan. One day, he decided to change religion and became a Christian. Then he left his family to help the poor… But soon, Pons exiled himself next to Nice, in Cimiez, in order to escape from the Roman persecutions.
Unfortunately, Romans arrested him: he had to renounce to his faith! Or he would die… Pons preferred the death. We were in 261 BC, in May: prefect Claudius tortured and executed him.
They tied Pons in the middle of Cimiez amphitheatre, and they unleashed two big bears. But instead of devouring him, they ignored him! Instead, they rushed on soldiers and scoffed them! Then our two creatures came close to Pons and fell asleep at his feet.
Whoa! People could not believe that! This ″miracle″ irritated Claudius. So he lit a stake under Pons’ feet, but… the fire moved away from him! So, finally, they cut his head.
There, saint Valère, Pons’ pal, get back his body and buried him in a secret place… a place where they raised the monastery. What about Pon’s head? Well, it was threw in the river Paillon, and quietly drifted towards the ocean. The tradition says that angels took it and put it in Saint-Victor abbey in Marseille…