On 14 September 2017, the Federal Mint Swissmint has launched a gold coin dedicated to the famous Saint Bernard dog Barry.
In the 11th century, Canons Regular of Saint Augustine founded a hospice as a refuge for travellers and pilgrims on the 2,469 metre-high Great Saint Bernard Pass. Large mountain dogs have been kept at the hospice since the mid-17th century to guard and protect those staying there. The first visual evidence of the presence of mountain dogs dates back to 1695, and the first written document is a hospice memo from the year 1707. The dogs were rapidly adopted as companion dogs and above all as rescue dogs for travellers who lost their way in the snow and mist. The dogs from the Great Saint Bernard Pass saved the lives of a great number of people. The reputation of the Saint Bernards grew throughout Europe in the 19th century thanks to chronicles published in many languages and to reports passed on by word of mouth by the soldiers who had crossed the pass with Napoleon Bonaparte in 1800.
The legendary Saint Bernard dog Barry lived at the hospice from 1800 to 1812. The famous dog apparently saved the lives of more than 40 people. Numerous legends linked to his story have contributed greatly to the good reputation of the Saint Bernard dogs. The Natural History Museum in Bern is devoting a special exhibition to the stuffed, original Barry and his story: www.barry.museum. The Barry Foundation in Martigny (www.fondation-barry.ch) attends to the continued existence of the original Saint Bernard dogs.
In memory of this brave dog, Swissmint issues a 50-franc gold coin designed by the graphic artist and illustrator Maya Delaquis from Gwatt.
Last update: 24.08.2017