May 20

St. Bernardine of Siena

Saint Bernardine of Siena

If a saint doesn’t shy away from controversy and unpopular topics, it isBernardino. Priest and monk, also known as the Apostle of Italy. Hisweakness was throwing himself completely into whatever he does.

Early Tragedy

Young Bernardino, also called Bernadine was born into the noble house ofAlbizzeschi, Massa Marittima, Siena Italy on 8 September 1380. Hisfather, Albertollo degli was the governor of Albizzeschi and his motherwas Raniera degeli Avveduti.

At six years, Bernardine became an orphan. A devout aunt took him in andraised him as if he was hers.

He had his education at the University of Siena, where he took civil andcanon law courses. He also learned grammar, rhetoric, and theology.

In 1397, he joined the Confraternity of Our Lady attached to Santa MariaDella scala church.

Weathering the Plague

In 1400, a plague broke out in the city of Siena, and people were dyingin their numbers. A young man, 20 years old, stood outside the doors ofLa Scala hospital not because he was sick but because he wanted to help.That was Bernardine.

Bernardine recruited his friends to help him in caring for the plaguevictims. Picture the coronavirus scourge. They comfort the victims,cleaned and organized at the hospital day and night for four months.

Bernardine took it on himself to pay the running cost of the hospital.Nearly the end of the plague, he falls sick from exhaustion. When hefinally recovered, it was to take care of his invalid aunt. And for 14months, he was at her side, caring and tendering to her till she died.

Here to Serve You, Lord

In 1403, he joined the order of the friar minors ( Fransicians) atColombia, near Siena. In 1404 he became a priest. The Franciscans areknown to be preachers, but Bernardine has a short and coarse voice, forthat he couldn’t preach initially. Instead, he devoted his life toprayer and building his spirituality.

Bernardine moved to Milan, and surprisingly he was preaching and hisvoice very loud. For over 30 years, he moved around Italy on footpreaching to the public from the heart, never a prepared speech.

He preached against witchcraft, sorcery, homosexuality, gambling,infanticide, and usury(lending money at exorbitant rates). These werediscussions many shied away from. His voice was powerful, and so was hismessage. He drew many crowds.

Bernadine talked about punishment for sins and also reward for virtues.In the end, reminding the people of the mercy of Jesus and the love ofMary. His exceptional devotion was to the Holy Name of Jesus.

Put on Trial

As his influence grew throughout Italy, he attracted jealousy as well.His denouncers accused him of Heresy and Idolatry ( promoting the HolyName of Jesus). He was summoned by Pope Martin V and was forbidden frompreaching pending the outcome of his trial.

His trial took place before the Pope. It was discovered that theaccusations against him were malicious. His books were given back tohim. The Pope sent him to preach in Rome.

In 1437, became the vicar general of the Friars. There was tremendousgrowth in the number of people who joined the Franciscans in hislifetime from 130 to 4000. He set up schools of theology and wasinstrumental to many ambassadors attending the council of Florence.

But his position denied him the freedom to move about preaching as hewants. In 1443, he persuaded the Pope to accept his resignation. He wentback to being an itinerant preacher.

Last Days

Just like everything Bernardine, he threw the whole of himself intopreaching once again. Even in the face of health challenges, he preachedfor 50 consecutive days in his hometown of Massa Maritima.

He sent out for Naples preaching as he goes, and in 1441, he died atAquila. Bernardine was a voice that couldn’t be ignored, not in religionor socio-political concerns until his very end.

Miracles followed the tomb where he was buried at Basilica of SanBernardino, Aquila.

Pope Nicholas canonized him as a saint in 1450.

5 Interesting Facts About St. Bernardine of Siena

  1. Know the meaning of IHS seen in Churches, altars, crosses?
    Bernardine was the first to carve it out, raising it up at the end
    of his preachings. It stands for the first three letters of the
    name of Jesus in Greek.
  2. Bernadine rejected to be a Bishop not once but three times. He just
    wanted to be a preacher, and that he was.
    3.Devoted to the Holy Name of Jesus? Bernardine led the way to rever
    the Most Holy Name of Jesus.
    4.He was the first Theologian after Pierre de Jean Olivi to write a
    book on Scholastic Economics. His book contracts &power dwelt on
    the justification of private property, trade ethics, value and
    price, and usury.
  3. Bernadine never spent more than a few weeks in any place he found
    himself preaching. His journey was all made on foot.

Prayer to St. Bernadine of Siena

God, you gave St. Bernardine, your priest,An exceeding love for the name of Jesus.Through his merits and prayers, grant that we mayEver be inflamed with love for youAmen.