Franciscan Saints


 

 

 

20th May

 

 

St. Bernadine of Siena

 

Confessor, First Order

 

Most of the saints experience personal conflict, even persecution. Bernardino, by contrast, seems more like a human dynamo who simply took on the needs of the world.

He was the greatest preacher of his time, travelling across Italy, calming strife-torn cities, attacking the paganism he found rampant, attracting crowds of 30,000, following St. Francis of Assisi’s admonition to preach about “vice and virtue, punishment and glory.” (Admonition 27 – see below)

 

Compared with St. Paul by the pope, Bernardino had a keen intuition of the needs of the time, along with solid holiness and boundless energy and joy. He achieved all this despite having a very weak and hoarse voice, miraculously improved later because of his devotion to Mary.

 

When he was 20, the plague was at its height in his hometown, Siena. Sometimes as many as 20 people died in one day at the hospital. Bernardino offered to run the hospital and, with the help of other young men, nursed patients there for four months. He escaped the plague but was so fatigued that a fever confined him for several months. He spent another year caring for a beloved aunt (her parents had died when he was a child) and at her death began to fast and pray to know God’s will for him.

 

At 22, he entered the Franciscan Order and was ordained two years later. For almost a dozen years he lived in solitude and prayer, but his gifts ultimately caused him to be sent to preach. He always travelled on foot, sometimes speaking for hours in one place, and then doing the same in another town.

 

Especially known for his devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus, Bernardino devised a symbol—IHS, the first three letters of the name of Jesus in Greek, in Gothic letters on a blazing sun. This was to displace the superstitious symbols of the day, as well as the insignia of factions (for example, Guelphs and Ghibellines- SEE BELOW).

The devotion spread, and the symbol began to appear in churches, homes and public buildings. Opposition arose from those who thought it a dangerous innovation. Three attempts were made to have the pope take action against him, but Bernardino’s holiness, orthodoxy and intelligence were evidence of his faithfulness.

 

General of a branch of the Franciscan Order, the Friars of the Strict Observance, he strongly emphasized scholarship and further study of theology and canon law. When he started there were 300 friars in the community; when he died there were 4,000. He returned to preaching the last two years of his life, dying while travelling.

 

Comment:

There is danger that we see only the whirlwind of activity in the Bernardino’s of faith—taking care of the sick, preaching, studying, administering, always driving—and forget the source of their energy. We should not say that Bernardino could have been a great contemplative if he had had the chance. He had the chance, every day, and he took it.

 

[Guelphs and Ghibellines (gwelfs, gib'ulēnz, -linz) [key], opposing political factions in Germany and in Italy during the later Middle Ages. The names were used to designate the papal (Guelph) party and the imperial (Ghibelline) party during the long struggle between popes and emperors,(A short history)]

27. Of the Virtues putting Vices to flight.

Where there is charity and wisdom there is neither fear nor ignorance. Where there is patience and humility there is neither anger nor worry. 1 Where there is poverty and joy there is neither cupidity nor avarice. Where there is quiet and meditation there is neither solicitude nor dissipation. Where there is the fear of the Lord to guard the house the enemy cannot find a way to enter. Where there is mercy and discretion there is neither superfluity nor hard-heartedness.

 

 

 

Prayer of the Church

 

O Lord Jesus, who didst grant to St. bernadin, Thy confessor,

a very splendid love for Thy most holy  Name, pour forth in us,

we beseech Thee, through his merits and intercessions, the spirit of

Thy love..

Who liveth  and reigneth

with Thee and the Holy Spirit,

One God, now and forever.  Amen

Source: Foley, Leonard, Fr, OFM., ed., revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.,2009,Saint of the Day, Lives, Lessons and Feasts, St. Anthony’s messenger Press, Cincinnati, OH

 

 

Prayer: Habig, Marion A., O.F.M., 1959, ed., The Franciscan book of Saints, Franciscan Herald press, Chicago, Illinois

 

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Last edited 13/09/2017 08:16 
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