Franciscan Saints


 

 

 

2nd July

 

 

The Servant of God Bernard of Quintavalle

 

Confessor, First Order

Feast day December 10th

Bernard of Quintavalle was the first disciple of St. Francis not only in the order of time but, as St. Bonaventure states, also in the order of sanctity. He was a wealthy man of Assisi, universally esteemed because of his wisdom, experience, and great virtues. When important civic matters had to be decided upon, his advice was usually followed. Desire for greater perfection urged him to remain unmarried.

When Bernard saw young Francis practice the poverty and humility of Christ in such an admirable manner, he felt impelled to follow his way of life. He wished, however, to determine whether it was just sentimentality or sincere love of God that moved Francis, and so he invited him to his home. At their evening repast Bernard conversed with Francis and begged him to remain for the night. A comfortable bed had been prepared for Francis. When everything grew quiet in the house, Bernard observed how Francis arose and, casting himself upon his knees, continued in prayer throughout the night. Sometimes he heard him sigh: “My God and My All!”

At daybreak Bernard told his saintly guest that he had decided to forsake all things of earth and to become his disciple. It was a source of great joy for Francis to receive so distinguished a man as his first companion in the perfect service of God. But he said to Bernard; “Concerning this matter we must determine what is the will of God. Let us go to church, that His will may be made known to us.”

Having assisted at holy Mass and spent some time in devout prayer, they asked the priest to open the book of the Gospels for them three different times. At the first opening they read the words: “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor” (Mt. 19, 21). The second opening revealed the following: “Take nothing for the way” (Mk. 6, 8). The third: “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me" (Mt. 16, 24). Then St. Francis said: “This will be the rule of life which we and all those who will join us shall follow.”

Bernard went forth and sold all his goods and divided the proceeds among the poor. Then he returned to Francis. He was never happier than when he had a cross to carry or some act of self-abnegation to practice.  And many such opportunities presented themselves. When several other associates had gathered around Francis, he sent Bernard and a companion to Florence and then to Bologna. Because of their poor garments and the strange life they were observing, they were subjected to much ridicule and persecution in both these cities. This gave Bernard cause for rejoicing. He accepted all with perfect calmness and interior joy for love of Christ. But when Bologna gradually recognized his great virtue, and honors began to be heaped on him from all sides, Bernard asked Francis to take him away, since there was now no more opportunity for gaining merit there.

The holy Founder held Bernard in great esteem, not only because he was an older man, but also because of his great virtue, which made his age still more venerable. St. Francis was accustomed to call him the first—born of the order, and wished all the brethren to respect and honor him as they honored the Founder himself.

When St. Francis went to France and Spain in 1213-1214 to preach to the Mohamedans in Africa, he took Brother Bernard with him. On the way, however, they encountered a poor sick man, and Francis directed Bernard to remain and attend to the man’s wants. Bernard did so willingly and cheerfully until Francis called for him again on the return journey. Before his passing, the holy Founder gave Brother Bernard a special blessing and again charged all the brethren, superiors as well as subjects, to respect him. After the death of St. Francis, Bernard associated little with others. He was indeed sociable, and rated everybody higher than himself, but the spirit of prayer drew him to his beloved solitude, where he kept united with God in holy contemplation and conversed with the holy angels.

He died on July 10, between 1241 and 1246, and was buried in the church of St. Francis next to his spiritual father. Sometime later, two of the brethren saw him in the convent of the Portiuncula in heavenly brightness, his eyes beaming like two suns. When the brothers questioned him about that, the glorified Bernard replied that the distinction had been granted to him because he had interpreted everything he saw in the best possible light and had looked upon everybody as better than himself. (Cf. Brown, The Little Flowers of St. Francis, pp. 41-57, 325-326.)

 

 

 

 

 

Prayer of the Church

(Third secret under "Various Prayers")

 

Grant unto Thy servant, O Lord, the pardon of their sins,

comfort in life, and continual guidance: that serving thee, they may

deserve duly to attain to Thy mercy

Through the same Christ Our Lord Who liveth  and reigneth
with
Thee and the Holy Spirit,  One God, now and forever.  Amen

 

 

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 10:15 
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