St Francis, Our Lady, Our Lord, St Bernardine
Today is the feast day of Saint Bernardine of Sienna (1380–1444), one of the greatest Franciscan priests of all time.
- Bernardine was the son of the governor of Sienna, but he was raised by his aunt.
- At the age of 20, Bernardine returned the favor and nursed his bedridden aunt until her death.
- After his beloved aunt died, Bernardine became a Franciscan at the age 22 in the year 1402.
- He was the most famous preacher of his age. Crowds swelled around him wherever he went. Since the church’s could not hold the crowds, he would preach outside.
- He is the Apostle of the Holy Name. At the end of ever sermon, he would hold a wooden plaque with the Holy Name of Jesus on it. The faithful would venerate and kiss the plaque in fulfillment of Philippians 2:10, “That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth.”
- He always traveled on foot and considered riding a horse to be contrary to Franciscan poverty. In his last year of life he was compelled to ride a donkey, because he could not walk (this same thing happened in the case with Saint Francis).
- Italy at this time had become infected with the vice of sodomy, and Saint Bernardine made this the frequent topic of his sermons. He said: “Whenever you hear sodomy mentioned, each and every one of you spit on the ground and clean your mouth out as well. If they don’t want to change their ways by any other means, maybe they will change when they’re made fools of. Spit hard! Maybe the water of your spit will extinguish their fire.”
- Our saint was accused of heresy, but vindicated and defended by Pope Martin V.
- The number of Franciscan Observants increased more than tenfold during his career. He also likely wrote the Statutes for the Observants in 1440.
- He died on a preaching tour on 20 May 1444 at Aquila. Miracles occurred immediately at his tomb. He was canonized only six years later by Nicolas V in 1450.
One last thing, San Bernardino in California is named after him.
Saint Bernardine of Sienna, pray for us!