Friday, November 22, 2019

Saints for Today: Bernardine of Siena, Friar (1380-1444)

Must Read

Remembering Sister Patricia Bietsch

As an educator, Sr. Pat was passionate about ensuring every student being given the opportunity to learn. She pioneered religion classes for the handicapped students at St. Mary Mission in New Mexico.

Friday New Roundup: Celebrating 20 Years of Service in Tuba City; Gallup Principal Resigns

Plus: St. Kateri and the Rosary, New Saints Canonized, and more!

The Path to Zuni, Part II

by Elizabeth Kelley A PARISH IS STARTED The attempt to re-establish a Catholic mission at Zuni began in earnest in 1920,...
Dr. Jean Lee
Jean M. Lee, M.A., D.Min., is a licensed behavioral health and substance abuse counselor, founding a nonprofit, state-licensed behavior health counseling agency and Christian gift/book store. Volunteer work includes: Jail ministry, Legion of Mary membership, door-to-door evangelization, and writing a weekly newspaper column titled “Faith and Inspiration: Encyclopedia of Saints for Today.” A Catholic revert after 32 years away from the Church, she is devout in the Catholic faith, loves the saints, and lives a deeper spiritual/religious and more joyful life since returning to the Church.

Feast Day: May 20

Bernardine was perhaps the most famous preacher in Italy in the first half of the 15th century. At age twenty-three, Bernardine had completed a classical education and capped it with a degree in canon law. In 1403 he joined the Friars of the Strict Observance (Observants), a new branch of the Franciscan Religious Order.

For more than a dozen years he lived quietly and unremarkable in Fiesole, Italy. But in 1417, a Franciscan novice prophesied three times to Bernardine. “Brother Bernardine,” he exclaimed, “stop hiding your gifts. Go to Lombardy where all await you!” The saint went obediently to Milan, not knowing what to do. But he soon discovered that his vocation was preaching when his eloquence began to draw huge congregations. Thousands came to hear this entertaining friar who used his personable humor and wisdom to penetrate their souls with Christian truth. Bernardine preached at great length, sometimes for as much as four hours. For nearly a quarter of a century he crisscrossed Italy on foot, calling people to repentance.

The letters “IHS” are the abbreviation of the Greek name for Jesus, and they appeared occasionally on Byzantine icons beginning in the fourth or fifth centuries. The monogram was virtually unknown in Western Europe until the fifteenth century, when it became an important part of the impassioned sermons of Bernardine, the wandering Franciscan friar, a fierce advocate of Christianity and spokesman for peace.

Bernardine tailored his preaching to appeal to a congregation’s faith, reason, and emotions; between his arguments he told stories that made listeners laugh or weep. He popularized the Holy Name of Jesus. At each sermon’s climax, when Bernardine held his audience’s attention, he would suddenly raise a wooden tablet on which the letters IHS were painted in gold. This dramatic gesture never failed to draw an outpouring of religious fervor. And everyone wanted a copy of the sign. A maker of playing cards whose business Bernardine had ruined by denouncing gambling made more money than ever by manufacturing a placard with the IHS image.

In 1437, the Observants elected Bernardine as their general. In six years he reformed the order, sending friars from their enclosures to service in the world. Overcoming the traditional Franciscan fear of learning, he required his men to study theology and canon law. During his period of leadership, he attracted so many new recruits that membership increased tenfold. He resigned in 1443 to return to preaching. But he died in 1444 shortly after delivering at his hometown a series of fifty sermons in as many days.

“God has two arms—an arm of love and an arm of fear. With both arms he embraces the sinner who desires to return to him. If you want to be loved by him, love him and he will prosper you. And if you fear him, he will protect you from every danger.” —St. Bernardine of Siena

BIBLIOGRAPHY:
Craughwell, Thomas J. “This Saint Will Change Your Life.” Philadelphia: Quirk Books, 2007.
Ghezzi, Bert. “Voices of the Saints.” Chicago: Loyola Press, 2000.
Heritage, Andrew, ed. “The Book of Saints: A Day-By Illustrated Encyclopedia.” San Francisco: Weldonowen, 2012.

Comments

comments

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest News

Remembering Sister Patricia Bietsch

As an educator, Sr. Pat was passionate about ensuring every student being given the opportunity to learn. She pioneered religion classes for the handicapped students at St. Mary Mission in New Mexico.

Advertisement

Other recent stories:

Forging Friendships with America’s Forgotten and Overlooked Communities

For the elderly, single parents, or rural isolated, surviving and creating human connections can be an everyday struggle. So for the last 20 years, the volunteers of the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Tuba City AZ have been working to build a network of support throughout their community.

Everyday Heroes: Father, daughter make cross-country pilgrimage for life 

"For John Moore, each step is a prayer. And when you're walking the 2,800 miles from San Francisco to Washington, that's a lot of prayer."
audio

An Insider Breakdown of the Fall 2019 U.S. Bishops’ Meeting

Bishop Wall takes a look at all the important things happening at the annual November meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore.

Christening a New Fire Truck? There’s a Catholic Blessing for That

When the firefighters at Blanco, NM's Station 1 needed a Catholic blessing for their new truck, they turned to local Deacon Patric Valdez.

Advertisement

More Articles Like This

Comments

comments