samedi 19 mai 2012

Saint BERNARDIN de SIENNE (20 MAI), prêtre franciscain et confesseur



Saint Bernardin de Sienne, prêtre

Le franciscain Bernardin de Sienne (1380-1444) prit en quelque sorte la relève du dominicain Vincent Ferrier comme prédicateur populaire pour inviter les chrétiens à regarder au-delà d'un monde déchiré. De Milan à Rome, il parcourait les villes, prêchant l'amour infini de Dieu et présentant le Nom de Jésus comme la sauvegarde contre tous les maux.

SOURCE : http://www.paroisse-saint-aygulf.fr/index.php/prieres-et-liturgie/saints-par-mois/icalrepeat.detail/2015/05/20/15/-/saint-bernardin-de-sienne-pretre


Antonio Raggi. Saint Bernardin de Sienne, Cathédrale de Sienne.

SAINT BERNARDIN de SIENNE

de l'Ordre de Saint-François

(1380-1444)

Le principal caractère de la vie de ce grand Saint, c'est son amour extraordinaire pour la très Sainte Vierge. Né le 8 septembre 1380, jour de la Nativité de Marie, Bernardin fut privé, tout jeune, de ses nobles et pieux parents; mais il trouva dans une de ses tantes une véritable mère. Voyant un jour cette femme refuser de donner à un pauvre, il lui dit: "Pour l'amour de Dieu, donnez à ce pauvre; autrement je ne prendrai rien aujourd'hui."

Sa pureté était si grande, que le moindre mot inconvenant l'affligeait profondément: "Silence, disaient les étudiants quand ils le voyaient apparaître au milieu de leurs conversations trop libres, silence, voici Bernardin!"

A dix-sept ans, il entra dans une confrérie de garde-malades, et soigna pendant quatre ans, dans un hôpital, avec un dévouement et une douceur rares, toutes les infirmités humaines. Se traitant lui-même avec la dernière dureté, il ne songeait qu'aux besoins des autres; il parut surtout héroïque dans une peste affreuse, où il s'imposa mille fatigues et brava mille fois la mort.

L'inspiration du Ciel le conduisit alors chez les Franciscains, qui le lancèrent bientôt dans la prédication. Grâce à la bonté de sa Mère céleste, sa voix, faible et presque éteinte, devint inopinément claire et sonore; Bernardin fut un apôtre aussi brillant par son éloquence que par sa science, et opéra en Italie de merveilleux fruits de salut.

Faisant un jour l'éloge de la Sainte Vierge, il Lui appliqua cette parole de l'Apocalypse: "Un grand signe est apparu au Ciel." Au même instant, une étoile brillante parut au-dessus de sa tête. Une autre fois, parlant en italien, il fut parfaitement compris par des auditeurs grecs qui ne connaissaient que leur langue maternelle.

Un jour, un pauvre lépreux lui demanda l'aumône; Bernardin, qui ne portait jamais d'argent, lui donna ses souliers; mais à peine le malheureux les eut-il chaussés, qu'il se senti soulagé et vit disparaître toute trace de lèpre.

Bernardin, allant prêcher, devait traverser une rivière et ne pouvait obtenir le passage de la part d'un batelier cupide auquel il n'avait rien à donner. Confiant en Dieu il étendit son manteau sur les eaux, et, montant sur ce frêle esquif, passa la rivière.

C'est à Bernardin de Sienne que remonte la dévotion au saint Nom de Jésus: il ne pouvait prononcer ce nom sans éprouver des transports extraordinaires. Il a été aussi un des apôtres les plus zélés du culte de saint Joseph.

Abbé L. Jaud, Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l'année, Tours, Mame, 1950.

SOURCE : http://magnificat.ca/cal/fr/saints/saint_bernardin_de_sienne.html



St Bernardin de Sienne, confesseur


Déposition à l’Aquila le 20 mai 1444. Canonisé en 1450 par Nicolas V. Fête inscrite au calendrier par Alexandre VII en 1657, sous le rite semi-double.

Leçons des Matines avant 1960

Bernardin Albizesca, issu d’une noble famille de Sienne, donna dès son enfance des marques éclatantes de sainteté. Il reçut de ses pieux parents une éducation très soignée ; négligeant les amusements puérils, on le vit, dès ses premières études de grammaire s’adonner aux œuvres pies, au jeûne, à la prière, et particulièrement au culte de la très sainte Vierge. Sa chanté envers les pauvres était admirable. Plus tard, afin de mieux pratiquer encore toutes ces vertus, il voulut être inscrit au nombre des serviteurs de Dieu de Notre-Dame de la Scala de Sienne, d’où sont sortis plusieurs personnages illustres par leur sainteté. C’est là que le soin des malades, durant une peste qui sévissait cruellement dans la ville, lui donna l’occasion de mortifier son corps et d’exercer une charité vraiment incroyable. Entre autres vertus, il garda inviolablement la chasteté, malgré les dangers auxquels l’exposait la rare beauté de ses traits ; à tel point que les plus licencieux n’auraient osé-prononcer le moindre mot malsonnant en sa présence.

Après l’épreuve d’une grave maladie, endurée pendant quatre mois avec la plus entière résignation, il conçut enfin le projet d’embrasser la vie religieuse. Pour s’y acheminer, il loua une petite maison à l’extrémité de la ville ; il vécut là inconnu, menant la vie la plus austère, et priant Dieu continuellement de lui faire connaître le parti qu’il devait prendre. Ce fut donc d’après l’inspiration divine qu’il choisit l’Ordre de saint François, où il excella en humilité, en patience et en toutes les vertus religieuses. Le supérieur du couvent le remarqua, et comme il le savait déjà arrivé à un haut degré de connaissance des textes sacrés, il lui imposa le devoir de prêcher. Bernardin accepta humblement ce ministère, bien qu’il s’y reconnût peu apte en raison de la faiblesse et de l’enrouement de sa voix. Il implora le secours de Dieu, et il fut, non sans miracle, délivré de cet obstacle à son zèle.

Il y avait à cette époque un débordement de crimes en Italie, et de sanglantes factions y foulaient aux pieds toutes les lois divines et humaines. Bernardin parcourut les villes et les villages au nom de Jésus, qu’il avait toujours à la bouche et dans le cœur, et rétablit presque entièrement la piété et les bonnes mœurs qui avaient disparu. Sa réputation fit que plusieurs villes considérables le demandèrent au Pape en qualité d’Évêque ; mais il refusa constamment cette charge avec une humilité invincible. Enfin cet homme de Dieu, après de grands travaux, de nombreux et éclatants miracles, et après avoir laissé des écrits pleins de science et de piété, termina une vie de soixante-six années par une mort de prédestiné, à Aquila, ville de l’Abruzze. De nouveaux miracles le rendirent célèbre, et six ans après sa mort, le Pape Nicolas V le mit au nombre des Saints.


Dom Guéranger, l’Année Liturgique

Dans une autre saison de l’année liturgique, lorsque nous apportions nos hommages et nos vœux au berceau de l’Enfant divin, une de nos journées fut consacrée à célébrer la gloire et à goûter la douceur de son nom. La sainte Église tressaillait de bonheur en prononçant ce nom chéri que son céleste Époux a choisi de toute éternité, et le genre humain respirait à l’aise, en songeant que le grand Dieu qui pourrait s’appeler le Juste et le Vengeur, consentait à se nommer désormais le Sauveur. Le pieux Bernardin de Sienne, que nous fêtons aujourd’hui, nous apparut alors portant dans ses mains et élevant aux regards des hommes ce nom béni entouré de rayons. Il invitait toute la terre à vénérer avec amour et confiance cette appellation sacrée sous laquelle se révèle divinement toute l’économie de notre salut. L’Église attentive acceptait ce signe sacré ; elle encourageait ses fidèles à recevoir des mains de l’homme de Dieu un bouclier si puissant contre les traits de l’esprit des ténèbres, à goûter surtout un nom qui nous apprend jusqu’à quel excès Dieu a aimé le monde ; et lorsque le saint nom de Jésus eut enfin conquis par son adorable beauté tous les cœurs chrétiens, elle lui consacra une des plus touchantes solennités du Temps de Noël.

Aujourd’hui le noble enfant de saint François a reparu, et ses mains tiennent toujours la glorieuse effigie du nom sacré. Mais ce n’est plus l’appellation prophétique de l’Enfant nouveau-né, le doux nom que la Vierge-mère murmurait avec tendresse et respect, penchée sur son berceau ; c’est un nom qui retentit plus fort que tous les tonnerres, c’est le trophée de la plus éclatante des victoires, c’est la prophétie accomplie en son entier. Le nom de Jésus promettait au genre humain un Sauveur ; Jésus a sauvé le genre humain en mourant et en ressuscitant pour lui ; il est maintenant Jésus dans toute la plénitude de son nom. Parcourez la terre, et dites-nous en quel lieu ce nom n’est pas connu ; dites-nous quel autre nom a jamais réuni les hommes en une seule famille.

Les princes de la Synagogue ont voulu arrêter l’essor de ce nom victorieux, l’étouffer dans Jérusalem ; ils ont dit aux Apôtres : « Nous vous défendons d’enseigner en ce nom [1] » ; et c’est pour leur répondre que Pierre a prononcé cette forte sentence qui résume toute l’énergie de la sainte Église : « Mieux vaut obéir à Dieu qu’aux hommes. » Autant eût valu essayer d’arrêter le soleil dans son cours ; et lorsque bientôt la puissance romaine s’est mise en devoir de mettre obstacle par ses édits à la marche triomphante de ce nom devant lequel tout genou doit fléchir, elle s’est vue réduite à l’impuissance. Au bout de trois siècles le nom de Jésus planait sur le monde romain tout entier.

Armé de ce signe sacré, Bernardin parcourut au XVe siècle les villes de l’Italie armées les unes contre les autres, et souvent même divisées jusque dans leur propre sein. Le nom de Jésus entre ses mains devenait l’arc-en-ciel de la paix ; tout genou fléchissait, tout cœur ulcéré et vindicatif s’apaisait, tout pécheur courait aux sources du pardon, dans tous les lieux où Bernardin avait arboré ce puissant symbole. Les trois lettres qui représentent ce nom à jamais béni devenaient familières à tous les fidèles ; on les sculptait, on les gravait, on les peignait partout ; et la catholicité acquérait pour jamais une expression nouvelle de sa religion et de son amour envers le Sauveur des hommes.

Prédicateur inspiré, Bernardin a laissé de nombreux écrits qui révèlent en lui un docteur de premier ordre dans la science de Dieu. Il nous serait agréable, si l’espace nous le permettait, de le laisser exposer ici les grandeurs du mystère de la Pâque ; donnons du moins son sentiment sur l’apparition du Sauveur ressuscité à sa sainte mère. Le lecteur catholique verra avec joie l’unité de doctrine sur ce point si important régner entre l’école franciscaine représentée par saint Bernardin, et l’école dominicaine dont nous avons produit le témoignage à la fête de saint Vincent Ferrier.

« De ce que l’histoire évangélique ne donne aucun détail sur la visite que le Christ fit à sa mère pour la consoler, après qu’il fut ressuscité, on ne saurait conclure que le très miséricordieux Jésus, source de toute grâce et de toute consolation, si empressé à réjouir les siens par sa présence, aurait oublié sa mère qu’il savait avoir été si pleinement abreuvée des amertumes de sa Passion. Mais il a plu à la providence de Dieu de ne pas nous manifester cette particularité par le texte même de l’Évangile, et cela pour trois raisons.

En premier lieu, à cause de la fermeté de la foi qui était en Marie. La certitude qu’avait la Vierge-mère de la résurrection de son fils ne fut ébranlée en rien, même pas par le doute le plus léger. On le croira aisément, si l’on veut réfléchir à la grâce très particulière dont fut remplie la mère du Christ-Dieu, la reine des Anges, la maîtresse de l’univers. Le silence de l’Écriture à ce sujet en dit plus que l’affirmation même aux âmes vraiment éclairées. Nous avons appris à connaître Marie lors de la visite de l’Ange, au moment où l’Esprit-Saint la couvrit de son ombre ; nous l’avons retrouvée au pied de la croix, mère de douleurs, se tenant près de son fils mourant. Si donc l’Apôtre a pu dire : « En proportion de ce que vous aurez eu part aux souffrances, vous participerez aux consolations [2] » ; calculez d’après cela la mesure selon laquelle la Vierge-mère dut être associée aux joies de la résurrection. On doit donc tenir pour certain que son très doux fils ressuscité l’a consolée avant tous les autres. C’est ce que la sainte Église Romaine semble vouloir exprimer en célébrant à Sainte-Marie-Majeure la Station du jour de Pâques. Autrement si, de ce que les Évangélistes n’en disent rien, vous vouliez conclure que son fils ressuscité ne lui est pas apparu en premier lieu, il faudrait aller jusqu’à dire qu’il ne s’est pas du tout montré à elle, puisque les mêmes Évangélistes, dans les diverses apparitions qu’ils rapportent, n’en signalent pas une seule qui la concerne. Une telle conclusion aurait quelque chose d’impie.

En second lieu, le silence de l’Évangile s’explique par l’infidélité des hommes. Le but de l’Esprit-Saint, en dictant les Évangiles, était de décrire celles des apparitions qui pouvaient enlever tout doute aux hommes charnels au sujet de la croyance en la résurrection du Christ. La qualité de mère eût diminué à leurs yeux le témoignage de Marie ; et c’est pour ce motif qu’elle n’a pas été alléguée, bien qu’il ne pût y avoir, assurément, parmi tous les êtres nés ou à naître, si l’on en excepte l’humanité de son fils, aucune créature dont l’assertion méritât mieux d’être admise par toute âme vraiment pieuse. Mais il fallait que le texte évangélique ne nous produisît que des témoignages qui fussent de nature à être émis en présence de tout le monde ; quant à l’apparition de Jésus à sa mère, l’Esprit-Saint l’a laissée à ceux qui sont éclairés de sa lumière.

En troisième lieu, ce silence s’explique par la sublimité même de l’apparition. Après la résurrection, les Évangiles ne disent plus rien sur la mère du Christ, par cette raison que ses relations de tendresse avec son fils furent désormais tellement sublimes, tellement ineffables, qu’il n’y aurait pas de termes pour les exprimer. Il est deux sortes de visions : l’une purement corporelle, et faible en proportion ; l’autre qui a son siège principal dans l’âme, et qui ne convient qu’aux âmes déjà transformées. Admettez, si vous voulez, que Madeleine a eu part avant les autres à la vision purement corporelle, pourvu que vous reconnaissiez que la Vierge a vu avant elle, et d’une manière bien autrement sublime, son fils ressuscité, qu’elle l’a reconnu, et qu’elle a joui tout d’abord de ses délicieux embrassements dans son âme plus encore que dans son corps [3]. »

Qu’ils sont beaux, ô Bernardin, les rayons qui forment nom de Jésus ! Que leur lumière est douce, au moment où le Fils de Dieu reçoit ce nom sauveur, le huitième jour après sa naissance ! Mais quel œil mortel pourrait supporter leur éclat, lorsque Jésus opère notre salut, non plus dans l’humilité et la souffrance, mais par le triomphe de sa résurrection ? C’est au milieu des splendeurs pascales du nom de Jésus que vous nous apparaissez, ô Bernardin ! Ce nom que vous avez aimé et glorifié vous associe désormais à son immortelle victoire. Maintenant donc répandez sur nous, plus abondamment encore que vous ne le faisiez sur la terre, les trésors d’amour, d’admiration et d’espérance dont ce divin nom est la source, et purifiez les yeux de notre âme, afin que nous puissions un jour contempler avec vous ses magnificences.

Apôtre de la paix, l’Italie, dont vous avez si souvent apaisé les factions, a droit de vous compter au rang de ses protecteurs. Voyez-la en ces jours livrée en proie aux ennemis du Sauveur des hommes, rebelle à la voix de la sainte Église, et tristement abandonnée à son sort. Ne vous souviendrez-vous pas que c’est dans son sein que vous avez pris naissance, qu’elle fut docile à votre voix, et que longtemps votre mémoire lui fut chère ? Intervenez en sa faveur ; arrachez-la à ceux qui l’oppriment, et montrez qu’au défaut des armées de la terre, les milices célestes peuvent toujours sauver les villes et les provinces.

Illustre fils du grand patriarche d’Assise, l’Ordre séraphique vous vénère comme l’une de ses principales colonnes. Vous avez ravivé dans son sein l’observance primitive ; continuez du haut du ciel à protéger l’œuvre commencée par vous ici-bas. La famille de saint François est l’un des plus fermes appuis de la sainte Église ; faites-la fleurir toujours, soutenez-la dans les tempêtes, multipliez-la en proportion des besoins du peuple fidèle ; car vous êtes le second père de cette famille sacrée, et vos prières sont puissantes auprès du Rédempteur dont vous avez confessé le nom glorieux sur la terre.

[1] Act. V, 28.

[2] II Cor. I, 7.

[3] Sermo LII Dominica in resurrectione, art. III.


Bhx Cardinal Schuster, Liber Sacramentorum

Dans les plus célèbres cités de l’Italie centrale, à Sienne, par exemple, à Pérouse, à Florence, on conserve vivant, aujourd’hui encore, le souvenir de la prédication de ce saint Frère Mineur (+ 1444) qui, à une époque de discordes civiles et de dissolution des mœurs, tonna du haut de la chaire contre le vice, tel un prophète de l’Ancien Testament, et ramena les fidèles dans la voie de l’Évangile.

La fête de ce fervent apôtre de la dévotion au saint Nom de Jésus fut insérée dans le calendrier romain au XVe siècle. A l’époque de la révision du Bréviaire un siècle plus tard, elle fut tour à tour supprimée puis rétablie. En fait, la renommée de Bernardin est universelle, et dans l’histoire de la réforme catholique qui prépara les voies aux Conciles de Latran et de Trente, il occupe en Italie une des places les plus importantes.

La messe Os iusti est du Commun des simples Confesseurs, mais la première collecte est propre.

Prière. — « Seigneur Jésus qui avez inspiré un amour très ardent pour votre saint Nom à votre bienheureux confesseur Bernardin ; daignez aussi répandre en nous l’esprit de votre amour, par ses mérites et son intercession. Vous qui vivez, etc. »

La lecture évangélique est identique à celle de la messe des Abbés.

De même que la mission de Jésus fut de manifester au monde le nom de son Père céleste, ainsi le but de chaque chrétien doit être d’exprimer Jésus dans sa vie, afin que pensées, affections, paroles, actes, expriment la sainteté, l’ineffable bonté, la douceur et le salut. Au moment de la mort, nous devrons pouvoir dire nous aussi au Seigneur, en résumant, comme le Rédempteur, notre course mortelle : Pater, manifestavi nomen tuum hominibus... nunc autem ad te venio. Quel sublime programme de sainteté !


Dom Pius Parsch, le Guide dans l’année liturgique

Au nom de Jésus tous les genoux doivent fléchir.

Saint Bernardin. — Jour de mort : 20 mai 1444, à Aquila. Tombeau : dans la même ville, dans l’église qui porte son nom. Image : On le représente en franciscain, tenant à la main un soleil avec le monogramme de Jésus. Vie : Saint Bernardin naquit en 1380, à Carrare, en Italie. Tout jeune, il s’adonna, à Sienne, pendant la peste, au soin des malades. Dans une grave maladie, il prit la résolution — d’entrer dans un monastère. Il se fit franciscain et fut chargé par ses supérieurs du ministère de la prédication. Il obéit humblement malgré sa voix faible et rauque ; il fut guéri miraculeusement de son mal de gorge. Il fut désormais un prédicateur populaire très éloquent et un apôtre dévoré du zèle des âmes. Il parcourut toute l’Italie, prêchant surtout le Saint Nom de Jésus (Or.). Il exerça une puissante influence sur son temps, il prépara les voies à la vraie réforme. Rarement un saint eut tant de disciples et des disciples si marquants. (Il eut, parmi eux, saint Jean de Capistran). Quand saint Bernardin entrait dans une ville, il faisait porter devant lui une bannière sur laquelle était dessiné le monogramme du doux nom de Jésus (IHS), entouré de douze rayons solaires et couronné d’une croix. Quand il prêchait, cette bannière était suspendue auprès de la chaire. Parfois, quand il prêchait sur le Nom de Jésus, il portait, en outre, à la main, une tablette sur laquelle était Inscrit le Nom divin en grosses lettres que tous les auditeurs pouvaient voir. Par ses exhortations zélées, il détermina un grand nombre de prêtres à faire peindre le Nom de Jésus à l’intérieur et à l’extérieur des vêtements sacerdotaux, et à distribuer des petites images du nom de Jésus parmi le peuple. C’est sur ces conseils, aussi, qu’on inscrivit le monogramme en grosses lettres sur les murs extérieurs des hôtels de ville de plusieurs villes d’Italie, comme on peut le voir aujourd’hui encore à Sienne (Pastor).

La messe (Os justi) est du commun des confesseurs, l’Évangile du commun des Abbés : « Voici que nous avons tout quitté ». L’Église veut exposer son grand amour de la pauvreté. L’oraison demande pour nous, à l’exemple de saint Bernardin, l’amour du nom de Jésus.

Pratique : Nous admirons aujourd’hui le brûlant amour du saint pour le Nom de Jésus. Proposons-nous d’avoir ce nom sur les lèvres et encore plus dans le cœur, car ce saint nom éveille toujours l’amour du Sauveur. Mais ne prononçons jamais le Nom de Jésus avec légèreté et sans respect.

SOURCE : http://www.introibo.fr/20-05-St-Bernardin-de-Sienne


Antonio Vivarini, Saint Bernardin de Sienne 
entre saint Antoine abbé et saint Louis de Toulouse
1451-56, détrempe sur bois. Venise, S. Francesco della Vigna.

Bernardin Albizeschi, né le 8 septembre 1380, à Massa Marittima, dans la Maremme toscane, entra chez les Frères Mineurs (8 septembre 1402) et fit la plus grande partie de son noviciat, près de Sienne, au couvent de Colombaio. Ordonné prêtre, le 7 septembre 1404, il se consacra à la prédication où il se révéla un orateur de grand talent et plein d’originalité. Pendant vingt-cinq ans, il parcourut toute l’Italie et répandit la dévotion au saint Nom de Jésus dont il fit peindre partout le monogramme I H S (Jésus Sauveur des hommes). Il mourut à Aquila le 20 mai 1444 et fut canonisé le 24 mai 1450.



St Bernardin de Sienne, un franciscain amoureux de Marie

Saint Bernardin (1380-1444) est franciscain, prédicateur populaire, et très amoureux de la mère du Seigneur.

On ne peut pas ignorer que certaines affirmations de saint Bernardin de Sienne sur la Vierge sont exagérées, étranges et inacceptables[1] si on ne tient pas compte du contexte de sa doctrine et des circonstances dans lesquelles elles furent prononcées. Saint Bernardin de Sienne était un prédicateur populaire, attentif et sensible à la mentalité et à la religiosité de ses auditeurs. C'est pourquoi ses intempérances de pensée et d'expression abondent dans les sermons en langue vulgaire ; mais dans ses sermons en langue latine, saint Bernardin se révèle plus disposé à l'usage d'un langage plus rigoureux.

De toute façon, pour connaître saint Bernardin, il n'est pas correct de se limiter aux assertions exagérées ou étranges.

Mère incomparable, montée au ciel

« Elle est devenue Notre Dame à l'Assomption, quand elle "fut exaltée au-dessus des chœurs des anges dans les royaumes célestes"[2]; et elle devint "reine des cieux et reine des anges". Mais elle fut déjà admirablement illuminée à l'instant de l'infusion de son âme dans le corps; en mesure plus admirable encore au moment de la conception du Fils de Dieu; et de manière admirable superlativement au moment de son Assomption et de sa glorification. »

De la salutation angélique, sermon 52, a 1, c 1.

Médiatrice des dons de l'Esprit Saint

« A partir du jour où la Vierge Marie conçut le Verbe divin elle acquit comme un droit spécial sur toutes les processions temporelles du Saint-Esprit, c'est-à-dire sur tous les dons que l'Esprit-Saint communique aux hommes, en sorte que depuis lors personne n'a reçu de Dieu aucune grâce, si ce n'est par l'entremise et des mains de Marie, notre bonne et tendre Mère »

De la salutation angélique, sermon 52, a 1, c 1.

« Depuis le moment où elle est devenue la Mère du Fils de Dieu qui est celui qui donne l'Esprit Saint, tous les dons, les vertus et les grâces du même Esprit Saint sont accordés à travers ses mains, elle les donne à qui elle veut, quand elle veut et dans la mesure qu'elle veut. »

De la salutation angélique, sermon 61, a 1, c 8

[1] Hilda Graef considère Bernardin comme un représentant de la mariolâtrie médiévale qui aurait provoqué la réaction protestante.

[2] Antienne pour la fête de l'Assomption.

Saint Bernardin de Sienne.

Cf. Luigi Gambero, Maria nel pensiero dei teologi latini medievali, ed San Paolo, 2000, p.359-368

SOURCE : http://www.mariedenazareth.com/1031.0.html?&L=0

RÉSUMÉ :

En cette époque de l’année où Jésus par Son triomphe a réalisé Son nom de Sauveur, le Cycle liturgique nous fait célébrer la fête de saint Bernardin qui fut embrasé « du très ardent amour de ce divin Nom ».

Issu d’une noble famille de Sienne, Bernardin renonça à tous ses biens. Il garda intacte sa chasteté, malgré les dangers auxquels l’exposait la rare beauté de ses traits. L’Église lui applique ces paroles de nos Saints Livres : « Il a pu violer le Commandement de Dieu, et il ne l’a point violé ». « Ne mettant point son espérance dans l’argent et les trésors » il quitta tout pour suivre le Christ , et entra dans l’Ordre de saint François dont il est l’une des gloires.

Parcourant les villes et les villages, il prêchait partout le Nom de Jésus et opérait de la sorte de nombreux miracles. Saint Pierre Célestin lui apparut pour l’avertir de sa fin prochaine qui survint la veille de l’Ascension, en l’an 1444.

Demandons à Dieu, par l’intercession et les mérites de saint Bernardin, de nous donner un grand amour pour le Nom de Jésus et de répandre par là en nous la flamme de Sa divine Charité.

Le principal caractère de la vie de ce grand saint, c’est son amour extraordinaire pour la très sainte Vierge, dont il fut toujours l’enfant chéri. Né le 8 septembre, jour de la Nativité de Marie, c’était l’an 1380, Clément VII étant pape, Wenceslas empereur et Charles VI roi de France, Bernardin fut privé, tout jeune, de ses nobles et pieux parents ; mais il trouva dans une de ses tantes une véritable mère, qui le conduisit, par ses leçons et ses exemples, dans le chemin de la vertu.

Voyant un jour cette femme refuser de donner à un pauvre, il lui dit : « Pour l’amour de Dieu, donnez à ce pauvre ; autrement je ne prendrai rien aujourd’hui ». Sa pureté était si grande, que le moindre mot inconvenant l’affligeait profondément : « Silence, disaient les étudiants quand ils le voyaient apparaître au milieu de leurs conversations trop libres, silence, voici Bernardin ! »

À dix-sept ans, il entra dans une confrérie de gardes-malades, et soigna pendant quatre ans, dans un hôpital, avec un dévouement et une douceur rares, toutes les infirmités humaines. Se traitant lui-même avec la dernière dureté, il ne songeait qu’aux besoins des autres ; il parut surtout héroïque dans une peste où il s’imposa mille fatigues et brava mille fois la mort.

L’inspiration du Ciel le conduisit alors chez les Franciscains qui le lancèrent bientôt dans la prédication. Grâce à la bonté de sa Mère céleste, sa voix faible et presque éteinte devint inopinément claire et sonore ; Bernardin fut un apôtre aussi brillant par son éloquence que par sa science, et opéra en Italie de merveilleux fruits de salut. Nul ne pouvait résister aux accents de sa parole enflammée.

Faisant un jour l’éloge de la sainte Vierge, il lui appliqua cette parole de l’Apocalypse : « Un grand signe est apparu au Ciel ». Au même instant, une étoile d’une admirable clarté apparut au-dessus de sa tête.

Une autre fois, parlant en italien, il fut parfaitement compris par des auditeurs grecs qui ne connaissaient que leur langue maternelle. Un jour, un pauvre lépreux lui demanda l’aumône ; Bernardin, qui ne portait jamais d’argent, lui donna ses souliers ; mais à peine le malheureux les eut-il chaussés, qu’il se sentit soulagé et vit disparaître peu à peu toute trace de sa terrible maladie.

Bernardin, allant prêcher, devait traverser une rivière et ne pouvait obtenir le passage de la part d’un batelier cupide auquel il n’avait rien à donner. Confiant en Celui pour qui il travaillait, il étendit son manteau sur les eaux, et, montant sur ce frêle esquif, passa la rivière.

C’est à Bernardin de Sienne que remonte la dévotion au saint Nom de Jésus ; il ne pouvait prononcer ce Nom sans éprouver des transports extraordinaires. Peu de saints ont tracé un sillon aussi profond dans l’Église et gagné tant d’âmes à Dieu. Il mourut à soixante-quatre ans, la veille de l’Ascension de l’année 1444, Eugène IV étant pape, Frédéric III empereur et Charles VII roi de France.

SOURCE : http://www.cassicia.com/FR/S-Bernardin-de-Sienne-No_336.htm


SAINT BERNARDIN DE SIENNE, CONFESSEUR.

20 MAI

L'an 1444. — Bernardin était de la famille Albizeschi, une des plus nobles maisons de Sienne. Il donna dès l'enfance tes marques étonnantes de sainteté; car tandis que ses pieux parents s'occupaient avec le plus grand soin de son éducation, il négligeait les jeux de son âge, et mêlait à l'étude des premières notions de la grammaire les oeuvres de piété auxquelles il se livrait de tout son coeur, jeûnant, priant, s'appliquant surtout à honorer la bienheureuse - Vierge Marie, admirable déjà pour la charité dont il était rempli à l'égard des pauvres Ce fut afin de pouvoir mieux se livrer à ces oeuvres saintes que dans la suite il voulut être du nombre des personnes qui, à Sienne, servent Dieu dans l'hôpital de Sainte Marie-de-la-Scala, association qui la vu sortir de son sein bien des hommes d'une éminente sainteté. Bernardin écut dans cette maison, continuelle-ment occupé à mortifier son i-ceps et à soigner les malades. Une peste cruelle qui survint lui donna occasion de se livrer à l'exercice de sa charité avec une ardeur incroyable. Au milieu de tant de vertus qu'il ne cessait de pratiquer, il s'appliqua de toutes ses forces à conserver la chasteté et à se prémunir contre Iss occasions périlleuses que pouvait lui susciter souvent son extérieur distingué; et il réussit à ce point que l'homme le plus impudent n'aurait osé proférer devant lui une parole déplacée. Dieu l'éprouva par une cruelle maia..ie, qu'il supporta avec une patience admirable; et quand il fut guéri, il commençait délibérer pour savoir dans quel institut il embrasserait la vie religieuse. Pour mieux connaître sa vocation, il loua à l'extrémité de la ville une petite cabane, dans laquelle il se cacha, menant la vie la plus dure , priant Dieu sansretâche, afin de savoir quel parti il lui fallait prendre. Dieu lui ayant fait connaître qu'il devait choisir l'ordre de Saint-François, il y entra, et se distingua bientôt par son humilité, sa patience et toutes les vertus d'un vrai religieux. Ce que voyant, le supérieur du couvent, qui déjà depuis longtemps connaissait l'instruction et le talent de Bernardin dans tout ce qui tenait aux lettres sacrées, lui imposa la charge de prédicateur. Bernardin se soumit humblement; et coin ue il se connaissait peu capable de ce ministère, cause de l'enrouement de sa voix , il pria Dieu qu'il le délivrai de cette sorte d'infirmité; ce qui eut lieu. A l'époque oü vivait Bernardin , les crimes et les vices abondaient, et tout était bouleversé en Italie par des fassions sanguinaires, l'ordre religieux aussi bien que les institutions humaines. Le saint parcourtt les villes et les bourgades, prêchant, au nom de Jésus-Christ, nom sacré qu'il avait toujours sur les lèvres et dans te cmur, et il vint à bout par ses discours et ses exemples de réparer presque partout les ruines de la piété et de moeurs. Les villes les plus célèbres le demandèrent au Pape pour évêque; mais il refusa cette charge avec une constance et une humilité qui ne purent être vaincues. Enfin, épuisé par ses immenses travaux, célèbre pour ses miracles et ses écrits si pieux et si savants, l'homme de bien se reposa dans une heureuse fin à Aquilée , après avoir vécu 66 ans. Ses miracles jetèrent tant d'éclat après sa mort que le pape Nicolas V le canonisa, six ans seulement après qu'il eut quitté ce monde.

PRATIQUE. — _lyons toujours sur les lettres et dons le coeur le nom Sacré de Jésus.

PRIÈRE - Seigneur Jésus , qui avez donné à votre bienheureux conirsseUr Bernardin un Si grand amour de cotre saint nom, nous conjurons votre bonté, par ses mérites et son intercession, de répudie en nous l'es-prit de votre dilection. Ainsi soit-il.

SOURCE : http://jesus-passion.com/saint_bernardin_oe_sienne_FR.htm



St. Bernardine of Siena

Friar Minor, missionary, and reformer, often called the "Apostle of Italy", b. of the noble family of Albizeschi atMassa, a Sienese town of which his father was then governor, 8 September, 1380; d. at Aquila in the Abruzzi, 20 May, 1444. Left an orphan at six Bernardine was brought up with great care by his pious aunts. His youth was blameless and engaging. In 1397 after a course of civil and canon law, he joined the Confraternity of OurLady attached to the great hospital of Santa Maria della Scala. Three years later, when the pestilence revisitedSiena, he came forth from the life of seclusion and prayer he had embraced, to minister to the plague-stricken, and, assisted by ten companions, took upon himself for four months entire charge of this hospital. Despite his youth Bernardine proved fully equal to this task, but the heroic and unremitting labour it involved so far shattered his health that he never completely recovered. Having distributed his patrimony in charity,Bernardine received the habit of the Friars Minor at San Francesco in Siena, 8 September, 1402, but soon withdrew to the Observantine convent of Columbaio outside the city. He was professed 8 September, 1403 andordained 8 September, 1404. About 1406 S. Vincent Ferrer, while preaching at Alexandria in Piedmont, foretold that his mantle should descend upon one who was then listening to him, and said that he would return toFrance and Spain leaving to Bernardine the task of evangelizing the remaining peoples of Italy.

Nearly twelve years passed before this prediction was fulfilled. During this period, of which we have no details, Bernardine seems to have lived in retirement at Capriola. It was in 1417 that his gift of eloquence was made manifest and his missionary life really began at Milan at the close of that year. Thenceforth, various cities contended for the honour of hearing him, and he was often compelled to preach in the market places, his auditors sometimes numbering thirty thousand. Bernardine gradually gained an immense influence over the turbulent, luxurious Italian cities. Pius II, who as a youth had been a spellbound auditor of Bernardine, records that the saint was listened to as another Paul, and Vespasiano da Bisticci, a well-known Florentinebiographer, says that by his sermons Bernardine "cleansed all Italy from sins of every kind in which she abounded". The penitents, we are told, flocked to confession "like ants", and in several cities the reformsurged by the saint were embodied in the laws under the name of Riformazioni di frate Bernardino. Indeed, the success which crowned Bernardine's labours to promote morality and regenerate society, can scarcely be exaggerated. He preached with apostolic freedom, openly censuring Visconti, Duke of Milan, and elsewhere fearlessly rebuking the evil in high places which undermined the Quattrocento. In each city he denounced the reigning vice so effectively that bonfires were kindled and "vanities" were cast upon them by the cartload.Usury was one of the principal objects of the saint's attacks, and he did much to prepare the way for the establishment of the beneficial loan societies, known as Monti di Pietà. But Bernardine's watchword, like that of St. Francis, was "Peace". On foot he traversed the length and breadth of Italy peacemaking, and his eloquence was exercised with great effect towards reconciling the mutual hatred of Guelphs and Ghibellines. At Crema, as a result of his preaching, the political exiles were recalled and even reinstated in their confiscated possessions. Everywhere Bernardine persuaded the cities to take down the arms of their warringfactions from the church and palace walls and to inscribe there, instead, the initials I. H. S. He thus gave a new impulse and a tangible form to the devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus which was ever a favourite topic with him and which he came to regard as a potent means of rekindling popular fervour. He used to hold a board in front of him while preaching, with the sacred monogram painted on it in the midst of rays and afterwards expose it for veneration. This custom he appears to have introduced at Volterra in 1424. AtBologna Bernardine induced a card-painter, who had been ruined by his sermons against gambling, to make a living by designing these tablets, and such was the desire to possess them that the man soon realized a small fortune.


In spite of his popularity — perhaps rather on account of it — Bernardine had to suffer both opposition andpersecution. He was accused of heresy, the tablets he had used to promote devotion to the Holy Name being made the basis of a clever attack by the adherents of the Dominican, Manfred of Vercelli, whose falsepreaching about Antichrist Bernardine had combated. The saint was charged with having introduced a profane, new devotion which exposed the people to the danger of idolatry, and he was cited to appear before the pope. This was in 1427. Martin V received Bernardine coldly and forbade him to preach or exhibit his tablets until his conduct had been examined. The saint humbly submitted, his sermons and writings being handed over to a commission and a day set for his trial. The latter took place at St. Peter's in presence of the pope, 8 June, St. John Capistran having charge of the saint's defence. The malice and futility of the charges against Bernardinewere so completely demonstrated that the pope not only justified and commended the saint's teaching, but urged him to preach in Rome. Martin V subsequently approved Bernardine's election as Bishop of Siena. Thesaint, however, declined this honour as well as the Sees of Ferrara and Urbino, offered to him in 1431 and 1435, respectively, saying playfully that all Italy was already his diocese. After the accession of Eugene IVBernardine's enemies renewed their accusations against him, but the pope by a Bull, 7 January 1432, annulled their highhanded, secret proceedings and thus reduced the saint's calumniators to silence, nor does the question seem to have been reopened during the Council of Basle as some have asserted. The vindication ofBernardine's teaching was perpetuated by the feast of the Triumph of the Holy Name, conceded to the Friars Minor in 1530 and extended to the Universal Church in 1722.

In 1433 Bernardine accompanied the Emperor Sigismund to Rome for the latter's coronation. Soon after he withdrew to Capriola to compose a series of sermons. He resumed his missionary labours in 1436, but was forced to abandon them in 1438 on his election as Vicar-General of the Observants throughout Italy.Bernardine had laboured strenuously to spread this branch of the Friars Minor from the outset of his religious life, but it is erroneous to style him its founder since the origin of the Observants may be traced back to the middle of the fourteenth century. Although not the immediate founder of this reform, Bernardine became to the Observants what St. Bernard was to the Cistercians their principal support and indefatigable propagator. Some idea of his zeal may be gathered from the fact that, instead of the one hundred and thirty Friarsconstituting the Observance in Italy at Bernardine's reception into the order, it counted over four thousand before his death. In addition to the number he received into the order, Bernardine himself founded, or reformed, at least three hundred convents of Friars. Not content with extending his religious family at home,Bernardine sent missionaries to different parts of the Orient and it was largely through his efforts that so many ambassadors from different schismatical nations attended the Council of Florence in which we find thesaint addressing the assembled Fathers in Greek. Having in 1442 persuaded the pope to accept his resignation as vicar-general so that he might give himself more undividedly to preaching, Bernardine resumed hismissionary labours. Although a Bull was issued by Eugene IV, 26 May, 1443, charging Bernardine to preach theindulgence for the Crusade against the Turks, there is no record of his having done so. There is, moreover, no good reason to believe that the saint ever preached outside Italy, and the missionary journey to Palestine mentioned by one of his early biographers may perhaps be traced to a confusion of names.

In 1444, notwithstanding his increasing infirmities, Bernardine, desirous that there should be no part of Italywhich had not heard his voice, set out to evangelize the Kingdom of Naples. Being too weak to walk, he was compelled to ride an ass. But worn out by his laborious apostolate of forty years the saint was taken down with fever and reached Aquila in a dying state. There lying on the bare ground he passed away on Ascension eve, the 20th of May, just as the Friars in choir were chanting the anthem: Pater manifestavi nomen Tuumhominibus . . . ad Te venio. The magistrates refused to allow Bernardine's body to be removed to Siena, and after a funeral of unprecedented splendour laid it in the church of the Conventuals. Miracles multiplied after the saint's death, and he was canonized by Nicholas V, 24 May, 1450. On 17 May, 1472, Bernardine's body wassolemnly translated to the new church of the Observants at Aquila, especially erected to receive it, and enclosed in a costly shrine presented by Louis XI of France. This church having been completely destroyed by earthquake in 1703, was replaced by another edifice where the precious relics of St. Bernardine are stillvenerated. His feast is celebrated on 20 May.

St. Bernardine is accounted the foremost Italian missionary of the fifteenth century, the greatest preacher of his day, the Apostle of the Holy Name, and the restorer of the Order of Friars Minor. He remains one of the most popular of Italian saints, more especially in his own Siena. With both painters and sculptors he has ever been a favourite figure. He frequently finds a place in della Robbia groups; perhaps the best series of pictures of his life is that by Pinturicchio at Ara Coeli in Rome, while the carved reliefs on the façade of the Oratory ofPerugia, built in 1461 by the magistrates of that faction-rent city in gratitude for Bernardine's efforts for peace among them, are considered one of the loveliest productions of Renaissance art. But the best portrait ofBernardine is to be found in his own sermons and this is especially true of those in the vernacular. That we are able to enter so thoroughly into the spirit of these Prediche volgari is due to the pious industry of one Benedetto, a Sienese fuller, who took down word for word, with a style on wax tablets, a complete course ofBernardine's Lenten sermons delivered in 1427, and afterwards transcribed them on parchment. Benedetto's original manuscript is lost, but several very ancient copies of it are extant. All the forty-five sermons it comprises have been printed (Le Prediche Volgari Di Siena, 1880-88, 3 vols.). These sermons which often lasted three or four hours, throw much light on the fifteenth-century preaching and on the customs and manners of the time. Couched in the simplest and most popular language — for Bernardine everywhere adapted himself to the local dialect and parlance — they abound in illustrations, anecdotes, digressions, and asides. The saint often resorted to mimicry and was much given to making jokes. But his native Sienesegayety and characteristic Franciscan playfulness detracted nothing from the effect of his sermons, and his exhortations to the people to avert God's wrath by penance, are as powerful as his appeals for peace andcharity are pathetic. Very different from these popular Italian sermons taken down della viva voce are the series of Latin sermons written by Bernardine, which are in fact formal dissertations with minute divisions and subdivisions, intended to elucidate his teaching and to serve rather as a guide to himself and others than for practical delivery. Besides these Latin sermons which reveal profound theological knowledge, Bernardine left a number of other writings which enjoy a high reputation — dissertations, essays, and letters on practical,ascetical, and mystical theology, and on religious discipline, including treatises on the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph, used in the Breviary lessons, and a commentary on the Apocalypse. Bernardine's writings were first collected and published at Lyons in 1501. De la Haye's edition, "Sti. Bernardini Senensis Ordinis SeraphiciMinorum Opera Omnia", issued at Paris and Lyons in 1536, was reprinted there in 1650, and at Venice in 1745. As a result of the petition addressed to the Holy See in 1882 by the General Chapter of the Friars Minor, requesting that St. Bernardine be declared a Doctor of the Church, a careful inquiry was instituted as to theauthenticity of the works attributed to the saint. Some of these are certainly spurious and others are doubtfulor interpolated, while not all the saint's genuine works are contained in the editions we possess. A complete and critical edition of St. Bernardine's writings is much needed. An excellent selection from his ascetical works was recently issued by Cardinal Vives (Sti. Bernardini Senensis de Dominicâ Passione, Resurrectione et SS. Nomine Jesu Contemplationes, Rome, 1903).


We are fortunate in possessing several detailed lives of St. Bernardine written by his contemporaries. Three of these are given in full bin the Acta Sanctorum Maji, V, with Comm. Praev. by Henschen. The earliest by Bernabaeus Senensis, an eyewitness of much he records, was compiled in 1445 shortly after the saint's death. The second by the celebrated humanist, Maphaeus Vegius, who knew the saint personally, was printed in 1453. The third by Fra Ludovicus Vincentinus of Aquila was issued after the translation of the saint's body in 1472. A fourth contemporary biography by a Friar Minor, hitherto unedited, has lately been printed both by Father Van Ortroy, S.J., in the Anal. Bolland. (XXV, 1906, pp. 304-389) and by Father Ferdinand M. d'Ardules, O.F.M. (Rome, 1906). The life of St. Bernardine written in Italian by his name Bl. Bernardine of Fossa (d. 1503), and mentioned by Sbaralea and others does not appear to have come down to us. But the latter's "Chronica Fratrum Minorum Observantiae", edited by Lemmens (Rome, 1902), contains several important references. A valuable account of Bernardine's youth is furnished by Leonardus (Benvoglienti) Senensis,Sienese ambassador to the pope. This work which was edited by Father Van Ortroy in Anal. Bolland., XXI (1902), 53-80, was compiled in 1446 at the instance of St. John Capistran. The "Life" of St. Bernardine attributed to St. John himself, and the one transcribed by Surius in his "Vita SS." (1618), V, 267-281, as well as the tributes to Bernardine of Pius II and St. Antoninus and the acts of his canonization are found in vol. I of de la Haye's edition of Bernardine's works.


Timbre-poste émis par la Principauté de Monaco en 1975.
Sur le même modèle, chaque année pendant une décennie, émission en l’honneur de la Croix-Rouge monégasque formant une série homogène des Saints charitables.

Sources

Wadding, Annales, XII, ad ann. 1450, n. I and Scriptores (1650), 57-58; Sbaralea, Supplementum (1806), 131-134, 725; Amadio Luzzo, Vita di S. Bernardino (Venice, 1744; Rome, 1826; Siena, 1854; Monza, 1873); Berthaumier, Hist. De S. Bernardin (Paris, 1862); Toussaint, Das Leben des H. Bernardin von Siena (Ratisbon, 1873); Life of St. Bernardine of Siena (London, 1873); Leo de Clary, Lives of the Saints of the Three Orders of St. Francis (Taunton, 1886), II, 220-275; Leon, Vie de St. Bernardin (Vanves, 1893); Alessio, Storia di S. Bernardino e del suo tempo (Mondovi, 1899); Ronzoni, L'Eloquenza di S. Bernardino (Siena, 1899). Undoubtedly the best modern life of St. Bernardine is that by Paul Thureau-Dangin of the French Academy: Un prédicateur populaire dans l'Italie de la Renaissance: S. Bernardin de Siene (Paris, 1896). This brilliant monograph has been translated into Italian (1897), German (1904), and English (1906).

Robinson, Paschal. "St. Bernardine of Siena." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 2. New York: Robert Appleton Company,1907. 4 Apr. 2015 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02505b.htm>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Olivia Olivares. Dedicated to the memory of Joseph Cardinal Bernardin (1928-1996).


Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.

SOURCE : http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02505b.htm


Pinturicchio. Saint Bernardin guérissant un aveugle, 1473, Perugia, Galleria Nazionale dell'Umbria

St. Bernardine of Siena

In the year 1400, a young man came to the door of the largest hospital in Siena. A plague was raging through the city so horrible that as many as twenty people died each day just in the hospital alone. And many of the people who died were those who were needed to tend the ill. It was a desperate situation — more and more people were falling ill and fewer and fewer people were there to help them.

The twenty-year-old man who stood there had not come because he was ill but because he wanted to help. And he brought not new patients but young men like himself willing to tend the dying. For four months Bernardine and his companions worked day and night not only to comfort the patients but to organize and clean the hospital. Only at the end of the plague did Bernardine himself fall ill — of exhaustion.

But that was Bernardine’s way — whatever he did, he put his whole self into it. Immediately after he recovered he was back caring for the sick — but this time, he was responsible not for a whole hospital but one person — an invalid aunt. Yet for fourteen months she got his full attention. Throughout his life, he put as much energy into caring for one person as for hundreds, as much commitment into converting one citizen as to preaching to a whole city.

After his aunt died, Bernardine started to think about where his life should be going. The son of a noble family, he had been orphaned at seven and raised by an aunt. We are told as a young person that he hated indecent talk so much that he would blush when he heard it. Even his schoolmates hesitated to make him so uncomfortable but apparently one adult citizen thought it would be a great joke to needle Bernardine. In a public marketplace he stopped Bernardine and started to talk to him in a shameful way. But if he had thought to get away with his cruel trick, he was surprised when Bernardine slapped him in the face. The man slunk away, shamed in front of the very crowd he’d been trying to impress.

Bernardine, who had come to Siena to study, threw himself into prayer and fasting to discover what God wanted him to do. One might have expected him to continue his work with the sick but in 1403 he joined the Franciscans and in 1404 he was ordained a priest.

The Franciscans were known as missionary preachers, but Bernardine did very little preaching with because of a voice that was weak and hoarse. For twelve years he remained in the background, his energies going to prayer or to his own spiritual conversion and preparation.

At the end of that time, he went to Milan on a mission. When he got up to preach his voice was strong and commanding and his words so convincing that the crowd would not let him leave unless he promised to come back.

Thus began the missionary life of the one whom Pope Pius II called a second Paul. As usual, Bernardine through his whole self, body and soul, into his new career. He crisscrossed Italy on foot, preaching for hours at a time, several times a day. We are told he preached on punishment for sin as well as reward for virtue but focusing in the end on the mercy of Jesus and the love of Mary. His special devotion was to the Holy Name of Jesus.

Some who were jealous denounced him to the pope by saying he preached superstition. Silenced for a short while, Bernardine was soon cleared and back to preaching.

Bernardine refused several cities that wanted him as bishop but he was unable to avoid being named vicar general of his order. All his energy during that period went to renewing the original spirit of the order.

Soon, however, Bernardine heard the call to go back to preaching which consumed his last days. As a matter of fact, even when it was clear he was dying, he preached fifty consecutive days. He died in 1444 when he was almost 64 years old.

SOURCE : http://www.ucatholic.com/saints/saint-bernardine-of-siena/


Le Pérugin. Le Miracle de l'enfant mort-né, 1473

Bernardino of Siena, OFM Priest (RM)

Born in Massa Marittima (near Siena), Tuscany, Italy, on September 8, 1380; died in Aquila, Italy, May 20, 1444; canonized in 1450 by Pope Nicholas V.


"Jesus, crucified for me, with the nails of Your love fasten my whole self to You."--Berardino of Siena.

Son of the governor of Massa Marittima (near Siena), Bernardino degli Albizzeschi was placed in the care of an aunt when he was seven after the death of his parents in 1386. She provided him with his religious education. At 17, he joined a confraternity of Our Lady.

When the plague came to Siena in 1400, Bernardino offered to take charge of the hospital, recalling the gentleness and virtue his pious aunt had taught him. He also gathered round him twelve young friends who were willing to risk their lives to share this duty. For the four months of the pestilence, they worked tirelessly. Bernardino also organized an effective service of welfare and relief. Although several of his companions died, he did not contract the disease (one source said he did and came close to death).

He then cared for his blind, bedridden 90-year-old aunt, Bartholomea. After her death, he set himself to prayer and fasting to learn God's will for his future. While praying before his crucifix, he was impressed and reproached, like Saint Francis, by the suffering of Our Lord, who seemed to step down from the Cross and appear before him in His nakedness and sorrow. He could not resist the pleading in his Savior's eyes and surrendered all he had.

He took the habit on September 8, 1402, entered the Franciscan monastery of strict observance at Colombaio outside Siena in 1403. He was ordained on September 8, 1404--the Feast of the Birth of Our Lady and his birthday as well. Later he moved to Fiesole near Florence.

Over the next 12 years he preached only occasionally, preferring to live as a solitary. He went to Milan and on September 8, 1417, he preached his first sermon as a missioner. Despite being a stranger to the city, his eloquence and fiery sermons soon attracted huge congregations. The people made him promise to return the following year before they allowed him to leave to preach in Lombardy. He covered nearly all of Italy, usually on foot, preaching for two and three hours at a time, and often giving several speeches in a day-- generally at a pulpit in the open air because the crowds were so huge.

He attacked usury relentlessly, and denounced the party strife of the Italian cities as a fundamental evil of the age and place. On the other hand, he did not rise above such contemporary characteristics as hostility toward Jews and belief in widespread witchcraft.

He would castigate vice and then hold up a placard with the sign of the name of Jesus, "IHS," written on it, urging the congregation to turn to the one symbolized by those letters. People became so enthused that they even had IHS painted on houses. Throughout Italy people spoke of the wonderful benefits of his preaching. Once a man whose livelihood came from making playing cards complained that Bernardino had so successfully fought against gambling that the trade was ruined. Bernardino gave him a new, even more profitable trade, printing cards with the sign IHS.

Some of his preaching was criticized by the University of Bologna, but this controversy, which troubled him for eight years, ended in his favor. His detractors accused him of encouraging superstitious practices. They said that he carried on his person a piece of paper on which the Name of Jesus was written, that when he pleaded with sinners he showed it to them and it gave out rays of light, and denounced him to Pope Martin V. He was cleared of the charges after an examination of his doctrine and conduct. It may well be that the light symbolized that which flowed from his devoted spirit and the grace and passion of his eager witness.

Pope Martin V offered him the bishopric in Siena in 1427, but he declined, as he later declined the bishoprics of Ferrara and Urbino. In 1430, the "Apostle of the Holy Name" became vicar general of the Friars of the Strict Observance. He reformed the rule to involve the friars more as preachers and teachers and many convents passed easily from the Conventual to the Observant rule. In fact, the number of friars under the rule grew from 300 to over 4,000. The original Observants had shunned scholarship (as riches), but Bernardino insisted upon instruction in theology and canon law as part of the regular curriculum.

From 1430, he wrote theological works in both Latin and Italian. These covered the principal doctrinal and moral elements of Christianity, as well as treatises on the Blessed Mother. He established theological schools at Perugia and Monteripido.

In 1442, he obtained permission from the pope to resign his office, although Bernardino assisted at the Council of Florence. His health was failing, but Bernardino was insistent upon a final missionary journey. He began it at Massa Marittima in 1444 where he preached on fifty consecutive days. Although dying, he continued his apostolic travels, setting out for Naples and preaching as he went. He got as far as Aquila in the Abruzzi, where he died.

His tomb at Aquila was said to be the site of miracles. He was the most prominent missioner of the 15th century, and he was canonized within six years of his death.

It has been said that the 'People's Preacher' inaugurated in Italy 'one of those rare periods in history when the rule of Jesus made visible progress in society.' He was called the "People's Preacher" because his sermons were filled with lively and realistic depictions of everything from a bachelor's household to women's fashions (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Farmer, Gill, Origo, White).

Bernardino is represented in art as an old, toothless Franciscan holding up a sign bearing the legend "IHS," from which rays shine forth. Medieval and Renaissance painters depicted him as small and emaciated, with deep burning eyes. He may also be seen (1) preaching before the Palazzo Communale in Siena with IHS held before him; (2) with a banner bearing IHS and a star over his head; (3) with three mounds surmounted by a banner with a cross (possibly these mounds may really represent the three miters he refused-- Siena, Urbino, and Ferrara); with a trumpet as a sign of his power as a preacher, or (5) in a painting by El Greco, bearded and habited, or four mitres at his feet, IHS on his staff (Farmer, Gill, Roeder, White).


Bernardino was made the patron saint of advertisers and advertising in 1956 by Pope Pius XII because of his ability to illuminate the Catholic faith to audiences by the use of simple language and telling symbols. He is invoked against hoarseness, which he suffered in his early days of preaching, and is believed to have been cured by a prayer to the Blessed Virgin (White). He is also the patron of wool-weavers and invoked against diseases of the chest and lungs (Roeder).
SOURCE : http://www.saintpatrickdc.org/ss/0520.shtml




May 20

St. Bernardin of Sienna, Confessor


ST. BERNARDIN, a true disciple of St. Francis, and an admirable preacher of the word of God, inflamed with the most ardent love of our divine Redeemer, was made by God an instrument to kindle the same holy fire in innumerable souls, and to inspire them with his spirit of humility and meekness. He was born at Massa in 1380, of the noble family of Albizeschi, in the republic of Sienna. He lost his mother when he was but three years old, and his father, who was chief magistrate of Massa, before he was seven. The care of his education devolved on a virtuous aunt called Diana, who infused into his tender soul ardent sentiments of piety towards God, and a tender devotion to his blessed mother. This aunt always loved him as if he had been her own son; and indeed his towardly disposition won him exceedingly the affections of all who ever had the care of him. He was modest, humble, and devout; and took great delight in prayer, visiting churches, serving at mass, and hearing sermons, which he would repeat again to his companions with an admirable memory, and gracefulness of action. In that tender age he had a great compassion for the poor. One day it happened that his aunt sent away a poor person from the door without an alms, because there was but one loaf in the house for the dinner of the family. Bernardin was much troubled to see the beggar go away unrelieved, and said to his aunt, “For God’s sake, let us give something to this poor man; otherwise I will neither dine nor sup this day. I had rather the poor should have a dinner than myself.” This wonderfully comforted his good aunt, who never ceased to incite him to all virtues, and, according to his strength, to accustom himself by degrees to fasting. Young as he was, he fasted every Saturday in honour of the Blessed Virgin; which pious custom he always continued. At eleven years of age he was called to Sienna by his uncles, and put to school under the ablest masters, who all admired the quickness of his parts, and the solidity of his judgment; but much more his docility, modesty, and virtue. If he chanced to hear any word the least unbecoming, he, by blushing, testified what confusion it gave him, and how much it wounded his very heart; and though he was otherwise most condescending, civil, and respectful to all, he could never bear with patience any indecent discourse. For a single word of that kind he so severely reprimanded a man of quality, that it was to him a warning during the remainder of his life to govern his tongue; and many years after, hearing Bernardin preach, he was so moved, that he seemed to be drowned in tears. The modesty of the virtuous youth was a check to the most impudent, and kept them in awe in his presence: in whatever company, if the conversation was too free, it was dropped when he appeared, and the very loosest rakes would say, “Hush! here comes Bernardin:” as the presence of Cato among the Romans restrained the lewd libertinism of a festival. 1 Nor did the saint behave on these occasions in such a manner as might render virtue the subject of ridicule, but with a surprising dignity. Nevertheless, an impure monster had once the insolence to make an attempt upon his virginal purity, and to solicit him to sin. But the saint, not content to testify his scorn and indignation, excited the whole troop of his little innocent play-fellows against the lewd villain, who pelted him with clods and stones, and made him ashamed any more to show his face. Bernardin was exceedingly comely and beautiful; but his known virtue secured him from any further assaults; and he never ceased to beg of God the grace of purity, particularly through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. When he had completed the course of his philosophy, he applied himself to the study of civil and canon law, and afterwards to that of the holy scriptures with such ardour, that he could never from that time relish any other study.

At seventeen years of age he enrolled himself in the confraternity of our Lady in the hospital of Scala to serve the sick. Here he began with new vigour to tame his flesh by severe fasts, watchings, hair-shirts, disciplines, and other austerities; but he applied himself more to the interior mortification of his will, which rendered him always most mild, sweet, patient, and affable to every one. He had served this hospital four years, when, in 1400, a dreadful pestilence which had already made great havoc in several other parts of Italy, and was increased by the concourse of pilgrims to the jubilee, reached Sienna; insomuch, that twelve, eighteen, or twenty persons died every day in this hospital, and among others were carried off almost all the priests, apothecaries, and servants who belonged to the place. Bernardin, therefore, persuaded twelve young men to bear him company in the service of the hospital, beseeching heaven for their speedy recompense; and they all strove which should come up the nearest to Bernardin in cheerfulness, humility, and assiduity in performing the most abject offices, and in exerting themselves in the service of the sick. The saint was intrusted in a manner with the whole care of the hospital, which, in the space of four months, he put into excellent order. It is hardly credible how many lives he saved, or with what charity and pains he night and day attended the patients, and furnished them with every comfort and succour which it was in his power to afford them. God preserved him from the contagion during these four months, at the end of which the pestilence ceased. He then returned home, but sick of a fever which he had contracted by his fatigues, which obliged him to keep his bed four months; during which time he edified the city, no less by his resignation and patience, than he had done by his charity. He was scarcely well recovered when he returned to the like works of charity, and with incredible patience attended a dying aunt, for fourteen months, named Bartholomæa, a woman of great piety, who was blind and bed-ridden. When God had called her to himself, Bernardin retired to a house at some distance from the city, making the walls of his garden the bounds of his inclosure. Here, in solitude, fasting, and prayer, he endeavoured to learn the will of God in the choice of a state of life. After some time he took the habit of the Order of St. Francis, among the fathers of the Strict Observance at Colombiere, a solitary convent a few miles from Sienna; and after the year of his novitiate, made his profession on the 8th of September, 1404. Having been born on the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, out of devotion to her, he chose the same day for the principal actions of his life: on it he took the religious habit, made his vows, said his first mass, and preached his first sermon. His fervour increased daily; and whilst some sought interpretations to mollify the severity of the rule, he was always studying to add to it greater austerities and heroic practices of virtue, the more perfectly to crucify in himself the old man. He was pleased with insults and humiliations, and whatever could be agreeable to the most ardent spirit of humility and self-denial. When he went through the streets in a threadbare short habit, the boys sometimes cast stones at him, with injurious language; in which contempt the saint found a singular joy and satisfaction. He showed the same sentiments when a near kinsman with bitter invectives reproached him, as disgracing his friends by the mean and contemptible manner of life he had embraced. These and all other virtues he learned in the living book of Christ crucified, which he studied night and day, often prostrate before a crucifix, from which he seemed one day to hear our Lord speak thus to him: “My son, behold me hanging upon a cross: if thou lovest me, or art desirous to imitate me, be thou also fastened naked to thy cross, and follow me; thus thou wilt assuredly find me.” In the same school he learned an insatiable zeal for the salvation of souls, redeemed by the blood of Christ. Having in retirement prepared himself for the office of preaching, his superiors ordered him to employ his talent that way for the benefit of others. He laboured under a natural impediment from weakness and hoarseness of voice; the removal of which obstacle he obtained by addressing himself to his glorious patroness, the mother of God. For fourteen years his labours were confined to his own country; but when the reputation of his virtue was spread abroad, he shone as a bright light to the whole church.

In vain doth the minister of God confide in the weak resources of mere human eloquence and pomp of words, by which he rather debases the dignity and majesty of the sacred oracles: whilst he pleases the ear and gains the applause of his audience, he leaves their hearts dry. The great apostle of Andalusia, the venerable holy John D’Avila, being desired to lay down some rules for the art of preaching, answered, he knew no other art than the most ardent love of God and zeal for his honour. He used to say to young clergymen, that one word spoken by a man of prayer would do more good and have a more powerful influence than all the most eloquent discourses; for it is only the language of the heart that speaks to the heart; and a life of mortification and prayer not only draws down the dew of the divine benediction upon the labours of the preacher, but it replenishes his soul with a sincere spirit of humility, compunction, and all virtues, and with an experimental knowledge and feeling sense of the great truths which he delivers. Zealous ministers who are filled with the Spirit of God, are a great blessing to the people among whom they labour; and this reflection unfolds the secret how saints possess so extraordinary a grace of converting souls to God. This was the excellent talent of Bernardin. They who heard him preach felt their souls to melt in sentiments of compunction, divine love, humility, and the contempt of the world, and returned home new men, striking their breasts, and bathed in tears. The word of God was in his mouth as a fire, and as a hammer breaking the hardest rocks. Another eminent preacher of his Order being asked the reason why his sermons did not produce equal fruit with those of Bernardin, answered, “Brother Bernardin is a fiery glowing coal. What is only warm hath not the power of kindling a fire in others like the burning coal.” The saint himself being consulted what was the way to preach with profit, gave this rule: “In all your actions seek in the first place the kingdom of God and his glory; direct all you do purely to his honour; persevere in brotherly charity, and practise first all that you desire to teach others. By this means the Holy Ghost will be your master, and will give you such wisdom and such a tongue that no adversary will be able to stand against you.” This he faithfully practised, and from his assiduous communication with God he imbibed that eminent spirit of virtue which gave him the most powerful ascendant over the hearts of men. Among the great truths of religion, he principally laboured to inculcate a sincere contempt of the vanity of the world, and an ardent love of our blessed Redeemer. He wished he could cry out with a trumpet which could be heard over the whole earth, that he might sound aloud in the ears of all men that great oracle of the Holy Ghost: O ye sons of men, how long will you be dull of heart? Why do you love vanity, and seek after lying? 2 O children, how long will you love childishness? 3 And he never ceased with the thunder of his voice to raise men from grovelling always on this earth, to the important consideration of the things which belong to their eternal welfare, and to the love of Jesus Christ. So much was he affected with the mysteries of the incarnation and sufferings of the Son of God, that he could never pronounce his sacred name without appearing in transports of love and adoration. Often at the end of his sermon he showed to the people the sacred name of Jesus curiously cut on a board with gold letters, inviting them to adore Christ with him on their knees, reciting a pious doxology. This was misconstrued by some, who also cavilled at certain expressions which he had used. Upon their complaints, Pope Martin V. summoned him to appear, and commanded him silence for a while. The humble saint meekly acquiesced without making any reply. But his holiness, after a full examination of his doctrine and conduct, dismissed him with his benediction, high commendations, and ample leave to preach everywhere. The same pope pressed him to accept the bishopric of Sienna in 1427; but he declined that dignity, alleging for his excuse, that if he were confined to one church he could no longer employ himself in the service of so many souls. In 1431 he no less resolutely refused that of Ferrara, which Eugenius III. earnestly desired to confer upon him, and again that of Urbino, in 1435. When the saint preached first at Milan, the haughty duke Philip Mary Visconti 4 took offence at certain things which he had said in his sermons, and threatened him with death if he should presume to speak any more on such subjects; but the saint declared, that no greater happiness could befal him than to die for the truth. The duke, to try him, sent him a present of one hundred ducats of gold in a golden bowl. The saint excused himself from receiving the money to two different messengers; but being compelled by a third to accept it, he took the messenger with him to the prisons, and laid it all out in his presence in releasing debtors. This disinterestedness turned the duke’s aversion into the greatest veneration for the saint ever after.

St. Bernardin preached several times through the greater part of Italy; some say also in Spain; but this seems uncertain. Nothing was more spoken of over all Italy than the wonderful fruit of his sermons, miraculous conversions, restitution of ill-gotten goods, reparations of injuries, and heroic examples of virtue. The factions of the Guelfs and Ghibellins then horribly divided many cities of Italy, and gave frequent employment to the saint. Hearing once of a great dissension at Perugia, he hastened thither from the marquisate of Ancona, and entering the city thus addressed the inhabitants: “God, who is highly offended at this division among you, hath sent me, as his angel, to proclaim peace to men of good will upon earth.” After preaching four sermons to persuade them to a mutual forgiveness of all injuries, and a general amnesty, at the end of the last he bade all those who forgave each other and desired to live in peace, to pass to the right hand. All present did so except one young nobleman, who staid on the left, muttering something between his teeth. The saint, after a severe reproach, foretold him his sudden death, which happened soon after, and without the benefit of the sacraments. In 1433 he accompanied the emperor Sigismund to his coronation at Rome; after which he retired for a short time to Sienna, where he put the finishing hand to his works. 5

Amidst the greatest applause and honours, the most sincere humility always appeared in his words and actions; and he ever studied to conceal the talents with which God had enriched him. How great his esteem of humility was he testified when a brother of his Order asked him the means by which he might speedily arrive at perfection. The saint, instead of giving him any answer by words, threw himself at his feet; showing at the same time his own great affection to humility, and also that this virtue raises the soul to divine love and every grace. God, however, was pleased to honour his servant before men. Besides several predictions and miraculous cures of many lepers and other sick persons, the saint is recorded to have raised four dead persons to life. He was appointed vicar-general of his Order of the Strict Observance in Italy, in 1438, in which he settled a rigorous reformation; but, after five years, obtained a discharge from his office; and in his old age continued the function of preaching through Romania, Ferrara, and Lombardy. He returned to Sienna in 1444, preached a most pathetic farewell sermon at Massa on concord and unity, and being taken ill of a malignant fever on the road, still preached as usual till he arrived at Aquila in Abruzzo. There, being confined to his bed, he prepared himself for his passage out of this life by the rites of the church. When he was speechless he made a sign to be taken off his bed and laid upon the floor; where, lifting up his eyes to heaven, he surrendered his pure soul into the hands of his Creator on the 20th of May, 1444, after a life of sixty-three years, eight months, and thirteen days. His tomb was rendered illustrious by many miracles, and he was canonized by Nicholas V. in 1450. His body is kept in a crystal shrine, enclosed in one of silver, in the church of his Order at Aquila.

Note 1. Martial, epigr. [back]

Note 2. Psalm iv. 3. [back]

Note 3. Prov. i. 22. [back]

Note 4. In him was extinct the family of Visconti, descended by a younger branch from one of the Lombard kings. They were first viscounts or deputy-governors, and afterwards dukes of Milan; which sovereignty, upon the death of Philip Mary Visconti, in 1447, devolved upon Francis Sforza, his general, to whom he had given his natural daughter in marriage. Whence ensued the bloody wars between the Emperors, French, and Milanese. [back]

Note 5. They were printed at Paris, in 1636, in 5 tomes, fol. They treat chiefly on prayer, divine love, the life of Christ, and the last things. P. John de la Haye has published a new complete edition of this saint’s works, printed at Venice, in 1745, in 5 vols. fol. [back]

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73).  Volume V: May. The Lives of the Saints.  1866

SOURCE : http://www.bartleby.com/210/5/201.html

San Bernardino da Siena Sacerdote


- Memoria Facoltativa

Massa Marittima, Grosseto, 8 settembre - L'Aquila, 20 maggio 1444

Canonizzato nel 1450, cioè a soli sei anni dalla morte, era nato nel 1380 a Massa Marittima, dalla nobile famiglia senese degli Albizzeschi. Rimasto orfano dei genitori in giovane età fu allevato a Siena da due zie. Frequentò lo Studio senese fino a ventidue anni, quando vestì l'abito francescano. In seno all'ordine divenne uno dei principali propugnatori della riforma dei francescani osservanti. Banditore della devozione al santo nome di Gesù, ne faceva incidere il monogramma «YHS» su tavolette di legno, che dava a baciare al pubblico al termine delle prediche. Stenografati con un metodo di sua invenzione da un discepolo, i discorsi in volgare di Bernardino sono giunte fino a noi. Aveva parole durissime per quanti «rinnegano Iddio per un capo d'aglio» e per «le belve dalle zanne lunghe che rodono le ossa del povero». Anche dopo la sua morte, avvenuta alla città dell'Aquila, nel 1444, Bernardino continuò la sua opera di pacificazione. Era infatti giunto morente in questa città e non poté tenervi il corso di prediche che si era prefisso. Persistendo le lotte tra le opposte fazioni, il suo corpo dentro la bara cominciò a versare sangue e il flusso si arrestò soltanto quando i cittadini dell'Aquila si rappacificarono.

Patronato: Pubblicitari, Preghiere

Etimologia: Bernardino = ardito come orso, dal tedesco

Emblema: IHS (monogramma di Cristo)

Martirologio Romano: San Bernardino da Siena, sacerdote dell’Ordine dei Minori, che per i paesi e le città d’Italia evangelizzò le folle con la parola e con l’esempio e diffuse la devozione al santissimo nome di Gesù, esercitando instancabilmente il ministero della predicazione con grande frutto per le anime fino alla morte avvenuta all’Aquila in Abruzzo.

Per ascoltare le prediche efficacissime di questo frate francescano di fine Medioevo, si radunavano folle di fedeli nelle piazze delle città, non potendoli contenere le chiese; e mancando allora mezzi tecnici di amplificazione della voce, venivano issati i palchi da cui parlava, studiando con banderuole la direzione del vento, per poterli così posizionare in modo favorevole all’ascolto dalle folle attente e silenziose.

Origini e formazione

San Bernardino nacque l’8 settembre 1380 a Massa Marittima (Grosseto) da Albertollo degli Albizzeschi e da Raniera degli Avveduti; il padre nobile senese era governatore della città fortificata posta sulle colline della Maremma.

A sei anni divenne orfano dei genitori, per cui crebbe allevato da parenti, prima dalla zia materna che lo tenne con sé fino agli undici anni, poi a Siena a casa dello zio paterno, ma fino all’età adulta furono soprattutto le donne della famiglia ad educarlo, come la cugina Tobia terziaria francescana e la zia Bartolomea terziaria domenicana.

Ricevette un’ottima educazione cristiana ma senza bigottismo, crebbe sano, con un carattere schietto e deciso, amante della libertà ma altrettanto conscio della propria responsabilità.

Studiò grammatica, retorica e lettura di Dante, dal 1396 al 1399 si applicò allo studio della Giurisprudenza nella Università di Siena, dove conseguì il dottorato in filosofia e diritto; non era propenso alla vita religiosa, tanto che alle letture bibliche preferiva la poesia profana.

Verso i 18 anni, pur seguitando a vivere come i coetanei, entrò nella Confraternita dei Disciplinati di Santa Maria della Scala, una compagnia di giovani flagellanti, che teneva riunioni a mezzanotte nei sotterranei del grande ospedale posto di fronte al celebre Duomo di Siena.

Aveva 20 anni quando Siena nel 1400 fu colpita dalla peste; e anche molti medici e infermieri dell’Ospedale di Santa Maria della Scala, morirono contagiati, per cui il priore chiese pubblicamente aiuto.

Bernardino insieme ai compagni della Confraternita si offrì volontario, la sua opera nell’assistenza agli appestati durò per quattro mesi, fino all’inizio dell’inverno, quando la pestilenza cominciò a scemare.

Trascorsero poi altri quattro mesi, tra la vita e la morte, essendosi anch’egli contagiato; guarito assisté poi per un anno la zia Bartolomea diventata cieca e sorda.

La scelta Francescana

In quel periodo cominciò a pensare seriamente di scegliere per la sua vita un Ordine religioso, colpito anche dall’ispirata parola di s. Vincenzo Ferrer, domenicano, incontrato ad Alessandria.

Alla fine scelse di entrare nell’Ordine Francescano e liberatosi di quanto possedeva, l’8 settembre 1402 entrò come novizio nel Convento di San Francesco a Siena; per completare il noviziato, fu mandato sulle pendici meridionali del Monte Amiata, al convento sopra Seggiano, un villaggio di poche capanne intorno ad una chiesetta, detto il Colombaio.

Il convento apparteneva alla Regola dell’Osservanza, sorta in seno al francescanesimo 33 anni prima, osservando appunto assoluta povertà e austerità, prescritte dal fondatore san Francesco; e con la loro moderazione, che li distingueva dagli Spirituali più combattivi nei decenni precedenti, gli Osservanti si opponevano al rilassamento dei Conventuali, con discrezione e senza eccessi.

Frate Bernardino visse al Colombaio per tre anni, facendo la professione religiosa nel 1403 e diventando sacerdote nel 1404, celebrò la prima Messa e tenne la prima predica nella vicina Seggiano e come gli altri frati del piccolo convento, prese a girare scalzo per la questua nei dintorni.
Nel 1405 fu nominato predicatore dal Vicario dell’Ordine e tornò a Siena.

La sua formazione, studi, prime predicazioni

Dopo un po’, da Siena andò con qualche compagno nel piccolo romitorio di Sant’Onofrio sul colle della Capriola di fronte alla città; da tempo questo conventino era abitato da frati dell’Osservanza, qui fra’ Bernardino volle costruire un nuovo convento più grande, esso apparteneva all’Ospedale della Scala ed egli riuscì ad ottenerlo in dono, ma giacché i Frati Minori non potevano accettare donazioni, si impegnò a versare in cambio una libbra di cera all’anno.

Aveva circa 25 anni e restò alla Capriola per 12 anni, dedicandosi allo studio dei grandi dottori e teologi specie francescani; raccogliendo e studiando materiale ascetico, mistico e teologico.

In quel periodo, fu a contatto col mondo contadino ed artigiano delle cittadine dei dintorni, imparando a predicare per farsi comprendere da loro, con espressioni, immagini vivaci e aneddoti che colpissero l’attenzione di quella gente semplice, a cui affibbiava soprannomi nelle loro attività e stile popolano di vivere, per farli divertire; così la massaia disordinata era “madama Arrufola” e la giovane che ‘balestrava’ con occhiate languide i giovani dalla sua finestra, era “monna Finestraiola”.
Per una malattia alle corde vocali che per qualche anno lo colpì, rendendo la sua voce molto fioca, Bernardino da Siena, stava per chiedere di essere esonerato dalla predicazione.
Ma inaspettatamente un giorno la voce ritornò non soltanto limpida, ma anche musicale e penetrante, ricca di modulazioni.
Sul colle della Capriola tornava spesso dopo i suoi lunghi viaggi di predicatore, per ritrovare li spirito di meditazione e per scrivere i “Sermoni latini”; formò molti discepoli fra i quali san Giacomo della Marca, san Giovanni da Capestrano, i beati Matteo da Agrigento, Michele Cercano, Bernardino da Feltre e Bernardino da l’Aquila.

Il grande predicatore popolare

Nel 1417 padre Bernardino da Siena fu nominato Vicario della provincia di Toscana e si trasferì a Fiesole, dando un forte impulso alla riforma in atto nell’Ordine Francescano.

Contemporaneamente iniziò la sua straordinaria predicazione per le città italiane, dove si verificava un grande afflusso di fedeli che faceva riempire le piazze; tutta la cittadinanza partecipava con le autorità in testa, e i fedeli affluivano anche dai paesi vicini per ascoltarlo.

Dal 1417 iniziò a Genova la sua prodigiosa predicazione apostolica, allargandola dopo i primi strepitosi successi, a tutta l’Italia del Nord e del Centro.

A Milano espose per la prima volta alla venerazione dei fedeli, la tavoletta con il trigramma; da Venezia a Belluno, a Ferrara, girando sempre a piedi, e per tutta la sua Toscana, dove ritornava spesso, predicò incessantemente; nel 1427 tenne nella sua Siena un ciclo di sermoni che ci sono pervenuti grazie alla fedele trascrizione di un ascoltatore, che li annotava a modo suo con velocità, senza perdere nemmeno una parola.

Da queste trascrizioni, si conosce il motivo dello straordinario successo che otteneva Bernardino; sceglieva argomenti che potevano interessare i fedeli di una città ed evitava le formulazioni astruse o troppo elaborate, tipiche dei predicatori scolastici dell’epoca. Per lui il “dire chiaro e breve” non andava disgiunto dal “dire bello”, e per farsi comprendere usava racconti, parabole, aneddoti; canzonando superstizioni, mode, vizi. 

Sapeva comprendere le debolezze umane, ma era intransigente con gli usurai, considerati da lui le creature più abbiette della terra. Le conversioni spesso clamorose, le riconciliazioni ai Sacramenti di peccatori incalliti, erano così numerosi, che spesso i sacerdoti erano insufficienti per le confessioni e per distribuire l’Eucaristia.

Quando le leggi che reggevano un Comune, una Signoria, una Repubblica, erano ingiuste e osservarle significava continuare l’ingiustizia, Bernardino da Siena, in questi casi dichiarava sciolti dal giuramento i pubblici ufficiali e invitava la città a darsi nuove leggi ispirate al vangelo; e le città facevano a gara per ascoltarlo e ne accettavano le direttive.

Il trigramma del Nome di Gesù

Affinché la sua predicazione non fosse dimenticata facilmente, Bernardino con profondo intuito psicologico, la riassumeva nella devozione al Nome di Gesù e per questo inventò un simbolo dai colori vivaci che veniva posto in tutti i locali pubblici e privati, sostituendo blasoni e stemmi delle famiglie e delle varie corporazioni spesso in lotta tra loro.

Il trigramma del nome di Gesù, divenne un emblema celebre e diffuso in ogni luogo, sulla facciata del Palazzo Pubblico di Siena campeggia enorme e solenne, opera dell’orafo senese Tuccio di Sano e di suo figlio Pietro, ma lo si ritrova in ogni posto dove Bernardino e i suoi discepoli abbiano predicato o soggiornato.

Qualche volta il trigramma figurava sugli stendardi che precedevano Bernardino, quando arrivava in una nuova città per predicare e sulle tavolette di legno che il santo francescano poggiava sull’altare, dove celebrava la Messa prima dell’attesa omelia, e con la tavoletta al termine benediceva i fedeli.

Il trigramma fu disegnato da Bernardino stesso, per questo è considerato patrono dei pubblicitari; il simbolo consiste in un sole raggiante in campo azzurro, sopra vi sono le lettere IHS che sono le prime tre del nome Gesù in greco (ma si sono date anche altre spiegazioni, come l’abbreviazione di “In Hoc Signo (vinces)”, il motto costantiniano, oppure di “Iesus Hominum Salvator”.

Ad ogni elemento del simbolo, Bernardino applicò un significato; il sole centrale è chiara allusione a Cristo che dà la vita come fa il sole, e suggerisce l’idea dell’irradiarsi della Carità.

Il calore del sole è diffuso dai raggi, ed ecco allora i dodici raggi serpeggianti cioè i dodici Apostoli e poi da otto raggi diretti che rappresentano le beatitudini; la fascia che circonda il sole rappresenta la felicità dei beati che non ha termine, il celeste dello sfondo è simbolo della fede; l’oro dell’amore.

Bernardino allungò anche l’asta sinistra dell’H, tagliandola in alto per farne una croce, in alcuni casi la croce è poggiata sulla linea mediana dell’H. 

Il significato mistico dei raggi serpeggianti era espresso in una litania: 1° rifugio dei penitenti; 2° vessillo dei combattenti; 3° rimedio degli infermi; 4° conforto dei sofferenti; 5° onore dei credenti; 6° gioia dei predicanti; 7° merito degli operanti; 8° aiuto dei deficienti; 9° sospiro dei meditanti; 10° suffragio degli oranti; 11° gusto dei contemplanti; 12° gloria dei trionfanti.

Tutto il simbolo è circondato da una cerchia esterna con le parole in latino tratte dalla Lettera ai Filippesi di San Paolo: “Nel nome di Gesù ogni ginocchio si pieghi, sia degli esseri celesti, che dei terrestri e degli inferi”.

Il trigramma bernardiniano ebbe un gran successo, diffondendosi in tutta Europa, anche s. Giovanna d’Arco volle ricamarlo sul suo stendardo e più tardi fu adottato anche dai Gesuiti.

Diceva s. Bernardino: “Questa è mia intenzione, di rinnovare e chiarificare il nome di Gesù, come fu nella primitiva Chiesa”, spiegando che, mentre la croce evocava la Passione di Cristo, il suo nome rammentava ogni aspetto della sua vita, la povertà del presepio, la modesta bottega di falegname, la penitenza nel deserto, i miracoli della carità divina, la sofferenza sul Calvario, il trionfo della Resurrezione e dell’Ascensione.

In effetti ribadiva la devozione già presente in san Paolo e durante il Medioevo in alcuni Dottori della Chiesa e in s. Francesco d’Assisi, inoltre tale devozione era praticata in tutto il Senese, pochi decenni prima dai Gesuati, congregazione religiosa fondata nel 1360 dal senese beato Giovanni Colombini, dedita all’assistenza degli infermi e così detti per il loro ripetere frequente del nome di Gesù. 

Quindi la novità di s. Bernardino fu di offrire come oggetto di devozione le iniziali del nome di Gesù, attorniato da efficaci simbolismi, secondo il gusto dell’epoca, amante di stemmi, armi, simboli.

L’uso del trigramma, comunque gli procurò accuse di eresie e idolatria, specie dagli Agostiniani e Domenicani, e Bernardino da Siena subì ben tre processi, nel 1426, 1431, e 1438, dove il francescano poté dimostrare la sua limpida ortodossia, venendo ogni volta assolto con il favore speciale di papa Eugenio IV, che lo definì “il più illustre predicatore e il più irreprensibile maestro, fra tutti quelli che al presente evangelizzano i popoli in Italia e fuori”.

Riformatore dell’Ordine Francescano

Bernardino, che fin dal 1421 era Vicario dei Frati Osservanti di Toscana e Umbria, nel 1438 venne nominato dal Ministro Generale dell’Ordine Francescano, Vicario Generale di tutti i conventi dell’Osservanza in Italia.

Nella sua opera di riforma, portò il numero dei conventi da 20 a 200; proibì ai frati analfabeti o poco istruiti, di confessare e assolvere i penitenti; istituì nel convento di Monteripido presso Perugia, corsi di teologia scolastica e di diritto canonico; s’impegnò a fare rinascere lo spirito della Regola di s. Francesco, adattandola alle esigenze dei nuovi tempi.

Rifiutò per tre volte di essere vescovo di diocesi, che gli furono offerte.

Gli ultimi anni, la morte

Nel 1442, sentendosi oltremodo stanco, soffriva di renella, infiammazione ai reni, emorroidi e dissenteria, rassegnò le sue dimissioni dalla carica, che aveva accettato per spirito di servizio verso l’Ordine.

Nel fisico sembrava più vecchio dei suoi 62 anni, aveva perso tutti i denti, tranne uno e quindi le gote gli si erano incavate, ma quell’aspetto emaciato l’aveva già a 46 anni, quando posò per un quadro dal vivo, oggi conservato alla Pinacoteca di Siena.

Libero da responsabilità riprese a predicare, nonostante il cattivo stato di salute; i senesi gli chiesero di recarsi a Milano per rinsaldare l’alleanza con il duca Filippo Maria Visconti contro i fiorentini; da lì proseguì poi per il Veneto, predicando a Vicenza, Verona, Padova, Venezia, scendendo poi a Bologna e Firenze, nella natia Massa Marittima predicò nel 1444 per 40 giorni.

Ritornato a Siena si trattenne per poco tempo, perché voleva ancora compiere una missione di predicazione nel Regno di Napoli, dove non si era mai recato, con l’intenzione di predicare anche lungo il percorso; accompagnato da alcuni frati senesi, toccò il Trasimeno, Perugia, Assisi, Foligno, Spoleto, Rieti, ma già in prossimità de L’Aquila, il suo fisico cedette allo sforzo e il 20 maggio 1444 fu portato in lettiga al convento di San Francesco, dentro la città, dove morì quel giorno stesso a 64 anni, posto sulla nuda terra come s. Francesco, dietro sua richiesta.

Dopo morto, il suo corpo esposto alla venerazione degli aquilani, grondò di sangue prodigiosamente e a tale fenomeno i rissosi abitanti in lotta fra loro, ritrovarono la via della pace.

I frati che l’accompagnavano, volevano riportare la salma a Siena, ma gli aquilani, accorsi in massa lo impedirono, concedendo solo gli indumenti indossati dal frate.

Nelle città dov’era vissuto, furono costruiti celebri oratori, chiese, mausolei, come quello di S. Bernardino nella omonima chiesa dell’Aquila, dove riposa.

Sei anni dopo la morte, il 24 maggio 1450, festa di Pentecoste, papa Niccolò V lo proclamò santo nella Basilica di S. Pietro a Roma. San Bernardino è compatrono di Siena, della nativa Massa Marittima, di Perugia e dell’Aquila. 

Una città in California porta il suo nome. È invocato contro le emorragie, la raucedine, le malattie polmonari. La sua festa si celebra il 20 maggio.

Autore:
Antonio Borrelli