Prayers, Quips and Quotes: St. Bernadine of Siena, Feast Day May 20

St. Bernadine Public Domain Image
St. Bernadine
Public Domain Image


The feast day of St. Bernadine of Siena is celebrated on May 20.

St. Bernadine was born in 1380 in a Sianese town. His father was the governor. He was orphaned at the age of six and raised by a pious aunt. When he was 20 years old the plague killed twenty people in one day in his town. He and ten companions offered to run the hospital. They nursed the patients for 4 months. Although he did not come down with the plague, he did become sick with fever and exhaustion afterwards. He was sick for several months. He then spent over a year caring for his aunt at her death.

At the age of 22 he joined the Franciscan Order. He was ordained at the age of 24. Bernadine lived in solitude and prayer for almost 12 years before God sent him to preach. He traveled on foot from town to town all over Italy. He was known to attract crowds of 30,000. He preached about vice and virtue, punishment and glory which were themes advised by St. Francis of Assisi.

St. Bernadine had a special devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. He devised a symbol (IHS) which were the first three letters of the name of Jesus in Greek in Gothic letters on a blazing sun. He wanted the symbol to replace superstition. The devotion spread and began appearing in churches, homes and on buildings.

In 1427, Bernadine was called to Rome to stand trial for heresy for promoting the devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. He was found innocent of heresy. After the trial St. Bernadine preached for 80 consecutive days. He was offered the office of bishop in the cities of Siena, Ferrar, and Urbino. He declined the office of bishop.

St. Bernadine preached for over 30 years, traveling all over Italy. While serving as Franciscan Vicar General the order grew from 140 friars to over 4000 friars before he died while traveling. Miracles were attributed to St. Bernadine after his death. He was canonized six years later in 1450 by Pope Nicholas V.

God must be the king of our minds, the Lord of our minds, so that the thought of Him never leaves us, and we speak, think, and act always either for Him or guided by love of Him.  Let our souls be thus a house of prayer and not a den of thieves.


Bl. Charles de Foucauld; Feast day December 1

May is the Month of Our Lady.

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