Wednesday, May 20, 2009
BERNARDINE OF SIENA
"If you speak of God, speak with love. If you speak of yourself, speak with love. Take care that there is nothing in you but love, love, love."-St. Bernadine of Siena
Born in 1380 in a town near Siena, Italy, Bernardine was the son of an Italian governor. His parents died when he was seven. His relatives loved him as if he were their own and gave him a good education. Tall and handsome, he was a boy who was so much fun that his friends loved to be with him (teachers just love such students). Yet they knew better than to use any foul language when he was around. He would not put up with it. Twice when a man tried to lead him into sin, Bernardine punched him and sent him on his way.
Bernardine had a special love for the Blessed Virgin. She was the one who kept him pure. Even when he was a teenager, Bernardine would pray to her as a child talks with his mother. Bernardine was tender hearted and felt great pity for the poor. Once, his aunt had no extra food to give a beggar. The boy cried, "I'd rather go without food myself than leave that poor man with none." When a plague struck the area in 1400, Bernardine and his friends volunteered their services at the hospital. For six weeks they helped the sick and dying day and night until the plague had ended.
1402 Bernardine joined the Franciscan order. He was twenty-two. Evenutally he was ordained a priest. After several years, he was assigned to go to towns and cities to preach and reminded people about the love of Jesus. Urban life was not easy and vice, corruption and bad habits were ruining both young and old.
"How can I save these people by myself?" Bernardine asked the Lord in prayer. "With what weapons can I fight the devil?" And God answered, "My Holy Name will be enough for you." So Bernardine spread devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. He used this Name a great many times in every sermon. He asked people to print Jesus' Name over the gates of their cities and over their doorways-everywhere. Through devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus and devotion to the Blessed Mother, Bernardine brought thousands of people from all over Italy back to the Church. St. Bernardine spent forty-two years of his life as a Franciscan. He died at the age of sixty-four in Aquila, Italy on was May 20, 1444. He was declared a saint just six years later, in 1450, by Pope Nicholas V.
To this day the name of Jesus or 'IHS', the symbol of that name, abounds in Italy. Considering how often that name is taken and used without thought, without awareness of its significance, perhaps it is time to re-devote ourselves to the Holy Name before which every knee must bend. There could be no finer tribute to Bernardine than to follow in his footsteps.