St. Bernardine of Siena was born in 1380 in a town near Siena, Italy. He was the son of an Italian governor. His parents died when he was seven. His relatives loved him as if he were their own. They also gave him a good education. He grew up to be a tall, handsome boy. He was so much fun that his friends loved to be with him. Yet they knew better than to use any dirty words 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.
The saint had a special love for the Blessed Mother. 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. He 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. They helped the sick and dying day and night for six weeks until the plague had ended.
Bernardine joined the Franciscan order when he was twenty-two. He became a priest. After several years, he was assigned to go to towns and cities to preach. The people needed to be reminded about the love of Jesus. In those days, bad habits were ruining both young and old people. “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, 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. It was May 20, 1444. He was declared a saint just six years later, in 1450, by Pope Nicholas V.
“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
O God, who gave the Priest Saint Bernardine of Siena a great love for the holy Name of Jesus, grant through his merits and prayers, that we may ever be set aflame with the spirit of your love. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.