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St. Bernadine of Sienna

Bernardine (Bernardino) was born on September 8, 1380 in a small Italian town where his father was governor. When he was six, Bernardine’s parents died and he was raised by his devout aunts. He was educated in canon and civil law, but then retired to a life of prayer. In 1400, when pestilence attacked Siena, Bernardine with the help of ten companions took over the running of a hospital. He later joined the observant Franciscans and was ordained in 1404. In 1417, he began preaching throughout Italy; thousands flocked to hear and many reformed their lives. He promoted devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. While preaching he would often hold up a board with the sacred monogram IHS painted on it;in the Middle Ages the name Jesus was spelled Ihesus. Bernardine was also a tireless advocate of peace between the city-states and the various Italian political factions. In the course of this work he made enemies, who accused him of erroneous preaching and practices, but after a hearing before the pope, the saint was vindicated and continued his successful preaching ministry. He continued to travel across Italy despite illness and died May 20, 1444 while on the road to preach in Naples. In addition to his preaching, Bernardine founded or reformed hundreds of observant Franciscan convents. He was canonized in 1450. His feast day is May 20.

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