Wednesday, May 20, 2009

May 20 - Feast of Saint Bernardine Siena

Today is the feast of Saint Bernardine of Siena, a Franciscan friar who was born in 1380, joined the Order in 1402 after having studied theology and canon law in the Italian city of Siena. He gained a reputation as a preacher; some accounts report that at least 30,000 people came to hear him. He was a reformer in the Franciscan Order, being part of a reform group known as the Observants.

He is also known for promoting the devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. During his lifetime, the Italian cities and countryside were plagued with civil strife, with each community having its rival factions, ready to fight at the drop of a hat. It was like the fights between the street gangs of our present time, with each group having its own “colors,” or emblems. Bernardine began preaching on the Holy Name of Jesus:

“..that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 210-11)

Bernadine then had banners made with the emblem YHS (an abbreviation of the Greek word of Jesus) and had them distributed throughout the towns and cities, replacing the rival gangs emblems with the unifying emblem of Jesus.

Information from "Day to Day with Followers of Francis and Clare" by Pat McCloskey, OFM, St. Anthony Messenger Press

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