About St Bernadine of Siena Image

St Bernardine of Siena was a fifteenth century Italian Franciscan friar and preacher renowned for his eloquent preaching and his efforts to reform the clergy and the faithful. He made the IHS symbol with a blazing sun behind it to promote dedication to Jesus Christ and combat the superstitious and factional symbols of his day.

Read the full St Bernadine of Siena novena on the novena page. You can also learn more about novenas here.

What is the story of Saint Bernadine?

St Bernadine was born Bernardino dei Benincasa in Siena, Italy, in the year 1380.

When he was twenty years old, he devoted himself to caring for the many victims of the plague that was ravaging through his area. He did not contract the plague, but did fall ill to exhaustion from his untiring efforts.

He chose to join the Franciscan Order in his early twenties, despite opposition from his family, who were of the nobility.

He received a thorough education, studying theology and canon law, which equipped him for his future role as a preacher and reformer.

He soon gained recognition for his powerful sermons, which focused on themes of repentance, love for Christ, and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

He traveled extensively throughout Italy, preaching to large crowds in city squares, marketplaces, and churches. His sermons were instrumental in reviving faith and inspiring moral reform among the people.

Bernardine’s preaching style was characterized by its simplicity, clarity, and fervor. He often spoke in the local vernacular rather than Latin, making his messages accessible to a wide audience.

One of Bernardine’s most enduring legacies is his promotion of the Holy Name of Jesus. He emphasized the power and significance of Jesus’ Name as a source of grace, salvation, and protection.

Bernardine encouraged devotion to the Holy Name and promoted the use of the monogram IHS (derived from the Greek letters for Jesus) as a symbol of reverence.

St Bernardine was deeply concerned about the moral and spiritual welfare of society. He advocated for reforms within the Church, particularly in addressing the issue of clergy corruption and moral laxity.

He also worked to alleviate the suffering of the poor and oppressed, establishing charitable organizations and advocating for social justice.

During a time of political and social upheaval in Italy, Bernardine played a crucial role in promoting peace and reconciliation. He mediated disputes between warring factions and sought to bring about reconciliation through his preaching and personal example.

His efforts helped to mitigate conflicts and restore harmony in many communities.

Saint Bernardine’s influence continued to be felt long after his death. He was revered as a saint by the people of Siena and throughout Italy, and his tomb in the Church of San Francesco in Siena became a site of pilgrimage.

He was canonized as a saint by Pope Nicholas V in 1450, just six years after his death.

Today, Saint Bernardine of Siena is venerated as a patron saint of advertisers, public relations personnel, and those seeking peace and reconciliation.