In Bologna, Bernardine put a halt to games of chance. One worker's exclusive occupation was painting playing cards. He had found this work sufficient to provide for his family needs, but now he was threatened with falling into need as a result of the reforms introduced by the Saint in his city. He came to speak of his worries to the very one who was causing them. Bernardine welcomed him with kindness and asked him if he really did not know any other trade.
"None, Father," answered the worker.
"Well then, will you try one that I will suggest to you? You will make enough for yourself and your family, I promise you."
"Gladly," said he, "I will do it at once."
Taking a compass, the Saint drew a circle on a board, then sketched the adorable Name of Jesus in the middle of it, drawing bright rays of light all around it. He showed the sketch to the worker and said to him:
"There, my friend, make similar paintings based on this model, and you will make an income great enough to meet your needs." The painter followed his advice, and soon people were thronging to his workshop; within a few short days, he had been largely compensated for abandoning his former industry.
St. Bernardine of Siena
Especially known for his devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus, Bernardine devised a symbol—IHS, the first three letters of the name of Jesus in Greek, in Gothic letters on a blazing sun. This was to displace the superstitious symbols of the day, as well as the insignia of factions (for example, Guelphs and Ghibellines). The devotion spread, and the symbol began to appear in churches, homes and public buildings. Opposition arose from those who thought it a dangerous innovation. Three attempts were made to have the pope take action against him, but Bernardine’s holiness, orthodoxy and intelligence were evidence of his faithfulness.
General of a branch of the Franciscan Order, the Friars of the Strict Observance, he strongly emphasized scholarship and further study of theology and canon law. When he started there were 300 friars in the community; when he died there were 4,000. He returned to preaching the last two years of his life, dying while traveling.
Castelspina, Alessandria, Italy
San Bernardino, California, diocese of
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Trevignano Romano, Italy
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