The good that man does lives long after him. St. Bernardine would be embarrassed by all the fuss and praise that is showered on him; one of which is the awesome title of Foremost Missionary of the Fifteenth Century. If that is not enough, he is acknowledged as the greatest preacher of his day. For centuries, up to and including this time, he is venerated as one of the most popular and well-known Saints, especially in the city where he was born – Siena. Here it is; over five hundred years have passed and he is still remembered! If you go to the Hermitage, as it is often called or Emero delle Carcero of St. Francis, in the quiet of Monte Subasio, you will find the smallest church in the world, nestled in the caverns of the mountains of Subasio. It is believed St. Bernardine founded this tiny church. And if you stand there and listen, with your heart, you will be treated to the still alive preaching of the Good News of Jesus Christ, by his faithful friar, St. Bernardine.
There are many portraits of St. Bernardine, but the greatest is that which can be found in his sermons. They were perpetuated by a faithful follower who meticulously wrote down every word uttered by St. Bernardine in his Lenten Sermons in 1427, on wax tablets. He then transposed them onto parchments. Whereas the original copies are no longer with us, there are several copies from which, over the centuries, copies have been made. They are quite understandable, as St. Bernardine spoke in the vernacular, the native language of the people. There are forty-five sermons which have been passed down to us, each lasting between three or four hours. These Sermons and their length paint a vivid picture of the times and the culture in which St. Bernardine lived. They were not delivered in language the average man could not understand, nor were they too below the learned who hung unto his every word.
A master with words, he was able to touch the hearts of his listeners. He always spoke in the local dialect of the region. And that was no mean task, as at the time there were as many dialects as they were provinces at least twenty-seven. He painted pictures with his words. He was not past employing mimicry to bring across a point. He was adept at injecting a humorous story to lighten up a sermon, when he judged he might be getting too somber. But he never compromised the truth of his message. He never backed away from their need to repent and avail themselves of God’s mercy by going to confession.
He had an ongoing love story with the Blessed Mother. His treatises on Our Lady and St. Joseph can still be found in the Breviary our priests and religious recite each day. Much that we know of the Saint comes down to us from very reliable sources, as those who were contemporaries of his immediately began writing about our Saint and his sermons.
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