St. Bernardine of Siena (1380-1444)
St. Bernadine, the greatest preacher of his time, is especially known for his devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. The Franciscan priest traveled throughout Italy on foot, spreading this devotion and promoting peace. He persuaded cities to remove their warring factions’ insignia from church and palace walls and replace them with a symbol he devised: the first three letters of the name of Jesus in Greek, IHS, on a blazing sun. While preaching, he would hold a plaque in front of him with this monogram on it, and afterwards expose it for veneration. In Bologna, a card painter, who had been ruined by Bernardine’s preaching against gambling, made a small fortune by producing these tablets, such was their great popularity. Some thought it a dangerous new devotion and repeatedly sought to have the pope silence Bernardine. He was forbidden to preach or exhibit his tablets until his conduct had been examined by a commission. Eventually Pope Martin V not only commended his teaching, but approved Bernardine's election as Bishop of Siena. Bernardine declined the appointment, and later the sees of Ferrara and Urbino as well. With his characteristic sense of humor he quipped that all of Italy was already his diocese.
His feast day is May 20.
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