Bernardine had always been pious, even as a youth. Born to a wealthy family of Tuscany in 1380, Bernardine was orphaned at the young age of six, and raised by his aunt. He was known to practice many spiritual disciplines at his tender age, and had a great heart for the poor.
After studying civil and canon law, Bernardine then joined the Confraternity of Our Lady, attached to the Hospital of Santa Maria Della Scala, where he ministered to the sick. When the plague struck Siena, Bernardine was tireless in his care for the sick and dying. During this time, he never contracted the plague himself, despite his nearness to its victims.
Due to his exertions, however, Bernardine contracted a fever, which forced him to retire to a quieter life. He then spent much of his time attending to his aging aunt until her death. After the death of his aunt, Bernardine spent several months fasting and praying for God’s direction in his life. Then came the answer; Bernardine was to be a friar.
In 1403, he joined the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor and was ordained the following year. He strictly observed the Franciscan way of life, and as with everything else in his life, he was extremely devout.
However, Bernardine was affiliated with a weak, hoarse voice, which precluded him from being much of a preacher; nevertheless, he had a strong desire to preach, and prayed for twelve years that his voice would be healed. The Lord granted his prayer, giving him a strong voice and commanding presence.
Bernardine then began wandering Italy on foot, preaching boldly in the streets, never staying in one place very long. He preached directly to the people in ways they could understand, with conviction and clarity. His powerful preaching, and devout way of life attracted many followers to Christ, but it also attracted many detractors who tried to ruin his reputation, even going so far as to accuse him of superstition before the Pope himself. But Bernardine was acquitted of all charges.
When it was clear that he would die soon, this did in way discourage Bernardine. Instead of waiting for the end to come, he took one last journey, preaching nonstop for fifty days, riding on a donkey when he was too weak to walk. Bernardino died in 1444, leaving behind a legacy of faithfulness to Jesus Christ.
May we all be as faithful as he was.