Saint Bernardine of Siena: The Apostle of Italy

On May 20, the Church celebrates the feast of Saint Bernardino (Bernardine) of Siena (1380-1444), a Franciscan friar and celebrated preacher called "The Apostle of Italy.”

Preparation for career in public life

Bernardino was born on September 8, 1380, in the Tuscan town of Massa Marittima, where his father, a member of the noble Albizzeschi family of Siena, was governor. Orphaned by age 6, he was raised by a devout aunt. As a youth he received an excellent education in liberal arts and law to prepare him for a career in public life.

Serving at a hospital during a plague

In 1397, while still a student, he joined the lay confraternity attached to the largest hospital in Siena. When, in 1400, a severe plague descended upon the city, Bernardine, with some companions, took charge of the hospital for several months. He then cared for his aunt in her last illness.

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