Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Saint Bernard of Corleone

Saint Bernard of Corleone was born on the island of Sicily in the year 1605. His father was a shoemaker, and Bernard learned this trade. Upon the death of his father, he took up fencing, becoming skilled in the art. While not particularly devout in his youth, he would defend old people and other helpless and defenseless persons against violence. He frequently made visits to a local crucifix, and provided that a lamp be kept burning before it. He was a devotee of Saint Frances of Assisi. Bernard was challenged to a duel, in which he killed his opponent. To escape from the man's avengers, he sought refuge amongst the Capuchin Franciscans. Here he had a chance to think over his past life. God rewarded his prayer by letting him have a real sorrow for his past life and a desire to do penance. The brotherhood in the Capuchins attracted him and he was received as a novice. True to his ideal, Bernard put aside his former life and moved by the Holy Spirit set about the Novitiate to make himself as meek as a lamb among his brothers. God showed him the value of penance. To reform himself the brother began by taking only a little water and food. He drank only water that was bitter or hot and his scant rest was taken on a board. His habit and cell were the poorest in the house. He worked long hours and the sick were his special care. He kept regular fasts and it is said that it is doubtful if he ever ate a full meal in his 37 years that he was in religious life. He frequently ate only bread and water. Never would he wear a new habit or allow new furnishings in his cell. As a consequence he suffered greatly from rheumatism. In time Bernard became gentle and sweet with all at home and out. He had the highest regard for his brothers and his superiors, he only spoke to them on bended knee. Prayer and fasting were his consolation and the Lord rewarded him abundantly. This holy brother became the pride and joy of all the friars. His virtue was a lesson to all. Poverty, simplicity, chastity, silence and love of recollection are lessons that Bernard gives us together with the value of penance. Bernard was beatified in 1768 and his feast is celebrated on January 19th.

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