A Golden Tongue for God
Born: Sept. 8, 1380
Died: May 20, 1444
Feast Day: May 20
Claim to fame: St. Bernardine of Siena, a Franciscan priest, is renowned for his eloquent preaching. Called a “second Paul” by Pope Pius II, Bernadine traveled throughout Italy on foot, preaching about God’s mercy and the love of Mary. He was dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus, a devotion that he popularized. In a time and place known for intrigue and vendettas, St. Bernardine preached peace and reconciliation. His charisma and his message attracted thousands. It’s not surprising that he is the patron saint of advertising, public relations and public speaking.
Little-known fact: Bernardine wasn’t always a golden-tongued preacher. When he was first ordained, his voice was hoarse and weak. After 12 years of prayer, his voice became strong and commanding, attracting crowds who hung on his every word.
What made him a saint: Bernardine put his entire self into everything he did—from caring for the sick during a plague in Siena to using his gifts as a preacher to bring healing and reconciliation to troubled communities. He refused to listen to gossip or shameful words, and showed his listeners how words could be used for holy purposes.
Lowest/scariest moment: While many people admired St. Bernardine, others were jealous of his success. They told the pope that he was preaching superstition and encouraging idolatry by promoting the use of placards inscribed with IHS (the abbreviation for the Holy Name of Jesus). The accusations were quickly proved groundless.
Best quote: “The name of Jesus is the glory of preachers, because the shining splendor of that name causes his word to be proclaimed and heard.”
How he died: St. Bernardine devoted his life to preaching. When he realized he was dying, he brought forth one last reserve of energy and preached for 50 straight days, traveling throughout Italy by donkey when he was too weak to walk. He died in 1444.Prayer: Saint Bernardine of Siena, words were very important to you. You used your gifts to share words of Jesus’ mercy and forgiveness and to praise his Holy Name. Pray for us that we may always choose to speak Jesus’ name with reverence and to use our words to promote peace and love rather than discord. Amen.
Published in the May/June 2023 issue of Catholic Life Magazine