Bernardino Realino was born into a noble family of Capri, Italy, in 1530. After an excellent Christian education received at home from his mother, he went on to study medicine and law at the University of Bologna, receiving his doctorate in law in 1556. A brilliant young man, Bernardino was soon on the road to success: at the tender age of 26, he was elected mayor as well as judge of the town of Felizzano. From there he became head tax collector in Alessandria, then elected mayor of Cassine, followed by his election as mayor of Castellone. Word of his learning, dedication, and legal brilliance spread throughout Italy, and the marquis of Naples named him superintendent of all his fiefs.
While in Naples, Bernardino, now 34 years old, met some priests of the relatively new Society of Jesus and made an eight-day retreat with them. During this retreat he felt a strong call to the religious life and asked the Jesuits for admittance into their Society. He was accepted and ordained a priest in 1567.
From that time on Bernardino devoted his life to the care of the poor and sick, to teaching the Faith to young people, and to ministering to galley slaves. He was appointed novice master while in Naples and remained in that city for ten years until he was sent to the south of Italy to the town of Lecci where he had been requested to found a college. He spent the rest of his life in Lecci where he was hailed as a saint during his lifetime, not only because of his powerful example as a preacher, confessor, and teacher, but also because of the many miracles he performed by the power of God. One of the miracles attributed to Bernardino was in regard to a small pitcher of wine which did not give out until everyone present had had their fill.
Six years before his death at the age of 86, Bernardino fell and sustained two wounds which never healed. During his final illness, blood was taken from one of the leg wounds and placed in glass vials. After his death, the blood appeared to boil and foam and retained its liquid state until well into the mid-nineteenth century.
So devoted were the people of Lecci to their saint that the magistrates of the town visited Bernardino on his deathbed and formally requested that he take the city under his patronage after his death. Unable to speak, Bernardino nodded his head, dying soon afterwards with the names of Jesus and Mary on his lips. He was canonized by Pope Pius XII in 1947 and is to this day considered the Patron of Lecci.
1. In his late twenties, Bernardino Realino was already a mover and shaker of his time with everything going for him in the way of success. He gave it all up, however, the moment he heard the call from God to become a priest. Here we have an example of a rich young man who this time made the right decision, who gave it all up to follow Jesus, finding his treasure in heaven rather than in the world.
2. St. Bernardino Realino dedicated much of his life to teaching young people the Faith. Remembering that young people are the future of the Church, let us pray to St. Bernardino that all those who teach the young will do so under the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit and so lead our youth to a true understanding and love of their Catholic faith.
Other Saints We Remember Today
- Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to St. Elizabeth
- Saints Processus and Matinian (67), Martyrs
- St. Peter (304), Exorcist, Martyr
image: Portrait and prayer card of St. Bernardino Realino, 17th century from Rijksmuseum, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons