July 2: The feast of *Saint Bernardino Realino*

Today, July 2, we celebrate the feast day of *Saint Bernardino Realino* (1530-1616), Jesuit priest, and apostle of God.

Bernardino was born in Modena, Italy, to a noble Italian family. Initially studying medicine and philosophy at university, Bernardino turned his focus to law.

He worked as an accomplished lawyer, as well as tax collector, mayor, and judge for many years, earning respect and considered successful by all standards. However, despite his worldly accomplishments, he found himself unfulfilled.

At the age of 32, Saint Bernardino was visited by a vision of Our Blessed Mother during an 8 day Jesuit retreat he participated in. Following the retreat, he entered the Jesuit order, requesting to be a brother, but his spiritual director encouraged him to become a priest. Ordained shortly thereafter, Bernardino became a model confessor, a sincere preacher, and a diligent teacher of the faith to the young.

Saint Bernardino continued his charity and shepherding of those that society had forgotten. He ministered to the poor, the slaves, the sick, and to prisoners.

He was appointed Master of Novices, and eventually was sent to Lecce in Apulia to set up a Jesuit house and college. There he remained for 42 years, providing spiritual direction to all who interacted with him.

Saint Bernardino continued to give himself generously to all who sought his counsel—among them princes and royalty– and the lines leading to his confessional grew ever longer. The “holy old man” served until the day of his death.

On his death-bed, the city mayor and magistrates formally requested Father Realino to be Lecce’s defender and protector in heaven. Unable to speak, he nodded assent, and uttered his final words: “O Madonna, mia santissima” (“O Lady, my most holy lady”).

Following his death, blood that had been collected from him while alive was observed to defy biological properties. For over a century, the blood remained liquefied, foaming and frothing on the anniversary of his death. Similarly, when his tomb was opened, the flesh of his body was found to be incorrupt, his blood frothing and emitting a sweet perfumed scent.

He was canonized by Pope Pius XII in 1947 and is to this day considered the Patron of Lecci.

*Saint Bernardino, pray for us.*

 

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