San Bernardino church in Siena - Photo ©LigaDue
Symbols, signs and relics
San Bernardino, Siena

Canonised in 1450, just 6 years after his death, by Pope Nicholas V. San Bernardino was born in 1380 in Massa Marittima into the noble Sienese family of the Albizzeschi. Orphaned at a young age, he was raised by two aunts in Siena, where he studied until the age of 22, when he joined the Franciscan missionary. Within the order he became one of the principal advocates of the reform of the observing Franciscans. He encouraged devotion to the sacred name of Jesus, having his monogram IHS engraved on a wooden tablet, which he would give to the public to kiss at the end of the sermon. It is actually believed that thanks to him, the monogram of Christ IHS entered into common iconographic use and became recognised. Stenographed with a method of his own invention, discourse in the vernacular of Bernardino has continued even today. He strongly reprimanded those who “renounced God for a head of garlic” and for “The beasts with long tusks who gnaw at the bones of the poor”. Even after his death in Aquila in 1444, Bernardino continued his work of peace-making. He in fact arrived into the city dying and could not hold the course of sermons that he had planned. When the fight between the opposing factions of the city persisted, his body in the coffin started to pour blood and the flow only stopped when the warring citizens decided to make peace. In 1450 he was proclaimed a saint and today is a patron saint of Siena, Massa Marritima, Perugia and Aquila.


Str. dell'Osservanza, 7, 53100 Siena SI, Italia
GPS coordinates
0577 332444 - 0577 280250

Symbol of the Saint: IHS (the monogram of Christ).
Feast of San Bernardino takes place on 20 maggio.

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