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Saint of the Day—available on the iPhone!

Saint of the Day
Catholic saints are holy people and human people who lived extraordinary lives. Each saint the Church honors responded to God's invitation to use his or her unique gifts. God calls each one of us to be a saint. Click here to receive Saint of the Day in your email.

December 10
Servant of God Bernard of Quintavalle
(d. 1246?)


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Bernard was a wealthy man of Assisi, known and esteemed for his virtue and his wisdom. He was also the first follower of St. Francis, and would ultimately prove to be first in the order of sanctity.

Moved by the poverty and humility of Francis, Bernard invited him to stay at his house one night. There Bernard observed that Francis forsook a full night's sleep and instead spent the hours in prayer. By the following morning Bernard was convinced that Francis was indeed motivated by sincere love of God and, so, Bernard asked to become a disciple. Francis joyfully took him to the church where they attended Mass and then asked the priest to open the Bible three times.

Three passages appeared: "If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor" (Matthew 19:21). "Take nothing for the way" (Mark 6:8). "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me" (Matthew 16:24).

Francis said: "This will be the rule of life which we and all those who will join us shall follow." At that, Bernard sold all his possessions and divided the money among the poor.

Francis admired much in Bernard because he was older and because he was so holy. He sent his new follower and a companion to Florence and then to Bologna. In both places they were made sport of because of their poor clothing and the manner of their life. But Bernard was only upset when the townspeople of Bologna began to recognize his holiness. He asked Francis to bring him back.

Later Francis took Bernard with him as he headed out for Africa to preach to the Muslims. But along the way they met a poor sick man and Francis left the ever-joyful Bernard to care for the man until he himself would return.

Before his death Francis gave Bernard a special blessing and asked all of the brothers to have respect for this holy man.

Bernard is buried in Assisi near his holy founder in the Basilica of St. Francis.



Comment:

Opening the Bible at random doesn’t often give us practical advice on how to live. The pages might fall open to God commanding Abraham to sacrifice his only son or to St. Paul urging the Galatians not to submit to circumcision. Maybe it would help to have someone like Francis standing beside us. Better yet, we might focus on the Bible’s general thrust, which Jesus summed up as love for God and neighbor. That alone would send us on the path to sanctity Bernard traveled and fill us with the joy that always filled this follower of Francis.


Saint of the Day
Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.



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Angela Merici: Angela has the double distinction of founding the first teaching congregation of women in the Church and what is now called a “secular institute” of religious women. 
<p>As a young woman she became a member of the Third Order of St. Francis (now known as the Secular Franciscan Order), and lived a life of great austerity, wishing, like St. Francis, to own nothing, not even a bed. Early in life she was appalled at the ignorance among poorer children, whose parents could not or would not teach them the elements of religion. Angela’s charming manner and good looks complemented her natural qualities of leadership. Others joined her in giving regular instruction to the little girls of their neighborhood. </p><p>She was invited to live with a family in Brescia (where, she had been told in a vision, she would one day found a religious community). Her work continued and became well known. She became the center of a group of people with similar ideals. </p><p>She eagerly took the opportunity for a trip to the Holy Land. When they had gotten as far as Crete, she was struck with blindness. Her friends wanted to return home, but she insisted on going through with the pilgrimage, and visited the sacred shrines with as much devotion and enthusiasm as if she had her sight. On the way back, while praying before a crucifix, her sight was restored at the same place where it had been lost. </p><p>At 57, she organized a group of 12 girls to help her in catechetical work. Four years later the group had increased to 28. She formed them into the Company of St. Ursula (patroness of medieval universities and venerated as a leader of women) for the purpose of re-Christianizing family life through solid Christian education of future wives and mothers. The members continued to live at home, had no special habit and took no formal vows, though the early Rule prescribed the practice of virginity, poverty and obedience. The idea of a teaching congregation of women was new and took time to develop. The community thus existed as a “secular institute” until some years after Angela’s death.</p> American Catholic Blog I hear far more people discuss the presence of evil in their lives than they do the supreme power of grace. God is bigger than evil!

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