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Saint of the Day – St. Bernardino Realino

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St. Bernardino Realino

Feast Day: July 2
Patronage: Lecce
Birth: 1 December 1530 Carpi, Modena, Duchy of Modena and Reggio
Death: 2 July 1616 (aged 85) Lecce, Kingdom of Naples
Beatified: 12 January 1896, Saint Peter’s Basilica, Kingdom of Italy by Pope Leo XIII
Canonized: 22 June 1947, Saint Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City by Pope Pius XII

Life: Saint Bernardino Realino (1 December 1530 – 2 July 1616) was an Italian Roman Catholic priest and a professed member of the Jesuits. His entire career was devoted to the areas of Naples and Lecce. Realino pursued a career in law and served in several municipal capacities before feeling called to the Jesuit life and being ordained to the priesthood in Naples. He is often dubbed as the “Apostle of Lecce” for his commitment to the poor and for his preaching abilities.

Realino received beatification in 1896 from Pope Leo XIII while Pope Pius XII canonized him on 22 June 1947 as a saint of the Roman Catholic Church.

Bernardino Realino was born in Carpi on 1 December 1530 to nobles. His father was a collaborator of Cardinal Cristoforo Madruzzo.

He first attended school at Modena. Realino began his philosophical studies and medicine in Bologna but altered this midcourse to law; it was said that a woman he fell in love with persuaded him to do so on the assumption that Realino would be good at practicing law. He graduated with a doctorate in law – both civil and canon law – at the Bologna college in 1556. In 1556 he was appointed as the podestà of both the Cassine and Felizzano cities – he served as a judge in Felizzano – and then became the praetor of Castelleone; he also worked as the chief tax collector in Alessandria. Realino became noted in these places for his legal brilliance and learning. He entered the service of Francesco Ferdinando d’Avalos and moved to Naples to act as the superintendent of the fiefs of the Marquis.

In Naples a Jesuit preacher led a sermon that moved him and so he sought that priest out and had him hear his confession; the priest noted his inclination to the religious life and – with some other Jesuit priests – invited him in August 1564 to make a week-long spiritual retreat with them where he a solid call. He joined the Jesuits on 13 October 1564 (Alfonso Salmeron welcomed him into the order) and began his period of the novitiate. Realino was ordained to the priesthood on 24 May 1567; he made his vows in October 1566. Saint Francis Borgia appointed Realino as the novice master at Naples and was later sent to found a Jesuit house and college in Lecce in 1574. In 1583 he began a movement for diocesan priests to foster their virtues and to improve their moral theological education in order to act as better confessors and preachers.

In 1610 he suffered a fall and sustained two wounds that never would heal again. Not long before his death blood was taken from one leg wound and placed in glass vials; his health took a sharp decline in June 1616. Following his death in mid-1616 the relics of his blood which were kept were reported to have liquified. On his deathbed the Lecce magistrates asked him twice that he be the town’s patron when he entered Heaven. Realino could not speak but nodded in approval and died whispering: “Gesú … Maria”. The blood was liquefied until the mid-1800s though instances of it being liquefied again and again were reported. His tomb was opened in 1711 and some flesh tissue was incorrupt floating in dark red liquid that gave off a sweet perfume smell. It was found to be frothing and bubbling in 1713 and again in 1804 and 1852; this stopped in 1985.

Saint Roberto Bellarmino heard of his death and said: “I have never heard a complaint about Father Realino though I have been his provincial; even those who were ill-disposed to the society who seized every opportunity to speak unfavorably of it always made exception for Realino … Everyone knows that he is a saint”.

Info by wikipedia

– Christi Simus Non Nostri


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