Saint of the Day – 19 December – St Berardo Valeara of Teramo OSB (c 1050-1122) – Benedictine Monk, Bishop of Teramo, Evangelist, Apostle of Charity and Peace – also known as Bernard Paleara, Bernard Pagliara, Bernhard, Berard, Bernardo – born in c 1050 in the castle of Pagliara near Castelli, Isola del Gran Sasso, Teramo, Abruzzo, Italy and died on 19 December 1122 of natural causes.
Saint Berardo was born into the noble family da Pagliara, whose castle bore their name near the town of Isola del Gran Sasso in the Abruzzo region of Italy. Important information concerning his life is found in the ancient church records from this area as well as the chronicles of his successor, the Bishop Sassone. Saint Berardo entered the monastery in Montecassino as a young man and was later associated with the Abbey of San Giovanni in Venere. He became well known for his good works and upon the death of the Bishop Uberto, Berardo was asked to become a pastor in the territory of Teramo. He took on this role for seven years beginning in 1116 and focused his efforts on helping the poor and making peace amongst the warring factions of the local citizenry.
Saint Berardo died in 1123. He was buried in what today is known as Saint Anne’s chapel in the ancient Teramo Cathedral of Santa Maria Aprutiensis (now Sant’Anna dei Pompetti). This is one of the few locations which were not destroyed by the siege and burning of Teramo carried out by the Norman commander, Roberto di Loretello.
Around 1174, upon the initiative of the Bishop Attone, the remains of Saint Berardo were transferred to the newly completed cathedral of Teramo, first to a crypt where they remained for 600 years and finally, in 1776, to a chapel built by the people of Teramo in his honour during the leadership of the Bishop Pirelli.
Several miracles have been attributed to him. A 16th-century bust and a 17th-century likeness of his arm giving a blessing, both in silver, can be found in Teramo Cathedral. A stone statue of Saint Berardo which formerly covered his crypt, is now located at the summit of a chapel dedicated to his honour. Within the cathedral’s sacristy is a 17th-century altarpiece by the Polish painter Sebastiano Majeski bearing the likeness of the saint entitled The Miracle of Saint Berardo. Also located in the cathedral is a painting by Giuseppe Bonolis, depicting The Virgin Mary and Saint Berardo liberating the city of Teramo from the siege of the Duke of Atri and numerous other works depicting the life of Saint Berardo. An outstanding and varied collection of engravings and prints related to Saint Berardo was chronicled and organised by Raffaele Aurini in 1973. It is a comprehensive biographical and iconographical source of information related to the life of this saint.
Over the years, the municipal authorities of Teramo have practised the yearly custom of lighting a large candle in honour of Saint Berardo.