Saint of the Day – 28 March – Blessed Venturino of Bergamo OP (1304-1346) – Dominican Preacher, Missionary Preacher of a Crusade, Writer.
He was born at Bergamo and received the habit of the Order of Friars Preachers at the convent of St Stephen, Bergamo, on 22 January 1319.
His rich spiritual life, given expression in his treatise De profectu spirituali, suggests the mystical idea of penance propagated by Saint Vincent Ferrer OP. He founded the Convent of nuns, St Mary’s in Bergamo. From 1328 to 1335 he soon distinguished himself as a brilliant preacher, attracting huge crowds throughout northern Italy.
In February 1335, he planned to make a penitential pilgrimage to Rome with about thirty thousand of his converts. His purpose was misunderstood and Pope Benedict XII, then residing at Avignon, thought that Venturino wished to make himself pope . He wrote letters to Giovanni Pagnotti, Bishop of Anagni, his spiritual vicar, to the Canons of St Peter’s and St John Lateran’s and to the Roman senators empowering them to stop the pilgrimage.
This complaint to the Dominican Master General resulted in an ordinance of the Chapter of London (1335) condemning such pilgrimages. The pope’s letters and commands, however, did not reach Venturino and he arrived in Rome on 21 March 1335. He was well received and preached in various churches. Twelve days later he left Rome, as the news of the Ordinance of the Dominican Master General and the Pope had reached him and the pilgrimage ended.
In June, he requested an audience with Benedict XII at Avignon, in order to explain the intentions of the pilgrimage but he was seized and cast into prison (1335–43), where he was kept for eight years! He was restored to favour by Pope Clement VI, who appointed him to preach a crusade against the Turks on 4 January 1344. His success was remarkable. He urged the pope to appoint Humbert II of Dauphiné, whose friend and spiritual adviser he had been, leader of the crusade, but Humbert proved incapable and the crusade came to nothing.
Venturino’s writings consist of sermons (now lost) and letters. He died at Smyrna and although called “Blessed” he was never formally Beatified.
P.S. The only image available is NOT Blessed Venturino but is, in fact, St Raymond of Pennafort.