Saint of the Day – 27 November – Blessed Bernardine of Fossa OFM (1420-1503) Priest and Friar of the Observant Friars Minor of St Francis, Missionary in Italy and a renowned Preacher, noted Historian, Lawyer, Ascetical Writer, rising within the Order to important positions. Born in 1420 in Fossa, Aquila, Italy as Giovanni Amici and died on 27 November 1503 in the Franciscan Convent in L’Aquila, Italy of natural causes, aged 83. Also known as – Bernardine d’Amici, Bernardine of Aquila, Bernardine of Aquilanus, Fra Bernardino of Fossa, Giovanni Amici. Additional Memorial – 7 November (Franciscans). Patronages – the City and Diocese of L’Aquila.
The Roman Martyrology states: “At L’Aquila, blessed Bernardino da Fossa (Giovanni) Amici, Priest of the Order of Minors, who preached the Catholic Faith in many Provinces of Italy.“
Giovanni belonged to the ancient and noble family of the Amici and sometimes bears the name of Aquilanus on account of his long residence and death in the Town of Aquila.
He was of very lively intelligence and excelled in his studies. He graduated in Canon and Civil Law in Perugia and in 1445, at 21, he entered the Friars Minor of the Observance and completed his novitiate at Gubbio. On 13 March 1446 he made his solemn profession in the Convent of Stroncone taking the name of Bernardine and receiving the Habit from St James of the Marches who was then preaching a course of Lenten sermons at Perugiato. As was the custom of many religious Orders at the time, the place of birth was added, so Giovanni became Fra ‘Bernardino da Fossa.
Bernardine was endowed with outstanding organisational, spiritual and guiding skills and was, therefore, entrusted with various positions in the Franciscan Convents of Gubbio, Stroncone and others, also in Umbria. From there he passed into the Abruzzi, residing especially in his own City of L’Aquila.
He was a zealous Priest and talented Preacher in numerous Umbrian Towns. He was elected Provincial Father of the Friars Minor Observants for the Abruzzi four times , holding the office from 1454 to 1460 and then from 1472 to 1475 : between 1464 and 1467 he was instead Superior of Bosnia and Dalmatia, a Province just established by Pope Pius II and in 1468 he was elected Procurator of the Order at the Holy See .
He was twice elected bishop of Aquila (first in 1472 , on the death of Cardinal Amico Agnifili and then in 1491 , as the successor of Giovanbattista Gaglioffi) but he declined the election both times, from a spirit of humility.
In 1475 he abandoned all office and retired to the Convent of San Giuliano dell’Aquila. On 16 January 1495 , he managed to stop the troops of Charles VIII and persuaded them not to cross the L’ Aquila territory, sparing the population the serious consequences of a military occupation.
Bernardine was also a prolific writer – his writings include several sermons and short ascetical works and focus on themes of history and theology. His nephew, Antonio Amici, who was also his Biographer, published some of Bernardine’s works in 1572 , today of great value due to the extreme rarity of the preserved copies. Bernardine was the Author of the first life of his Patron, St Bernardino of Siena.
Bernardine died in the Convent of L’Aquila on 27 November 1503 and was always given a cult of blessed, both in Italy and throughout the Franciscan Order.
The cult was later confirmed by the Beatification of Pope Leo XII on 26 March 1828.