Saint of the Day – 19 April – Blessed Bernard of Sithiu (Died 1182) Layman Penitent, Pilgrim, Hermit Died on 19 April 1182 in the Monastery of Saint-Bertin, Thérouanne region, France of natural causes. Patronages – of sinners, convicts, prisoners, penitents, pilgrims. Also known as – Bernard of Maguellone, Bernard the Penitent, Bernard the Pilgrim.
The Roman Martyrology: “At the Monastery of Saint-Bertin in the territory of France in Thérouanne, lies the tomb of Blessed Bernard, penitent, who, eager to atone for the sins of his youth with an austere penitence, voluntarily chose exile and, barefooted, wearing rough garments, was a tireless pilgrim to the holy places.”
Like St Nicholas of Trani, St Benedict Joseph Labre, St Rocco and several others this Saint lived as an itinerant pilgrim to the Shrines of Europe.
The few reports received about the life of Blessed Bernard of Sithiu are those handed down in the writings of John of Sithiu, Abbot in 1187, a source of extraordinary interest. There is also the Office composed in his honour and in 1465, an inventory of his remains are cited, “relics of St Bernard, Penitent. “
From such documents and testimonies, we discover that Bernard, following a murder, was ordered to make a pilgrimage of atonement.
After wandering far and wide for a long time, he finally settled near the former town of Sithiu, where, for four years he lived in poverty and deprivation. He prayed and fasted incessantly and endured the elements, as well as many other trials and sufferings. He became a very saintly man in love with God and self-renunciation. Finally dying on 19 April 1182.
The fame for holiness which was gained in life, was later confirmed after death, by many miracles occurring at his tomb.