Basilica of Saint Bernardino da Siena: the Saint is guarded here.3 min read
This church was built, with the adjacent cloister, between 1454 and 1472 in honor of St Bernardino of Siena….
In the year 1400, a twenty-year-old man came to the door of the largest hospital in Siena, while a terrible plague was raging through the city. Every day died at least 20 people, and many of them were those who were needed to tend the ill. The young man had come only because he wanted to help the others, and for four months Bernardine and his companions worked day and night in and for the hospital. Only at the end of the plague did Bernardine himself fall ill of exhaustion. Immediately after he recovered he was back caring for the sick, but this time, he was responsible only for one person: an invalid aunt.
After his aunt died, Bernardine started to think about his life. He was the son of a noble family, and he had been orphaned at seven years old, and raised by an aunt.
He had come to Siena to study, and threw himself into prayer and fasting to discover what God wanted him to do, in 1403 he joined the Franciscans and in 1404 he was ordained a priest.
The Franciscans were known as missionary preachers, but Bernardine did very little preaching with because his voice was weak and hoarse. For twelve years he remained in the background, and at the end of that time, he went to Milan on a mission. When he got up to preach his voice was strong and commanding and his words so convincing that the crowd would not let him leave unless he promised to come back.
He crisscrossed Italy on foot, preaching for hours at a time, several times a day, and refused several cities that wanted him as bishop. As a matter of fact, even when it was clear he was dying, he preached fifty consecutive days, and in 1944 he was invited by the bishop Amico Agnifili in Abruzzo, to try to reconcile the two city factions. Although ill, he then went to L’Aquila where he died shortly after, on May 20th, when he was almost 64 years old.
The corpse of the saint is guarded inside the church in a mausoleum.
The basilica was, over the years damaged several times by earthquakes, and unfortunately in this area can happen. The last one, in April 2009, seriously ruined the apse and the campanile, and the basilica was reopened to the community only in May 2015.