The name of Jesus – St. Bernardine

St. Bernardine

St. Bernardine

St. Bernardine of Siena, celebrated today in the Catholic calendar of saints,  is mostly known as the Franciscan who promoted devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus.

He was a famous preacher who could project his voice so well that thousands could hear him, yet, according to one report, he had a ‘defective utterance” when younger,

A few days ago I was speaking with the Dulce Nombre parish council about ministries and was about to state that if someone stutters that person should not be one of those who preach at the Celebrations of the Word. But I stopped, because I know one layman who normally stutters but when he preaches or prays in church, he is remarkably fluent.

God works in strange ways – and we need to be open to God’s use of people who stutter to share with us the Good News.

But then, don’t we all stutter. Don’t we all fall short of speaking the Truth of God.

Maybe it’s for that reason that St. Bernardine promoted devotion to the Holy Name. Supposedly, he was impressed by a dying woman who could only pray the name of Jesus. The Jesus prayer, so important in Eastern Christian spirituality, has many forms, one of which is merely the repetition of the name of “Jesus.”

St. Bernardine, as part of this devotion, displayed a tablet with the first three letters in Greek of the name of Jesus (Ἰησοῦς) in capitals IHS.

When I was in Italy this past February I saw this at least three times –

on the façade of the Jesuit church of the Gesù in Rome,

among the remains of a monastery in Ravenna near the church of San Vitale,

and on the façade of Santa Croce church in Florence.

 The last is ironic. Santa Croce is a church of the Conventual Franciscan friars. St. Bernardine was the first vicar-general of the Observant Friars who broke with the Conventuals, promoting a stricter observance of the Rule of St. Francis.

But then, who I am to deny anyone the blessing of honoring the name of Jesus.


The statue of St. Bernardine is from a side chapel in San Apollinare Nuova in Ravenna.


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