THE promoter of the Holy Name

I was doing a little reading on the Holy Name of Jesus — teachings about It, devotion to It, etc. — and discovered that, though many saints loved and promoted the Holy Name (St. Ignatius of Loyola is a notable example, having chosen the monogram of Jesus’ name — IHS — for the symbol of his Order, which he named after Jesus as well [the Jesuits]), there was one saint who rose head and shoulders above them all as the one most known for his devotion to and promotion of the Holy Name: St. Bernardine of Siena.

This might not have meant that much to me, except a little known fact about my alma mater (especially little known by those who didn’t attend, but even also by some [many?] alumni) is that, though its current name is Siena College, its original name was St. Bernardine of Siena College. (I can’t tell you how many people think it’s named for St. Catherine of Siena, even though it’s a Franciscan college and St. Catherine was a Dominican.)

St. Bernardine of Siena College, Loudonville, N. Y.
St. Bernardine of Siena College, Loudonville, N.Y. by Boston Public Library (2011) via Flickr, CC BY 2.0.

How cool to discover that my school’s patron was a superfan of the Holy Name??

So this isn’t really a name spotlight, because Bernardine is kind of … out of fashion? Even among Catholics who go bananas for heavy duty saint names. This is really more of a Holy Name of Jesus post, a note on one of the many awesome things I discovered about it. Which St. Bernardine, being a saint and a lover of the Name, would probably prefer — having Jesus be the focus. Like how St. John Paul the Great would put the crucifix in front of him, so when people looked at him they had to see Jesus first.

Luxembourg-5151 - Pope John Paul II
Luxembourg-5151-Pope John Paul II by Dennis Jarvis (2013) via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0.

Says the Catholic Encyclopedia at New Advent:

“… the greatest promoters of this devotion were St. Bernardine of Siena and St. John Capistran. They carried with them on their missions in the turbulent cities of Italy a copy of the monogram of the Holy Name, surrounded by rays, painted on a wooden tablet, where with they blessed the sick and wrought great miracles. At the close of their sermons they exhibited this emblem to the faithful and asked them to prostrate themselves, to adore the Redeemer of mankind. They recommended their hearers to have the monogram of Jesus placed over the gates of their cities and above the doors of their dwelling (cf. Seeberger, “Key to the Spiritual Treasures”, 1897, 102). Because the manner in which St. Bernardine preached this devotion was new, he was accused by his enemies, and brought before the tribunal of Pope Martin V. But St. John Capistran defended his master so successfully that the pope not only permitted the worship of the Holy Name, but also assisted at a procession in which the holy monogram was carried. The tablet used by St. Bernardine is venerated at Santa Maria in Ara Coeli at Rome.”

I love too that St. Bernardine’s partner in crime good was St. John Capistran — one of the friars that I particularly loved during my time at Siena was a Fr. Capistran.

St. Alphonsus wrote about St. Bernardine and the Name of Jesus:

If we read the life of St. Bernardine of Siena, we shall see how many sinners the Saint converted, how many abuses he put an end to, and how many cities he sanctified, by trying when he preached to induce the people to invoke the name of Jesus.”

So powerful! We could all use a little of that, right?? St. Bernardine, pray for us! Protect us from all evil, in Jesus’ Name.

IHS and St. Bernardine of Siena
IHS and St. Bernardine of Siena by John Donaghy (2013) via Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

8 thoughts on “THE promoter of the Holy Name

  1. Oooh. I am kind of a sucker for the clunky. And I didn’t know anything about St. Bernardine–thanks for enlightening me! It’s an interesting name because the first part sounds so masculine and the ending more feminine. Unusual.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! In fact, when I was telling my hubs about St. Bernardine, he was like, “I’ve never heard of her!” I think the Italian Bernardino comes across as much more masculine.


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