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THE WORKS OF ST. BERNARDINE HE fifth centenary of the passing of St. Bernardine of Siena (1380-1444) has aroused a new and lively interest among the North-American sons of St. Francis in the writings of this great Franciscan saint and preacher. That this interest may be kept alive and may lead to a more abundant use of the writings of St. Ber­ nardine in the future, we venture to present this brief study of the works of St. Bernardine. It is not intended to be an exhaustive treatise, though the writer has examined the Opera Omnia of St. Bernardine, edited by De la Haye and published at Paris in 1635 (a set belonging to the library of St. Anthony Friary, St. Louis, Mo.), as well as the edition of these works by Pietro Ridolfi (Rodulphius) published at Venice in 1591 (a set belonging to Holy Name College Library, Washington, D. G ), and numerous other books and articles on St. Bernardine. However, we hope that these notes — they are no more than that — will be of some help to those who intend to read and use the sermons and treatises of St. Bernardine, who has rightly been called "the people’s preacher.” After he had spent some seventeen years preaching his famous sermon courses in various cities and provinces of Italy (Assisi, Ber­ gamo, Brescia, Ferrara, Florence, Lombardy, Mantua, Modena, Peru­ gia, Prato, Reggio, Romagna, Rome, Siena, Umbria, Venice, Verona, Vicenza, Viterbo), St. Bernardine retired to the little friary of the Observance at Capriola (which he himself had founded about a year after his ordination to the holy priesthood in 1404), and spent the three years or more from 1433 to 1436 in writing his Latin ser­ mons. Subsequently, even as late as 1442, he went back several times to Capriola to revise what he had written and to write addi­ tional sermons. Twice his doctrine had been impugned (1427 and 1431); and although he had twice received the approbation of the Holy See, he wished to prtsent a detailed written record of his preaching and thus render it proof against future calumny. It was his purpose also to offer to other preachers more solid material than was contained in the manuals which were then in vogue. The result, therefore, was not so much a series of sermons as they were preached or should be 229 Fr o n tisp iece o f t h e Sertnones Sancti Bemhardini. De festtvitatibus v'trgirits gloriose, P r in t e d at N ü r n b er g in 1493 THE WORKS OF ST. BERNARDINE 231 preached, but rather a rich collection of sermon material and a vast treatise of dogmatic and moral theology. At the end of his Quadragesimale de Christiana Religione (the end of volume one in Ridolfi’s edition of 1591), St. Bernardine wrote: Longius evasit hoc opus quam volebam, quamque putabam: sed legentibus atque praedicantibus, quibus non erit ingratum, minime erit longum. Quibus vero longiores viderentur esse sermones, assumant eorum quascunque in praedicatione magis placuerint partes, cum quilibet articulus cujuscumque sermonis communiter ad legendum et praedicandum formatam et ordinatam materiam praestet.1 After the death of St. Bernardine, manuscript copies of his Latin sermons were spread with astounding rapidity throughout Italy, France, Spain, Germany, and even the Far East. Preachers every­ where sought inspiration in these sermons, studied them, and made use of them. St. Bernardine’s collection of sermons was acknowl­ edged to be the best work of its kind then in existence. Fr. Roberto da Lecce, famous Franciscan preacher of the second half of the fifteenth century, admits that he and his colleagues made frequent use of the sermons of St. Bernardine and prided themselves in emu­ lating his style and method; many a time they merely repeated word for word what he had written, and did so with great success.2 As printing presses were set up in various countries of Europe during the latter part of the fifteenth century, some of the sermons of St. Bernardine were made available in printed form. His sermons on the Blessed Virgin, for instance, were printed at Nürnberg in 1. "This work has turned out...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1945-9718
Print ISSN
0080-5459
Pages
pp. 229-246
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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