Capuchin Lay Brother
Bernard was born on 6th February, 1605 in the Sicilian town of Corleone. Corleone was a ferocious town that had succumbed to Spanish rule but not without a fierce fight.
Bernard had been well instructed in the Christian faith and practice by his devout parents. But being strong and bold, like his town, he became a soldier and the joined the army fighting the many wars at that time. While in the army he developed a fiery temper and was quick to challenge men to a duel. His life was not noted for its moral content and he had quite a reputation in the company.
One day in a duel his opponent fell. Bernard fled thinking that he had killed him. The Capuchins gave the fugitive soldier hospitality. Here he had a chance to think over his past life. God rewarded his prayer by letting him have a real sorrow for his past life and a desire to do penance. The brotherhood in the Capuchins attracted him and he was received as a novice.
True to his ideal, Bernard put aside his former life and moved by the Holy Spirit set about the Novitiate to make himself as meek as a lamb among his brothers. God showed him the value of penance. To reform himself the brother began by taking only a little water and food. He drank only water that was bitter or hot and his scant rest was taken on a board. His habit and cell were the poorest in the house. He worked long hours and the sick were his special care. He kept regular fasts and it is said that it is doubtful if he ever ate a full meal in his 37 years that he was in religious life. He frequently ate only bread and water. Never would he wear a new habit or allow new furnishings in his cell. As a consequence he suffered greatly from rheumatism.
In time Bernard became gentle and sweet with all at home and out. He had the highest regard for his brothers and his superiors, he only spoke to them on bended knee. Prayer and fasting were his consolation and the Lord rewarded him abundantly.
This holy brother became the pride and joy of all the friars. His virtue was a lesson to all. Poverty, simplicity, chastity, silence and love of recollection are lessons that Bernard gives us together with the value of penance. Bernard was beatified in 1768, canonised by Pope John Paul II in 2001, and his feast is celebrated on January 12th.