Bernard of Andermatt

Capuchin Priest

Born in 1837, the fourth child of a family of thirteen, Edouard Christian spent his early years helping his parents run their cattle. Though schooling was not compulsory, Edouard attended school developing a great love for literature and also coming into contact with Capuchin teachers. In his second last year there, he expressed the desire of becoming a Capuchin because of the example of his teachers.

On the 5th of October 1855, Edouard entered the Novitiate at Lucerne receiving the habit and the name of Bernard. Tough sometimes haunted by scruples and fearful of the scrutiny verdict, he persevered with himself and the sever conditions in the Novitiate house, making his solemn profession in October 1856. He then undertook clerical studies and was ordained in 1860. In 1876 Father Bernard was elected first definitor, in which role he successfully renewed and up dated the philosophical and theological studies of the clerical candidates in the order. He also worked tirelessly to tighten up regular observance in the order, also restoring the enclosure to the many houses which had abandoned it.

At the General Chapter of 1884, Fr Bernard was elected as Minister General. In Rome he set up office for his curia in a new building and then turned his attention to the Spanish situation where the order had suffered much at the hands of the revolutionaries. So great was his success, that even today, Fr Bernard is called "the restorer and father of the provinces of Spain". Under his leadership, the missions were once more placed under the direction of the General resulting in the flourishing situation in which we find the missions today. Bernard was also instrument in the revision of the Constitutions of 1530.

Fr Bernards incessant work for the renewal of the Order was recognised by both Popes Leo XIII and Pius X, the later naming him Titular Archbishop of Stauropolis in 1908. He died the following year having lived his life in faithful perseverance of the Capuchin ideals despite his fantastic work load. He drew his energy for his activity from prayer and contemplation. He achieved the impossible and assembled the Curia for prayer. Those who knew him testify to his deep devotion to Mary and were forever impressed by his simplicity and humility.