Blessed Bernard Sammacca

Born in Catania, Sicily; died 1486; cultus approved 1825. Born of wealthy and pious parents, Bernard was given a good education. In spite of this good training, he spent a careless youth. Only after he was badly injured in a duel was he brought back to his senses. His long convalescence gave him plenty of time to think, and once he was able to go out of the house, he went to the Dominican convent of Catania and begged to be admitted to the order.

Bernard, as a religious, was the exact opposite of what he had been as a young man. Now he made no effort to obtain the things he had valued all his life, but spent his time in prayer, solitude, and continual penance. There is little recorded of his life, except that he kept the rule meticulously, and that he was particularly kind to sinners in the confessional. Apparently, he did not attain fame as a preacher, but was content to spend his time in the work of the confessional and the private direction of souls.

One legend pictures Bernard as having great power over birds and animals. When he walked outside in the gardens, praying, the birds would flutter down around him, singing; but as soon as he went into ecstasy, they kept still, for fear they would disturb him. Once, the porter was sent to Bernard’s room to call him, and saw a bright light shining under the door. Peeking through the keyhole, he saw a beautiful child shining with light and holding a book, from which Bernard was reading. He hurried to get the prior to see the marvel.

Bernard had the gift of prophecy, which he used on several occasions to try warning people to amend their lives. He prophesied his own death. Fifteen years after his death, he appeared to the prior, telling his to transfer his remains to the Rosary chapel. During this translation, a man was cured of paralysis by touching the relics (Benedictines, Dorcy).

Born: Catania, Sicily (year unknown)

Died: 1486

Canonized: Leo XII confirmed cultus in 1825

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