The Basilica of St Bernardino all'Osservanza


Bernardino, son of Sienese nobleman Tullo Albizzeschi, was born on September 8th 1380 in Massa Marittima, where his father, who married Nera degli Avveduti, had moved. The day in which Bernardino was born is meaningful for his future: September 8th is the day on which the church celebrates the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to whom he was extremely devoted to. Furthermore, only a few months before (April 29th ) in that very same year, the other great saint from Siena of the time, Saint Catherine, died in Rome, as if to imply a passing of the baton between the two. At 6 years of age Bernardino was orphaned and raised by his Aunt Diana until her death; when he was 11 he was placed under the care of the Albizzeschi family living in Siena. Here he was tutored by his cousin Tobia, a Franciscan tertiary, and by his aunt Bartolomea, an Augustinian tertiary. He studied with the finest teachers, concentrating his studies mainly on philosophy and law. In 1400, during a severe epidemic of plague, Bernardino worked as a volunteer at the Hospital of Santa Maria della Scala, where even he maybe fell ill for a short time. Following his desire to lead a religious life, Bernardino took the Franciscan habit in the church of Saint Francis in Siena on August 31st 1402, and on September 8th (yet again on the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary) 1404 he celebrated his first mass. Bernardino was an . . .
  • Sano di Pietro, Saint Bernardino preaching in the Piazza del Campo, detail, mid XVth century.