The Basilica of St Bernardino all'Osservanza

The Devotion to the Name of Jesus

Bernardino’s sermons began to be successful in Milan as early as in 1418, when he began to spread the cult of the tablet with a sun painted in the centre bearing the “JHS” (Jesus Hominum Salvator - Jesus the Saviour of Men) trigram. The devotion to the Name of Jesus encouraged by Bernardino gave rise to great enthusiasm and strong vexation at the same time. The zeal of his faith and his oratorical skills, combined with the ostentation of the trigram, rallied considerable masses of the faithful, even for the unprecedented use in a devotional context of letters of the alphabet instead of images: the so-called “letters of the simple” Many accused Bernardino of encouraging superstition, seeing that that the crowd saw the tablet as an amulet whose three letters were considered to be a sort of magical formula. The most serious charge brought against him was that of encouraging the idolatry of the tablet, an accusation that culminated at first in the summoning of the Saint in front of Pope Martin V (1426), who acquitted him advising a cautious use of the trigram, and then with the indictment of the preacher to the Council of Basel. Here Pope Eugene IV, with the Sedis Apostolicae bull issued on January 7th 1432, finally freed Bernardino of all charges and praised the virtues and the great services rendered to the Church with his evangelism. For some years already, precisely . . .
  • Saint Bernardino’s Tablet with the Christogram, 1425.