Bernadine Albizeschi was born in 1380 at Massa Maritima near Siena, where his father was governor . In 1400, after training in civil and canon law, he and some companions exhausted themselves caring for the plague-stricken,from which his health never fully recovered. He joined the Friars Minor in 1402 and after ordination withdrew to the Observantine convent nearby for some twelve years.
His extraordinary missionary life began in 1417 and he gained an amazing influence over the turbulent Italian cities. As many as 30,000 people would come to hear his sermons which could last for three hours,and people would then flock to confession . It is almost impossible to exaggerate his success, both spiritual and practical. He paved the way for the later foundation of Monti di Pieta which lent money and grain without interest. Bernadine’s keynote was peace and peacemaking and persuaded many cities to remove their warlike insignia from the walls and replace them with the monogram IHS as a mark of devotion to the holy name of Jesus. He suffered much opposition and was accused of heresy by a Dominican whom he refuted. Pope Martin V put him on trial in 1427 when Saint John Capistran spoke in Bernadine’s defence. The charges were so manifestly unjustified that the Pope begged him to preach in Rome itself and wanted to make him bishop of Siena and later Ferrara and Urbino but Bernadine refused saying all Italy was already his diocese !
He was made vicar-general of the Observant friars in 1438 and had to abandon his preaching tours. He sent missionaries to many parts of the Far East and died in Aquila on 20 May 1444, aged 63. He was canonised by Pope Nicholas V , a Franciscan pope in 1450 .