Saints of the Day – Bernardino Realino

detail from an antique holy card of Saint Bernadine Realino, artist unknown, date unknownArticle

Born at Carpi (near Modena), Italy, in 1530; died at Lecce, Italy, 1616; beatified by Leo XIII; canonized in 1947 by Pope Pius XII. Bernardino led a lively early life, but after practicing law for some years, he entered the Society of Jesus at age 34. He was admitted at Naples by Father Alphonso Salmeron, one of the first companions of Saint Ignatius. He worked for 10 years in Naples, doing pastoral work, preaching, catechizing, and helping the poor, the sick, and prison inmates.

His holiness and fiery speaking caused him to be recognized as a saint in his lifetime and a spontaneous cultus sprang up, which helped to provide evidence for some of the remarkable occurrences that were testified to under oath in the process of his beatification.

After pastoring a flock, he went to the college at Lecce to teach and eventually was appointed rector of the college, where he remained for the rest of his life. Six years before his death, he fell and suffered two wounds that would not heal. During his last illness, blood from a leg wound was collected in vials on account of the great veneration in which Bernardino was held.

This blood behaved in various extraordinary ways. In some vessels it retained its liquidity over a century; in others it even foamed and seemed to increase in volume; in one, an observer said it “boiled” and frothed on the anniversary of his death and when brought near a reliquary containing his tongue.

In 1634, Bernardino’s tomb was opened by an ecclesiastical authority. A good deal of tissue was left, and it was separated from the bones and put into two glass containers, which were reburied with the skeleton in the coffin.

In 1711, the contents of the coffin were examined by the bishop of Lecce, in the presence of witnesses, to verify the relics. One of the glass vessels was broken, but in the other the tissues were in an apparently unaltered state but floating in a dark red liquid. The liquid was said by doctors to be blood,and they attested that its preservation and sweet smell were miraculous.

Two years later a commission of three bishops, appointed by the Congregation of Sacred Rites to examine the blood, found it to be liquid, crimson, and foaming. Don Gaetano Solazzo, who had charge of a vial (probably the vial of 1616) in the Cathedral of Lecce in 1804, left a statement saying it was liquid and had twice foamed and bubbled.

Nuns saw it do the same, and a Jesuit father stated in a sworn deposition that he’d witnessed it do the same twice in 1852. These circumstances are notable because they are such a well- authenticated example of such phenomena. In 1895, a biographer could find no relic of blood still in a liquid state (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, White).

MLA Citation

  • Katherine I Rabenstein. Saints of the Day, 1998. CatholicSaints.Info. 30 June 2020. Web. 10 July 2020. <>