The Quiet Angel

Blessed Bernard of Offida

Feast Day: 24th August

Blessed Bernard was born into a poor farming family, accustomed to poverty and hard work. The qualities learnt in a poor farming family, together with great devotion and gentleness, brought to his life as a friar, making him a true son of St. Francis. He was fortunate to have been blessed with robust health. He needed it for the demanding life that lay ahead of him.

Born in Offida in Italy in 1604, one of the eight children of Joseph and Monica Peroni, and was baptised Dominic. From the age of seven he worked as a shepherd, and the many hours he spent alone on the hills developed his love for prayer and meditation. He attended the Capuchin church in Offida, and on Sundays he would often spend the whole day there without food. He was a loving and well-behaved child, and it was obvious from a very early age that God was calling him to His service.

He was accepted into the Capuchin novitiate in 1626, aged 22, and given the name Bernard. After his simple profession he learned to cook and to care for the sick.

His next appointment was the office of questor which he carried out faithfully in his home town for 37 years. He would never accept anything that was unnecessary. He hated waste, telling the friars, 'Let's remember that whatever we don't need, Christ's poor do.' He had the gift of reconciling enemies which earned him the title 'angel of peace' and, also, that of discernment. Two bishops recognised the saintly qualities of Bernard and said that he had done more for their dioceses than many prominent preachers.

When Bernard's superiors moved him from Offida, the people of his home town protested and had him returned to minister to them. During his questing days he made full use of his time and was found visiting the sick and the imprisoned. At the age of 80 he had to give up questing but he still made himself useful and acted as doorkeeper.

Like all the saints he had a great love for Our Blessed Lady and was faithful to the Rosary. On his deathbed, he urged the friars to be faithful to the Rule, to love each other, to live always in peace and to be generous to the poor. He died at Offida, aged 90, on 22 August 1694, and was beatified by Pius VI 101 years after his death.

Bernard's life tells us that if we are faithful to God He can use the simple talents that are ours for His honour and glory. This will mean giving God the time to fill us with His wisdom and courage. We may feel we have little to offer to God, but if we place in His hands the little we do have, He can put it to enormous use. In wanting to become saints let us also ask Blessed Bernard to give us a tender love for our Blessed Mother and to help us to be faithful to her Rosary.