Bernardino Realino


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Jesuit priest (1530–1616).

Born at Carpi, near Modena of an academic and devout family, he went to Bologna University to study arts and medicine, graduating in 1551. He then studied civil and canon law at the request of a ladyfriend who thought he would make a good lawyer. He was awarded a doctorate in each kind of law in 1556 and went into civil government in various places, ending as general superintendent in the kingdom of Naples. He had married meanwhile, but his much-loved wife died young.

In 1564 he entered the novitiate of the Jesuits eight years after the death of their founder Ignatius of Loyola, when James Lainez was general, who appreciated men with experience of the world. Bernardino had this, with experience as a magistrate as well as sound formation in the humanities and in law. But as a Jesuit he lived ‘a good life grounded on sound doctrine, with few of this world's possessions but spiritual wealth in plenty, together with zealous love for God and man.’ This was expressed for ten years in Naples by care for the poor, the prisoners, and for Muslim slaves, by spiritual direction of novices and others, and later, by setting up the house at Lecce, where he was successively rector, vice-rector and in later life simply a teacher over a period of 40 years. In old age he would sign himself ‘useless old Bernardino Realino’ and died at the advanced age of 86. He was highly praised by St Robert Bellarmine, his provincial, who never heard a single complaint about him. His cult began soon and was helped by the people of Lecce desiring to have him as their patron and by the liquefaction of some of his blood. This however had ceased by 1895, when he was beatified. He was canonized in 1947. Feast: 2 July.

Lives by G. Germier (1943) and Francis Sweeney (1951); Letters (ed. G. Boero, 1854); Bibl. SS., ii. 1322–6; B.L.S., vii. 16–18; P. Molinari (ed.) Companions of Jesus (1974), pp. 70–72.

Subjects: Christianity.

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