== Sources ==
Two hagiographical lives of Bernardino of Siena were written by two of his friends; the one the same year in which he died, by Barnaby of Sienna; the other by Maffei Veggio, soon after his death.ref== Life ===== Early life ===
Bernardino was born in 1380 to the noble Albizeschi family in [[Massa Marittima]] ([[Tuscany]]), a Sienese town of which his father, Tollo, was then governor. Left orphaned at six, he was raised by a pious aunt. In 1397, after a course of civil and canon law, he joined the [[Confraternity of Our Lady]] attached to the hospital of [[Santa Maria della Scala]] church. Three years later, when the plague visited Siena, he ministered to the plague-stricken, and, assisted by ten companions, took upon himself for four months entire charge of this hospital.ref He escaped the plague but was so exhausted that a fever confined him for several months.ref In 1403 he joined the Observant branch of the [[Order of Friars Minor]] (the [[Franciscan Order]]), with a strict observance of ' Rule. Bernardino was ordained a priest in 1404 and was commissioned as a preacher the next year.ref About 1406 St. [[Vincent Ferrer]], a friar and missionary, while preaching at [[Alessandria]] in the [[Piedmont]] region of Italy, allegedly foretold that his mantle should descend upon one who was then listening to him, and said that he would return to France and Spain, leaving to Bernardino the task of evangelizing the remaining peoples of Italy.ref[[File:Saint bernardin de sienne Langeais.JPG|thumb|Saint bernardin de sienne Langeais]]
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In January 1427 he was in [[Orvieto]], where his main topic seems to have been the practice of [[usury]], urging the executive to take stringent steps against all such as were addicted to this business, of whom the majority were Jews. In Milan, he was often visited by a merchant who urged him to inveigh strenuously against usury, only to find that his visitor was himself the greatest usurer of the place, whose activities were prompted by a wish to lessen competition.ref
Both while he was alive and after his death, Bernardino's sermons were unapologetic (the first edition of his works, for the most part elaborate sermons, was printed at [[Lyon]] in 1501): of severe moralizing temperament, he inveighed against various classes of people he believed were particularly responsible for the moral corruption of Christendom. He spoke out against witchcraft, and called for sodomites (i.e., homosexuals) to be either isolated from society or eliminated from the human community. He thus became the moral [[major domo]] of what historian has called "the persecuting society" of late medieval Christian Europe.ref
Bernardino is particularly resented today as being a "major protagonist of Christian anti-semitism". He called for Jews to be isolated from the wider communities in which they lived; blaming the poverty of local Christians on Jewish usury. His audiences often used his words to reinforce actions against Jews, and his preaching left a legacy of resentment on the part of Jews.ref
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Bernardino lived into the early days of the [[old master print|print]] and was the subject of portraits in his lifetime, as well as a death-mask, which were copied to make prints, so that he is one of the earliest saints to have a fairly consistent appearance in art; though many [[Baroque]] images, such as that by [[El Greco]], are idealized compared to the realistic ones made in the decades after his death.
After his death, the Franciscans promoted an iconographical program of diffusion of images of Bernardino, which was second only to that of the founder of the order. As such, he is one of the earliest saints whose appearance was given a distinct and readily recognisable iconography. Artists of the late medieval and Renaissance periods often represented him as small and emaciated,ref with three mitres at his feet (representing the three bishoprics which he had rejected) and holding in his hand the [[Christogram|IHS]] monogram with rays emanating from it (representing his devotion to the "Holy Name of Jesus"), which was his main .ref He appears to have been a favourite in the works [[Luca della Robbia]], and one of the finest examples of Renaissance art includes relief carvings of the saint, which can be seen on the oratory of [[Perugia Cathedral]].