Saturday, August 3, 2019


A couple added to the rostrum as example  of a holy marriage are VENERABLE SERGIO BERNARDINI  and VENERABLE DOMENICA BEDONNI BERNARDINI   Both from Modena, Italy, were  Secular Franciscans and had ten children, eight of whom joined religious life.

Five daughters became Daughters of St. Paul, one daughter became a Franciscan, and two sons became Capuchins. One of these sons is today the Archbishop Emeritus of SmyrnaTurkey.

The Bernardinis are the third married couple in the history of the Church to receive this title (they were preceded by Blessed Luigi and Blessed Maria Beltrame and St. Louis and St. Zelie Martin.)

Born in 1882, Sergio Bernardini lost his father, mother, brother, first wife and their three young children over a period of a few months in 1912.

Hoping to avoid painful memories, he immigrated to the United States and found work as a miner. However, he returned to Italy after just a year because, he said, he was afraid life in a mine was going to make him lose his faith in Christ.

He fell in love with Domenica and they married in 1914 and had 10 children. They were poor farmers, but generous to anyone who sought food or solace, especially during the difficulties of the First World War.

When Sergio retired, he and his wife “adopted” a Nigerian seminarian – paying for his priestly education in Rome out of their modest pension. That seminarian today is 76-year-old retired Archbishop Felix Alaba Job of Ibadan, Nigeria.   Their son, Germano Bernardini, became Archbishop of İzmir in Turkey.

Sergio died in 1966 and Domenica in 1971. In her spiritual testimony, she said everything led her to God – even by “kissing a rose, I kiss the beauty of God”.

She said her children were “my crown and my treasure” and wished she could find a way to express what a great gift it was to have so many children and vocations in the family. She prayed they would become saints and “be a force for good in the world”.

Pope Francis said that the Bernardinis are an example to all Christians as to how to live the virtues to a heroic degree within the context of the married life and that they were above all models of how to educate one’s children in a Christian way.

The lives of Sergio and Domenica Bernardini, both well known throughout Italy, were characterized by hard work in the fields , the practice of the family virtues and above all the Christian education of their numerous offspring.

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