Saint Bernardo da Corleone (6 February 1605 - 12 January 1667) - born Filippo Latini - was a Roman Catholic professed religious from the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. He was a cobbler like his father until the latter died and he became a violent-tempered soldier who was quick to challenge to a duel those who offended him or the causes he believed in. But one duel went too far and he almost killed his opponent; he fled to the Franciscans in Palermo where he experienced a radical conversion and repentance for his previous life. He became severe with himself and inflicted harsh penances on himself such as flagellation.
The process for his sainthood opened on 18 December 1725 under Pope Benedict XIII and he became titled as a Servant of God while the confirmation of his life of heroic virtue allowed for Pope Clement XIII to title him as Venerable on 2 February 1762. The confirmation of two miraculous healings attributed to his intercession allowed for Clement XIII to preside over the beatification on 15 May 1768. Latini received canonization from Pope John Paul II centuries later on 10 June 2001 after the confirmation of one more miracle.
Bernardo da Corleone
6 February 1605|
Corleone, Sicily, Kingdom of Sicily
12 January 1667 (aged 61)|
Palermo, Sicily, Kingdom of Sicily
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church|
|Beatified||15 May 1768, Saint Peter's Basilica, Papal States by Pope Clement XIII|
|Canonized||10 June 2001, Saint Peter's Square, Vatican City by Pope John Paul II|
Filippo Latini was born in 1605 in Corleone as the third of six children to Leonardo Latini (d. 7 March 1620) and Francesca; he was baptized just hours after his birth. His brothers and sisters were pious unlike him who paid no particular attention to his faith. One brother of his was a priest. He had no formal schooling.
His father was a shoemaker and Latini learned this trade from him; his father was so compassionate that he invited the poor to their home to wash for them and to feed them. But the death of his father prompted him to continue on in his profession for a while to support his mother but soon left and instead become a soldier on 1 May 1618 and took up fencing which he became quite skilled in. But in the armed service he possessed a boiling temper and was quick to challenge men to a duel. His single fault - according to two witnesses during the beatification trials - was that "he was quick to draw his sword at the slightest provocation". His life was not noted for its moral content and he had quite a formidable reputation for that reason.
Latini was not that devout but he would defend old people and other helpless and defenseless persons against violence. He made frequent visits to a local crucifix and provided the fact that a lamp be kept burning before it; he was a devotee of Saint Francis of Assisi. In the summer of 1624 he became involved in a duel which cost his opponent Vito Canino his arm. This incident was something that a large amount of people witnessed and it caused an uproar which saw him nicknamed as "the finest blade". To escape from the man's avengers he sought refuge with the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin for this duel had shaken him to the core. He later begged forgiveness to his opponent who befriended him after their differences were resolved.
During his time with the friars for the next week he began to reflect on his life and began to repent his life of anger and violence. He appealed for admission to the order as a religious and on 13 December 1632 entered their novitiate at Caltanissetta where he received the order's garb and the name "Bernardo da Corleone". His devotion became severe: he scourged himself seven times a week with drew blood. His sleep was limited to three hours a night on a narrow board with a block of wood under his head to act as a pillow. He fasted for the most part on bread and water. If other food was given to him he would place the food in his mouth to whet his appetite and then take it out without consuming it. He would wear the most worn habits available and slept in the most uncomfortable cell in the house. One result of this was that he suffered from rheumatism for much of his later life. He worked long hours and had a special concern for the sick; he ended up growing into a man known for his gentleness and compassion.
Latini was stationed in Corleone (1635–36) before being transferred to Bovina (1636–37) and Castronovo (1637-38); he continued to be transferred to Castelvetrano (1638–39) and Sambuca (1639-40) which lasted just over a decade. He then moved to Bisaquino (1640–41) and to Ciminna (1641–42) before being moved to Chiusa (1642–43) and then to Castronovo (1643–44) once again. Latini was then sent to Agrigento (1644–46) and then returned to Castronovo (1646–47) before setting off for Caltabellotta (1647–48) and then to Burgio (1648–50) before going back to Chiusa (1650–51). He was then sent to Partinico (1651–52) and then to Palermo in 1652 where he was until his death. In the meantime he met his former opponent and now-friend Vito Canino in 1654 and then twice more in 1659 and 1663.
He possessed a strong devotion to the Madonna and encouraged others in this devotion. His biographers claim that the Blessed Mother appeared to him and placed Jesus Christ - as an infant - in his arms. It is also claimed that she gave him knowledge of the date of his death four months in advance. In the friaries he served as either a cook or assistant cook but towards the end of his life dealt with washing and managing the clothes of his compatriots. He once burnt his own mouth on purpose with a brand snatched from a kitchen fire after he said an unkind word to a confrere.
He died in Palermo on 12 January 1667 at 2:00pm after having been moved to the convent's hospital wing on 7 January; his funeral procession was extensive due to the fame he had acquired during his life. On his deathbed he kept repeating: "Let's go" in anticipation for his 'dies natalis' (birth into heaven). Numerous miracles that were reported to have been occurring at his grave were recorded and this formed the basis for the beginning of an eventual canonization cause.
The beatification process opened in Palermo in an informative process that began in 1673 and concluded sometime later before an apostolic process was opened in 1681 and closed at the end of the decade on 16 December 1689. The formal introduction to the cause came under Pope Benedict XIII on 18 December 1725 and Latini became titled as a Servant of God as a result of this. The confirmation of his heroic virtue allowed for Pope Clement XIII to title him as Venerable on 2 February 1762 while the same pope beatified him later on 15 May 1768 at Saint Peter's Basilica. Pope Clement XIV issued a decree resuming the cause on 11 December 1773. For beatification two miraculous healings attributed to Latini's intercession were investigated and approved.
One final miracle was needed for him to be canonized as a saint and one such one was investigated in its diocese of origin and it was all sent to Rome where the Congregation for the Causes of Saints reviewed it and validated the process on 22 May 1998. The medical panel of experts approved this miracle on 12 May 1999 as did the theologians on 24 September 1999 and the C.C.S. on 21 March 2000. Pope John Paul II approved this miracle on 1 July 2000 and formalized the date for sainthood in a consistory on 13 March 2001. John Paul II canonized Latini as a saint on 10 June 2001 in Saint Peter's Square.