Today, on the Liturgical calendar for the Latin rite of the Catholic Church, we celebrate the memory of Saint Bernardine of Sienna. Saint Bernardine was an Italian Franciscan missionary priest during the early 1400’s. He was best known for his ministry in spreading devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus throughout most of Italy. I have just recently stumbled upon this saint, and I am very excited about his patronage….being that I am an asthmatic graphic designer.

So, how does one become the Patron Saint of breathing problems and advertising? This takes many forms. In brief, Saints are chosen to be patrons when an interest, talent, or event in their lives overlaps with a special area. For a Catholic, a saint’s patronage is about three things, or rather three devotional qualifiers: example, empathy, and intercession. Let’s consider for instance today’s Saint and look at each of the three qualifiers to patronage.

As stated above, Saint Bernardine is the patron saint of breathing problems and advertising. How he became the patron of breathing problems was through a personal miracle. Unfortunately, Bernardine was born with a pulmonary defect in his lungs which prevented his voice from being heard by large groups. Since Bernardine was a preacher by nature, this was cause for some personal conflict. After a considerable amount of prayer for the Blessed Virgin’s intercession, Bernardine was healed of his defect and his voice grew more powerful with every sermon. For an asthmatic like myself, St. Bernardine’s patronage is important to me. I make his patronage practical in my spiritual life by looking to him for an example of trust in God’s healing power over breathing ailments that ultimately have no power in controlling me or what God has planned for me. I then trust in his intercessions because of his empathy. He’s walked in my shoes too, so to speak. He knows my pain. And he can only know my pain because ultimately Christ knows my pain. St. Bernardine’s life testimony ministers to me an example of how I too can ” overcome the world” (John 16:33). So, I am excited to imitate his example and seek his prayers. For more about why Catholics pray to saints read my post here. And to read a sermon quote by St. Augustine that further elaborates saintly patronage and veneration click here.

Saint Bernardine is the patron of advertising because of his main preaching ministry, which was to spread devotion to the Holy Name. St. Bernardine manufactured and distributed beautifully designed sacred images with the name of Jesus in the ancient monogram “I.H.S.”. What the monogram actually stands for has been lost in translation but most think it displays the first three letters of Jesus’ name in Greek (Latinized: Iota Eta Sigma). It is used as a symbol through which we can venerate Jesus’s name. Simply, what St. Bernardine did was create a “sacred advertising campaign”. Through it, he was able to successfully encourage greater devotion to Christ. As a Graphic Designer, I am reminded by Bernardine’s example that the ultimate goal and gain of my Advertising talents is to encourage devotion to the good news of Jesus – whose very name is good news enough (Matthew 1:21). So, I make an effort, in a variety ways, to include God in my design processes and to keep myself open to the possibility of facilitating the Church’s ministry through them. And, when my work stresses me out and makes me reach for my inhaler, I call on my brother for help…

Saint Bernardine of Siena of the Holy Name of Jesus, pray for us!

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