Saint Bernard Tolomei (10 May 1272 – 20 August 1348) is the patron of people suffering from pestilence and of those who care for them. Saint Bernard, who contracted the plague while ministering to the sick of Siena, died a martyr of charity, He is commemorated in the radiance of the Assumption of Our Lady and close to Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, either on August 19th or August 21st.
O glorious father, Saint Bernard Tolomei, quickened by the breath of the Divine Spirit and ablaze with a seraphic charity, to thee was it given to sing in all truth, “Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell in unity”.
Together with thy companions, in the communion of a friendship born of God, thou didst seek the things that are above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. With thy friends, become, by grace, thy sons, thou didst forsake the vanities of this passing world to live in the solitude of the holy mountain.
Thine it was to serve the God whom Moses beheld amidst thunder, lightning, and cloud. Thine it was to meditate day and night on the law of the Lord. Thine it was to raise pure hands in ceaseless prayer, and to pour out thy soul before the face of the living God.
Assiduous in prayer, and constant in silence, thou wast full of ardour for the praise of God. The warmth of thy fervour and the radiance of thy joy won men for Christ in ever–increasing numbers, until, at length, thy sons became like olive trees, growing in strength about thy table.
Blessed are thine eyes, O father Saint Bernard, who, like Jacob in the night, didst behold a mystic ladder. At its summit, thou didst see the Saviour and His Virgin Mother clothed in white. Upon this ladder Angels descended to earth and monks, clothed in white, ascended into heaven.
Herein was given thee the pattern of thy monastery: a ladder rising into heavenly glory, and an abiding pledge of the grace of Christ. Herein do we find help in the combat of holy obedience and safety in the keeping of Thine Angels. Herein do we find the sweet company of Mary most holy, inviting us to trust in her maternal intercession, and to honour her by a humble purity of life.
Consumed in the end, by thy seraphic charity, thou didst descend, O blessed father Bernard, like an angel of mercy from the heights of Monte Oliveto to spend thyself in the service of a people ravaged by the plague. Descend, then, to us today for we, no less than they, are languishing, and in need of thy gentle ministrations. Obtain for us an outpouring of thy spirit so that we, like thee and thy first disciples, may abide together in holy friendship, praising God by day and by night, confident in the intercession of the Most Holy Virgin, and never despairing of the mercy of God, to whom be all glory and praise, on earth as in heaven, now and unto the ages of ages. Amen.