Venerable Sergio Bernadini

CQ-SOM-Sep2016Sergio Bernardini and his wife Domenica are an Italian couple who are both in the process of canonization and declared venerable because of their heroic virtues. Sergio was born in 1882 in a small town in the Italian mountains. He was a very smart man and used his talents to learn many trades. His nickname was “the man of many trades”. He grew up in a strong religious family. In 1907, when he was 25 years old he married Emilia Romani. In 1912,  Sergio experienced a great deal of loss. Both of his parents passed away and his wife Emilia and their children died unexpectedly due to illness. Sergio found himself alone and with many debts because of medical and funeral expenses he had in caring for his family. He decided to travel to the USA to find work in a mine, in order to be able to pay off his debts in a timely manner. One year later he had accomplished his goal  and came back to Italy. He met Domenica Bedonna shortly after. She was cheerful, lively, very pious, active, and hardworking. They married in  1914 and moved to a small farm.  They spent their lives focused on family, work and the parish. In 13 years, Sergio and Domenica had ten children, eight girls and two boys. Sergio and Domenica were simple and devout people, who educated their 10 children in faith and love for the poor. They were generous to anyone who sought food or solace, especially during the difficulties of the First World War.  This generosity rubbed off on their children and eight of their ten children entered the missionary religious life with different congregations. One of their sons became a  bishop in Turkey. When Sergio retired, he and his wife “adopted” a Nigerian seminarian – paying for his priestly education in Rome out of their modest pension. Years later, this seminarian was not only ordained a priest, but became a bishop of his hometown in Africa. During the dramatic period of World War II, Sergio demonstrated his great faith in God and love of neighbor. The Germans captured him in a raid, but then released him. For the last ten years of his life, Sergio and Domenica visited their children, dedicated their time to prayer and retreats. At the age of 82, Sergio’s health began to decline and he died in 1966 at his home with his wife and children present. Domenica lived with her daughter for 5 years until she passed away in 1971. Pope Francis declared them venerable examples of heroic virtue in 2015.