Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Bernardo Tolomei

Pompeo Batoni (1708-1787)
Blessed Bernardo Tolomei helping a victim of the plague 1745
Oil on canvas 261 x 173 cm
San Vittore al Corpo, Milan

Bernardo Tolomei (1272-1348) founded the congregation of the Blessed Virgin of Monte Oliveto (the Olivetans), giving it the Rule of St. Benedict.

The purpose of the new religious institute was a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin.

Upon the appearance of the plague in the district of Arezzo, Bernardo and his monks devoted themselves to the care of the sick at the monastery of San Benedetto a Porta Tufi in Siena. . As a result of this charitable act, Bernardo and eight two of his Olivetian confreres themselves succumbed to the ravages of the plague.

On 26th April 2009 he will be one of the saints canonised at a ceremony in St Peters Square, Rome

His life is described in the Vatican website

There is also a blog in Italian called San Bernardo Tolomei on the life of San Bernardo and the Benedictines of Mount Oliveto

On 22nd April 2009, Pope Benedict XVI discussed greed, the world economic crisis and the monastic life.

Referring to the little known eighth-century Benedictine monk, Abbot Ambrose Autpert, the Pope said that the ascetic lifestyle of contemplative religious does not reflect a disregard for the world, creation and beauty.

Turning their backs on the world's material possessions reflects "a disregard for the false vision of the world greed presents to us," he said. And it is this greed that tempts people into thinking that having is the most important value in life "and in this way distorts creation and destroys the world," he added.

The pope said the abbot also taught that God can only be found through love.

Theological or "intellectual study may point the way, but only when we love God do we truly know him," he said.

For more about Monte Oliveto, see The Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore and the Crete

For more about Batoni, see Re-discovering Batoni and Batoni: The Artist of the Sacred Heart