Procter/Dominican Saints/Bl. Bernard Scammacca
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John Procter, O.P.
Blessed Bernard Scammacca, Confessor
(Died A.D. 1486)
BERNARD SCAMMACCA was born of a noble family at Catania in Sicily. His youth was spent in sinful disorders, but a wound which he received in one of his legs proved the means of his conversion. During his long hours of suffering and sleeplessness he entered into himself, realised the perilous condition of his soul, and resolved to renounce his evil ways. On his recovery, he asked and received the Dominican habit in the Convent of Catania, and henceforth devoted himself to a life of prayer and penance. He was distinguished for his obedience and humility, and for his gift of contemplation. When he retired into the garden to pray, as he was fond of doing, the little birds would come and perch on his head and outstretched arms, and there sing sweetly, filling him with the thought of the celestial harmonies; nor would they depart until they had received his blessing.
He was favoured with the gift of prophecy, and many prodigies showed how dear to God was this humble and penitent soul. Once he was found raised in the air in ecstasy before a crucifix. On another occasion the porter knocked loudly at the door of his cell to summon him to some ministry of charity. Receiving no answer, he was about to repeat the summons, when he saw a brilliant light issuing through a chink in the door, and, looking through the keyhole, he beheld the holy man in rapture, and by his side a child of heavenly beauty, bearing a lighted torch which filled the cell with a brilliant light.
Blessed Bernard devoted himself with generous ardour to the relief of the bodily and spiritual needs of his neighbours. Whilst preaching to others he failed not to expiate the sins of his youth by the practice of severe austerities. He died A.D. 1486. Fifteen years later he appeared to the Prior of the Convent, and bade him remove his remains to a more honourable resting-place. This was accordingly done, and the body was found incorrupt. During the whole of the ceremony the church-bells, untouched by mortal hands, rang out with heavenly melody. Miracles of all kinds were worked at Blessed Bernard's tomb. A nobleman who had been cured through his intercession resolved to remove the sacred remains to his castle, and came by night to the Convent with a troop of armed men to carry out his design. But the servant of God would not allow his body to be removed from the Convent where he had lived and died. Appearing in the dormitory, he knocked at every door, telling the Friars that violent hands were being laid on his body in the church; and as they delayed obeying his summons, which they thought to be only a dream, he began to ring the great bell. Then the Brethren hurried to the church, where they found the tomb empty, and the sacred body lying at the door, surrounded by armed men who were vainly endeavouring to raise it from the ground. It had miraculously become so heavy that the robbers were unable to move it. They took to flight at the approach of the Friars, who had not the slightest difficulty in restoring the precious remains to their resting-place.
Blessed Bernard, having always received great veneration in Sicily, was finally beatified by Leo XII., A.D. 1825.
O God, who didst bring back Blessed Bernard from the vices of the world, and didst lead him into the way of perfection, grant, through his merits and intercession, that we likewise may bewail our sins and may be converted with pure minds to Thee. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.