Berard of Carbio
Saint Berard of Carbio, O.F.M.
|Religious, priest and martyr|
Carbio, Umbria, Papal States
|Died||16 January 1220|
|Venerated in||Catholic Church|
|Canonized||7 August 1481, Rome by Pope Sixtus IV|
|Major shrine||Monastery of the Holy Cross, Coimbra, Portugal|
Berard of Carbio, O.F.M., was a thirteenth-century Franciscan friar who was executed in Morocco for attempting to promote Christianity. Expelled from the kingdom twice, they returned each time and continued to preach against Islam. In anger and frustration, the king finally beheaded them. He and his companions, Peter, Otho, Accursius, and Adjutus, are venerated as saints and considered the Franciscan Protomartyrs.
According to tradition, Berard was born into a noble family of Leopardi, and was a native of Carbio in Umbria, a province of the Papal States. He was received into the newly founded Franciscan Order by St. Francis of Assisi in 1213. On the conclusion of the Second General Chapter of the Franciscan friars in 1219, Francis believed the time had then come for the friars of his Order to extend their apostolic labors beyond the Italian peninsula and northern Europe. Berard was well versed in Arabic, was an eloquent preacher, and was chosen by Francis, together with two other priests, Peter and Otho, and two lay brothers, Accursius and Adjutus, to evangelize in Morocco.
The five missionaries set sail from Italy and arriving in Portugal, crossed into Spain and then to Seville, then still under Muslim rule, where their preaching antagonized the king. After imprisoning them for some three weeks, he expelled them to the Kingdom of Morocco. Despite the fact that the only one of the five who knew any Arabic was Berard, their open preaching of the Gospel and their bold denunciation of Islam soon caused them to be viewed as insane. The king ordered them escorted to Ceuta and put aboard ships bound for Christian lands. However, the friars left the ships, returned to Morocco, and resumed preaching. They were then released and given guides to take them to Christian territory, but they once again returned. When it became clear that they would neither go away nor stop preaching, they were apprehended and cast into prison. Having vainly endeavored to persuade them to abandon their Catholic faith, the Moorish king, in a fit of rage, beheaded them with his scimitar, making them the first martyrs of the Franciscan Order.
When he heard of their deaths, Francis is reported to have said, "Now at least do I have true Friars Minor!" Upon the return of their bodies to Portugal, they were solemnly processed from there all the way to Assisi. One young Portuguese canon regular was so moved by their sacrifice when he saw this caravan pass by his monastery, that he joined the Franciscan Order. He is now known as St. Anthony of Padua.
- Jones, Terry. "Berard". Patron Saints Index. Archived from the original on 2007-02-18. Retrieved 2007-03-05.
- Donovan, Stephen. "St. Berard of Carbio." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 2. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 16 May 2018
- Arnald of Sarrant. "The Generalate of Brother Albert of Pisa", Chronicle of the Twenty-Four Generals of the Order of Friars Minor, (Noel Muscat ofm, trans.) Ordo Fratrum Minorum. Malta, 2010
- Attwater, Donald and Catherine Rachel John. The Penguin Dictionary of Saints. 3rd edition. New York: Penguin Books, 1993. ISBN 0-14-051312-4.
- "Saint Berard and Companions", Franciscan Media
- (in Italian) Santi Berardo, Otone, Pietro, Accursio e Adiuto Protomartiri dell’Ordine dei Frati Minori
- (in Italian) Fonti Protomartiri Francescani
- (in Italian) Iconografia Protomartiri Francescani e s. Antonio
- (in German) Antonius von Padua - mentioned in the entry for Saint Anthony
- Jubilee year marking the eighth centenary of the arrival of the Franciscans in Morocco