Berard of Carbio
|Saint Berard of Carbio, O.F.M.|
|Religious, priest and martyr|
Carbio, Umbria, Papal States
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 Franciscan friar who was executed in Morocco due to his attempts to promote Christianity, a thirteenth-century saint and martyr. 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. He 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 the "infidels of the East". 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. He therefore willingly granted Berard and his companions the permission they requested to preach in the missions of Morocco.
The five missionaries set sail from Italy and landed in Seville, then still under Muslim rule, where their preaching proved fruitless. After sojourning some time in Spain and Portugal, they traveled 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. However, when it became apparent 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 left its security and traveled to Assisi as well, in order to join the Franciscan Order. He is now known as St. Anthony of Padua.
- (in Italian) Santi Berardo, Otone, Pietro, Accursio e Adiuto Protomartiri dell’Ordine dei Frati Minori
- (in German) Antonius von Padua - mentioned in the entry for Saint Anthony
- Catholic Encyclopedia article