A recent CommonSenseAtheism post featured a picture in which St. Bernard of Corleone was named. Curious about the reference to "kill a few guys," I looked him upon on Wikipedia. Among the fact that he might have killed someone in a duel prior to entering a Capuchin monestary, something else caught my attention:

Bernard had a strong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and encouraged others in this devotion. His biographers claim that Mary appeared to him and placed Jesus, as an infant, in his arms. It is also claimed that she gave him knowledge of the day of his death four months in advance. He died at Palermo on 12 January 1667, a few weeks short of his 62nd birthday.

This is reproduced elsewhere, but also without any source for the origin of the claim. For example, see his entry at the site Roman-Catholic-Saints.com:

Moreover, she gave him knowledge of the day of his death four months in advance. He died at Palermo on January 12, 1667.

Is there evidence for the claim that Bernard knew or claimed to know the date of his death in advance?

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    I've cleaned up the comments here. It is understood that this is not a matter of belief. Hendy is merely asking whether there is historical proof or not. Is it something attributed to him by historians or is it just some random fluff or mere legend, etc.? – Sklivvz Jan 10 '12 at 19:57
  • @Sklivvz: Yes. Your last sentence is exactly what I want to know. Supported by any evidence or just blathered stuff that has spread all over the web. Finally someone understands. – Hendy Jan 10 '12 at 20:01
  • @chad: Understood. Check the edit I just made. Do you think that it helps make the aim of the question less ambiguous? – Hendy Jan 10 '12 at 22:48
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    @Hendy: Thank you! See we can all just get along :) I would withdraw my close vote – Chad Jan 11 '12 at 14:27

It appears that there is no readily available source for this claim.

Other than claims beginning with the words "It is thought that..." or "It is believed that," I could not find any reputable source for this belief (actually, I couldn't find any source at all except for the hearsay-sounding examples above).

TL;DR: I searched Google Books and Amazon for instances of "Bernard Corleone" and "Philip Latini" (pre-monk name) and didn't find any instance of the claim. Below are screen shots of my findings and the summary at the very end lists my interpretation of this lack of mention.

Sklivvz has already pointed out in his answer that the official Vatican biography does not include the claim. Here are some others which fail to reference it:

This book features a preview on Google Books allowing the full read of Bernard of Corleone. The entry is on Page 14 (the book is organized by feast date; his entry is January 12th). Here is the screenshot of the end of the entry, which makes no note of this claim (or even the apparition of Mary placing the baby Jesus in his arms; the only apparition mentioned is from Jesus himself):

Lives of Saints

The preview on Google Books contains no mention:


The Google Books preview contains no mention:

New Dictionary

The massive 12 volume Butler's Lives of the Saints January Volume only mentions him as a footnote (from Amazon preview):

Lives of saints january

Bernard Bangley, *Butler's Lives of the Saints, Concise and Modernized Edition

Features this entry extracted from the Amazon preview, and makes no mention:

concise lives of saints

Summary: While it's impossible to prove the statement, "Bernard of Corleone did not know the date of his death" or "No evidence exists that Bernard of Corleone knew the date of his death," I find the above compelling enough to think that there is probably not readily available and reliable evidence to support the claim.

The fact that the first book recounts a vision of Jesus gives me reason to think that if there was also evidence to support the foreknowledge of his death, it would have been included. I can't know this for sure. All I know is that five comprehensive books aimed at presenting the lives of the Saints in an inspirational manner did not list this would-be-inspiring tidbit for its intended audience (probably Catholics).

As for my method, I searched Google Books and Amazon for "Bernard Corleone" and "Philip Latini" (his pre-Capuchin monk name) and looked at pretty much all the books I could find. There were some older versions of Butler's Lives of the Saints that mentioned the name, but Google didn't have the full entry available. Current versions of Butler's Lives of the Saints, as shown above, either don't mention it or don't list him except as a footnote.

  • I still think this is a bad question - But this is a good answer for it. – Chad Jan 10 '12 at 20:03
  • @Chad: Why thank you. It was the best way I thought of to try and tackle it. Perhaps it isn't the greatest question, but it interested me, so I asked it :) – Hendy Jan 10 '12 at 20:06
  • So you think "official Vatican biography" would have been a prove of something? :) How can the absence mean anything? – user unknown Jan 10 '12 at 21:02
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    @chad: Not so; I was skeptical of the claim in general, as every instance of the claim I found was vague and non-referenced. I couldn't track down an origin, only people copying and pasting the same sentence over and over (and I mean that literally; for example). I simply wanted to know why the claim was being made in the first place. So far, I still don't have that answer. It seems like folklore; like this. – Hendy Jan 10 '12 at 22:59
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    @userunknown: I took the latter part of your question as addressed at my answer in general (as in, the collective lack of mention), not specifically the Vatican. I really don't care to give it much thought. The Vatican loves its miracles; in fact, it requires them for sainthood. Not that this is a particularly good one, but I at least find it plausible that if they had any reason of worth to think it happened, they'd have featured it in their biography. That's all I was saying. It's simply another place that is pro-Bernard, yet says nothing about this. – Hendy Jan 11 '12 at 2:30


The official biography on the Vatican site makes no mention of it. Keep in mind that if this was a "confirmed" miracle (i.e. accepted as possible by the Church) it would be definitely mentioned in it.

The (Italian-only) official site also has no mention of it.


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