Saint Bernardino of Siena, Priest (1380-1444): The Iconography

St. Bernardino was a popular Franciscan preacher in 15th-century Italy. Among other things, he preached devotion to the name of Jesus and would display it in the form of a monogram set in a shining sun, as seen at left. The monogram was based on "IHC," the first three letters of Jesus' name in Greek, although in the monogram the third letter is always rendered "S."  Most images have the saint displaying the monogram on a small tablet that he holds up for the viewer to see (example). This was in fact his practice when preaching.1

The three mitres in the painting at left represent the dioceses of Siena, Urbino, and Ferrara. At various times the saint was offered the office of bishop in all three of these, but he refused in order to continue his missionary work throughout Italy.2

St. Bernardino is typically shown in his Franciscan habit (note the cincture with three knots), as at left.

Feast day: May 203

At left, El Greco's painting of St. Bernardino

Other images:
15th-century painting with the tablet
18th-century Santo in Barcelona cathedral

Statue with the tablet and the mitres
With other saints:
With St. Helena in The Invention of the True Cross


1Butler II, 355.
3My apologies to earlier readers of this page, which incorrectly gave the date as July 2.