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Sanctuary of the BEATO BERNARDO

Piazza Beato Bernardo - Offida (AP)

Perticolar della statua del Beato Bernardo da Offida del santuario
On the left: Statue of the Blessed Bernardo.
On the right: Main façade, church of the Beato Bernardo, 19th century

The church rises to the extreme outskirts of Offida and was built when the Capuchin monks, called by the people of Offida, came to our town for the first time.

The monks, before settling in Offida, had made an accurate survey of the area, and only then they decided to build the convent in an airy zone, with a marvellous sight of the sea and the mountains. The church was half kilometre from the main gate of the town, nearby the site where an earlier church - devoted to San Pantaleo – stood; ( at present, it is sited nearby the reception room of the monks).

Foto dell'interno della chiesa del Beato Bernardo da Offida - vista dell'Altare Maggiore
Interior of the Church. Main Altar

The construction of the new church and the convent began in 1614, after various negotiations with the local civil and religious communities. To transport the safe of material of the demolished monastery of S. Bernardo – located, in past times, down the Via lschia, the site of the present town gardens - the people of Offida used an unusual and hasty system.

In fact, in order to save time and make the construction begin as soon as possible, a passage was opened on the east side of the town walls. There, hundreds of people had lined up as far as the church of S. Pantaleo handing down to each other the stones, the bricks and the timber with such skill that the material was carried to the place - where the convent and the church would rise - in a very short time.

The laying of the cornerstone and the blessed cross took place on the 14th of November, 1614 in a solemn ceremony and, only one year later, six monks would get hold of the east part of the monastery that would have been completed in 1626.

Later on, in 1800, both the monastery and the church would be demolished.

The present church dates back to 1893. Designed by Brother Angelo of Cassiano, the church was built in order to honour the memory of Brother Bernardo that had lived in the convent of Offida for a very long time, and there he died on the 22nd of August, 1694.

The humble friar, that had distinguished himself by his wisdom and love towards the poor and the needy, was beatified by Pope Pio VI (1717-1799) in 1795. A year later, in 1796, during a trip to Italy, the great musician Joseph Haidn (1732-1809) composed the "Missa Sancti Bemardi de Offida" in his honour.

Foto dell'epoca con l'offerta dei Ceri
Offering of the candles
(Mr G. Ottavi’s photo archive)

To keep a vow made in 1855, while the cholera epidemic was sweeping Offida, the civil authorities - accompanied by the Commune valets that wore the traditional red livery - used to walk, every 22nd of August afternoon, as far as the sanctuary to offer the candles and to assist to the evening rites. The ceremony had taken place up to some years ago.

A bust of "S. Pantaleo", by Desiderio Bonfini (1570- 1630), is kept in the sacristy of the church.

Foto del Duomo di Milano
The Milan Cathedral

A statue of the Blessed Bernardo stands on one of the steeples of the Milan Cathedral.