A fine di riposo sempre affanno
E zappo in acqua, e semino in su rena;
E la speranza mi lusinga e mena
D'oggi in domane, e cosí passa l'anno.
E son canuto sotto questo inganno
Senza poter ricogliere un dí lena.
Gli uomini avari dormono con poco sonno. SAN BERNARDINO**
A GREAT deal of Fra Bernardino's life was spent in a society ruled by values very different from his own, but which he felt bound to try to influence: those of the world of trade. The great merchants of Florence and the lesser merchants of Siena, who had in their hands the reins of the Commune and of the guilds, and the humbler shopkeepers and craftsmen, struggling for a bare living in their little shops, formed, with their wives and daughters, the great majority of his congregation: it was their hearts -- beneath the crust of covetousness and competitiveness, of avarice and pride -- that he must try to reach.
In laying down the rules that he expected them to follow during that singularly difficult period of transition between the simpler economic life of the Middle Ages and the birth of modern capitalism, he was greatly assisted by the training in both secular and canon law which he had received in his youth. His view of what was licit or not was based on the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas and of John Duns Scotus, but he was also conscious of the swift changes taking place before his eyes, and he attempted to reconcile them, whenever possible, with the fundamental principles of the Church. He devoted no less than twenty-three of his Latin sermons to the subject of economics1 and in addition he preached three sermons in Italian on dishonest trade to the Florentines in 1424 and