El servo tuo, Signor beato, Non può stare piú celato Che tu l'hai manifestato Al grande e al piccolino. LAMENT FOR SAN BERNARDINO*
HARDLY had Fra Bernardino closed his eyes, than the struggle began as to which city should have the honour of preserving his body. His companions, after weeping for the father they had lost, washed and dressed him, according to the custom of their Order, in another habit, so that they might take home the one he was wearing when he died. Then they placed the body in a rough coffin, nailed it down, wrapped it in a cloth, and were proposing to steal away with it secretly at night, to take it back to Siena.
Someone, however, gave away their plan and at once the people of Aquila hurried to San Francesco, obliged the friars to hand over the coffin to them, and, having drawn out the nails, carried it from his cell to the church. Here the tiny body was exposed to the veneration of the faithful, who kissed Fra Bernardino's hands and feet, and even placed rings upon his fingers. At once, too, the story of the miracles that were taking place spread through the city - the first being granted to two paralysed boys who regained the power to walk, and within the next few days, as the whole population of Aquila hastened to kneel before the corpse, the number of miraculous healings rose to thirty.1 Thus a prediction in Fra Giuliano's letter was fully confirmed. "I said to the people here," he wrote, "on the night of Fra Bernardino's death, 'Wait and see, he will work miracles.'" And he also added, If you don't pay him all the honours you can, Messer Domeneddio will soon miraculously remove his body somewhere else!"2
So great was the crowd that the Bishop sent for a guard of soldiers,