Educational: Blessed Venturino of Bergamo, O.P. (1304-1346)

Venturino of Bergamo was a Dominican preacher and missionary crusader. A native of Bergamo, Italy, he joined the Order of Friars
Preachers and received the habit at the convent of St. Stephen in Bergamo on January 22, 1319. He was ordained at Genoa in 1328. He joined the Dominican congregation of the Pilgrim Brothers and started for the
Eastern missions, but was forced to remain teaching and preaching in Italy. He had a reputation for holiness and was involved in the political­ religious problems of his times.

He was emaciated and high­ strung and spoke vividly in quick Latin or vernacular. His rich
spiritual life, given expression in his treatise De profectu spirituali, suggests the mystical idea of penance propagated by Saint Vincent Ferrer, O.P. He founded the monastery of nuns, St. Mary's in Bergamo. From 1328 to 1335 he soon distinguished himself as a brilliant preacher, attracting huge crowds throughout northern Italy.

Pleased with his ability to reach large numbers of believers, he announced in February of 1335 his intention to go on a pilgrimage to Rome with about thirty thousand of his converts. His purpose was misunderstood, and when Pope Benedict XII, then residing at Avignon, learned of the pilgrimage, he feared Venturino might be planning to crown himself pope, and so forbade the friar to proceed. Thus, his Holiness wrote letters to Giovanni Pagnotti, Bishop of Anagru, Venturino's spiritual vicar, to the Canons of St. Peter's and St. John Lateran's, and to the Roman senators empowering them to stop the pilgrimage.

This decree was joined by one issued by the Dominicans themselves at the Chapter in London (1335) condemning such pilgrimages. However, the pope's letters and commands did not reach Venturino, and he arrived in Rome on March 21, 1335. He was well received, and preached in various churches. Twelve days later he left Rome, without explanation, and the pilgrimage ended in disorder.

In June, he requested an audience with Benedict XII at Avignon; he was seized and cast into prison (1335-1343). He was restored to favour by Pope Clement VI, who appointed him to preach a crusade against the Turks on January 4, 1344; his success was remarkable. He urged the pope to appoint Humbert Il of Dauphine, whose friend and spiritual adviser he had been, leader of the crusade, but Humbert proved incapable and the crusade came to nothing. Venturino's writings consist of sermons (now lost) and letters. He died at Smyrna. The title "Blessed" is sometimes given him, but he was never formally beatified. ffis feast day is March 28.

-compiled from www.newadvent.org, www.catholic.org, & New Catholic Encyclopedia