Passionist Blessed Bernard Mary Silvestrelli

On December 9th Passionists celebrate the feast of Blessed Bernard Mary Silvestrelli, C.P.

It was the Superior General, Father Bernard Mary Silvestrelli, C.P., who accepted the request of Cardinal Moran, Archbishop of Sydney, for the Passionists to come to Sydney, Australia, in 1887.

Now a member of the Holy Spirit Province (Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea) serves in the office of Superior General of the Passionists that was previously held by Blessed Mary Silvestrelli! – the current Superior General is Fr. Joachim Rego, C.P.

  • Blessed Bernard Mary Silvestrelli, C.P., was born Caesar Peter Silvestrelli on 7th November 1831 in the house at number 38, Minerva Place in Rome
  • He was baptised the same day in the Church of Santa Maria in Minerva, Rome. The Silvestrelli family tomb is in this Church
  • Caesar was 17 years old when his mother died and 22 years old when his father died. At his father’s funeral there were 120 Franciscans, 40 Dominicians and 80 Capuchins
  • From 1840 to 1847 he attended the Roman College of the Jesuits
  • In 1853, the year after his father’s death, St. Paul of the Cross was Beatified
  • On 21st February 1854 he entered the Passionists at Sts. John and Paul in Rome
  • On 21st March 1854 he departed Sts. John and Paul for his novitiate in Monte Argentario
  • On 7th April 1854 he received the Passionist habit at Monte Argentario
  • Before long the Novitiate records read: “Silvestrelli left on 3rd May 1854 because this life was totally wearisome for him and he was overcome with sadness”
  • He asked to be allowed to remain as a guest of the community in Presentation Retreat, Monte Argentario, while he continued his studies for the priesthood. He studied under Father Pacifico of St. Joseph and wore the ecclesiastical habit
  • From 31st June to 24th August 1855 he lived in the retreatants wing at Sts. John and Paul in Rome
  • On 22nd December 1855 he was ordained a priest by Bishop Molajoni
  • As an expression of his gratitude for their hospitality Bernard, at his own expense, restored the Chapel of the Crucified in the Church of the Presentation, Monte Argentario and built a new chapel in honour of St. Paul of the Cross
  • Bernard rejoined the Passionists and went to Morrovale for a Novitiate in 1856
  • On 27th April 1856 he received the habit again for the second time and became Bernard Mary of Jesus
  • He was professed a Passionist on 28th April 1857
  • As a sign of gratitude to the community which had welcomed him and helped him to happily succeed in his desire, Bernard presented the sacristy at Morrovale with two valuable copes, one in cloth of silver and the otherin cloth of gold
  • In January 1865 Bernard was chosen as Master of Novices at Scala Santa in Rome
  • On 20 September 1867 his brother, Luigi, died with Bernard present.  On 23rd September his brother’s body was transferred to the family tomb in the Church of Santa Maria in Minerva, Rome
  • On 27th May 1869 Bernard was elected Superior of Scala Santa. He was confirmed for another three years on 14th April 1872
  • He was elected First Consultor on 7th June 1875 and moved to Vetralla which at that time was the Provincial Residence
  • At the death of the Provincial, Father Pier Giovanni, C.P.,  in July 1876 Bernard became Provincial
  • On 4th May 1878 Bernard was elected Superior General of the Passionists. At the time the Passionists had been in existence for 158 years and were present in 8 nations
  • Bernard Silvestrelli, C.P. as Superior General accepted the request of the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal Moran, for the Passionists to start a foundation in the Archdiocese of Sydney in 1887
  • The Passionist General Chapter in 1884 re elected Bernard by acclamation
  • In 1888 Bernard resigns as Superior General – “he finds himself weakened in health and weary in spirit and therefore in need of quiet and peace
  • On 2nd January 1889 he communicates his resignation as Superior General to the Congregation
  • In August 1890, he went to Monte Argentario to the Retreat of of the Presentation. He chose one of the smallest cells on the Brothers’ corridor and “passed long hours in the church, praying before the Blessed Sacrament
  • On 3rd May 1893 he was elected Superior General once again
  • The General Chapter of 1899 confirms Bernard once again on the first vote
  • In 1905 he convoked the General Chapter with the imagery of a ship. He considered the Congregation voyaging towards port (the Chapter) in order to take on the supplies it needs for its subsequent voyage and take on a new pilot. The Chapter is a time in port to be refreshed, change pilot and resume its voyage with greater energy
  • He reminded Passionists that “love for the institute should be creative
  • On 8th May 1905 the General Chapter re elects him Superior General in the first ballot
  • Bernard develops arthrosis of the spine preventing him from freely moving his neck and legs.  He becomes psychologically weary of being so many years caught up in annoyances, troubles and frictions of the Congregation.
  • On 7th July 1907 Pope Pius X accepts Bernard’s resignation and assigned him the title of Honorary General as a sign of his great esteem
  • On 20th May 1908 the Pope nominated Bernard as President of the General Chapter beginning on 24th May
  • Bernard leaves Sts. John and Paul in Rome on 4th June 1908 for the last time
  • He died on 9th December 1911 at the Passionist Monastery at Morricone.

– Notes taken from the book “Bernard Mary Silvestrelli” by Fabiano Giorgini, C.P.

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One Response to “Passionist Blessed Bernard Mary Silvestrelli”

  1. Father Marcellus White Returns from West Hunan 1956: His relatives offer a Valentine’s Day Reflection - The Passionists Says:

    […] Passionist Blessed Bernard Mary Silvestrelli […]

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