Born to the nobility, the eldest of nine children, he grew up with a speech impediment. He joined the Order of Friars Minor, taught, and was later ordained. His speech impediment was miraculously cured and he became a travelling preacher throughout Italy. Bernadine was noted for his fiery sermons against moneylending. He organized more than thirty “monti di pieta” (charitable credit organisations run on a non-profit basis) throughout Italy to give people an alternative to high-interest lenders.
Patron of bankers and pawnbrokers.