Bernardino was born the son of the governor of Massa Marittima, Italy, and was orphaned at the age of seven. He was cared for by a relative until he was accepted into the Confraternity of the Blessed Virgin at the age of seventeen. Bernardino served as an administrator of a hospital caring for plague victims before joining the Franciscan order. More than a dozen years later, Bernardino felt a pull to minister to the public. Saint Bernardino's first public address was in the city of Milan and drew the admiration of the large crowd that stopped to listen; he had found his calling. The future saint traveled throughout Italy on foot to preach in every town and village he entered. He was well known for his emotionally stirring sermons and his one prop - a sign with the name of Jesus, IHS, inscribed upon it.