Ignazio da Asti Bernardino was an Italian author of an early Catholic missionary manual. Bernardino arrived at Luanda, in present-day Angola, as a Capuchin missionary in 1741. Two years later he was sent north to the principal mission, Soyo, which had been without a missionary for sic months following a dispute with the ruler. He was instructed to abandon the Soyo mission should the situation prove impossible, but with the help of a strong, loyal corps of Kongolese interpreters, teachers and servants of the mission, he successfully continued the work. He acted as vice-prefect in Luanda from August 1746 to June 1748. While at Soyo he was cured from an eye illness through a miraculous intervention by his former novitiate master, Ignatzio de Santhià. In 1749 he returned to Italy, where he presented two memoranda to Propaganda Fide and composed Missione in practica, a missionary manual. In March 1750 he was assigned to Bahia, Brazil, where he died.
Bernardino’s manual was finally published in 1931 with a French translation but with its authorship wrongly attributed. Written as pious advice for those intending to be missionaries, it nevertheless provides fascinating, intimate insights into the daily life of the Soyo mission in the mid-eighteenth century.
T. Filesi and Isidoro de Villapadierna, La “Missio Antiqua” dei Cappuccini nel Congo (1978); J. Nothomb, ed., La pratique missionnaire des PP. Capucins Italiens dans les royaumes de Congo, Angola et contrées adjacentes (1931).
This article is reproduced, with permission, from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, copyright © 1998, by Gerald H. Anderson, W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.