Johannes Bernardi

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by Roger Andersson

Johannes Bernardi (d. 1445), priest brother at the Birgittine abbey of Vadstena, Sweden, 1420–1445, preacher and composer of sermons.The best studies of the life and work of Johannes Bernardi are KLOCKARS 1979 (19 ff. and 36 f.) and HEDLUND 1994 (616 ff.); they supersede the older account in SILFVERSTOLPE 1898 (129 f.).


Originally a priest from the town of Kalmar in the province of Småland, Johannes entered the male convent of the abbey as a frater sacerdos on 28 May 1420 (DV 309). He was probably born before 1395, possibly as the son of a taylor in Kalmar (KLOCKARS 1979). At Vadstena he soon became involved in the affairs of the Order. Thus, during the summer of 1426 he accompanied the confessor general Gervinus Petri to the general chapter of the Order in the German daughter house, Marienwold (DV 370, 372). Partly in opposition to the leadership of the convent, he and a few others managed to secure the holding of the general chapter of 1429 in Vadstena (KLOCKARS 1979, 21). In 1440 he belonged to the delegation sent out to Finland to establish a daughter house (DV 501), which came to be located in Nådendal, near Åbo.

Johannes returned to Vadstena in the summer of 1443, only to find that his place there had been given to another (DV 544). Therefore in May 1444 he travelled back to Finland where he stayed until his death on 20 September 1445 (DV 557). He was invited on several occasions to preach in the cathedral of Åbo (KLOCKARS 1979, 24). The Diarium Vadstenense emphasizes his skills in preaching and penmanship (qui fuit valens scolaris, predicator et dictator, DV 557).


Despite his reputation as a zealous preacher and writer, very few sermons by Johannes Bernardi are preserved. Two sermons in Uppsala, University Library, C 312 (fols. 104r–107v, 188r–191v) are copied from a sermon collection of his, now apparently lost. The contents of one of them (for Pentecost) is recapitulated and partly translated into Swedish in HEDLUND 1994 (618 ff.). Moreover, no less than eight sermons were taken down by a tachygrapher (almost certainly Johannes Borquardi, cf. Sermones Birgittini) at the time of their oral delivery on different occasions between 1428 and 1430 (recorded in C 392; cf. HALLBERG 1995, 111 ff.).


  • DV = Vadstenadiariet. Latinsk text med översättning och kommentar (Kungl. Samfundet för utgivande av handskrifter rörande Skandinaviens historia. Handlingar del 19), ed. C. Gejrot, Stockholm 1996.
  • HALLBERG, H. 1995: “Reportaciones Vadstenenses – über das Predigen im Kloster Vadstena um 1430,” in A Catalogue and its Users. A Symposium on the Uppsala C Collection of Medieval Manuscripts (Acta Bibliothecae R. Universitatis Upsaliensis 34), ed. M. Hedlund, Uppsala, 101–14.
  • HEDLUND, M. 1994: “Nya vägar in i medeltiden. Om C-samlingen i Uppsala universitetsbibliotek,” HistTF 79 (1994:3), 602–20.
  • KLOCKARS, B. 1979: I nådens dal. Klosterfolk och andra c. 1440–1590, Stockholm.
  • SILFVERSTOLPE, C. 1898: Klosterfolket i Vadstena. Personhistoriska anteckningar (Skrifter och handlingar utgifna genom Svenska Autografsällskapet 4), Stockholm.