Today is a very special feast in the Franciscan Family! St. Berard and companions lived at the time of St. Francis. They were sent to try to convert the Muslims in Morocco. After preaching to the sultan, he became very angry with them. The friars were tortured in unspeakable ways. After that, they actually tried to bribe them with money, wives, and power. They refused and continued to try to teach the sultan about the truths of the Church and God.
The sultan was so angry that he ended up killing them himself on January 16, 1220. After St. Francis heard of the martyrdom, he said, "Now I can truly say that I have five Friars Minor!" It's amazing -- when the relics of these martyrs were being carried through Portugal, St. Anthony of Padua (who was an Augustinian at the time) was inspired to become Franciscan! He wanted to be a martyr too.
These martyrs were canonized in 1481. May we allow God to use us in powerful ways as well! Lord, open our hearts to your amazing ways!