Father Roman Bernard dies at 62
26, 2005 - Reported in ohio.com. Written by Jim Carney. Barberton
clergyman said he and others saw painting of Mary weep in '92.
The clergyman whose tiny Barberton church made national news
13 years ago when he and others said they saw an icon of Mary
will be buried Monday in Cortland. Father Bishop Roman Bernard
died late Wednesday of spinal cancer, said his attorney and longtime
family friend, John Leopardi of
The 62-year-old clergyman, known as Father Roman, was convinced
that an icon of Mary wept real tears inside his church, St. Jude's
Shrine Church at 594 Fifth Street N.E. in Barberton. Father Roman's mother, Mary Ann Bernard, died earlier this month
in a room across from his at Pleasant View Health Center. He performed
last rites on her before she died, Leopardi said. Father Roman was affiliated with the 4,000-member Orthodox Catholic
Church of North and South America.
In March 1992, one of his parishioners reported seeing a painting
of Mary -- Our Lady of Holy Protection -- weeping. The person who first reported seeing those tears was a man who
had volunteered to clean the church and who claimed the icon began
to weep after the Virgin Mary made an appearance before him. In the first weeks and months after the story hit the news media
in 1992, as many as 30,000 were reported to have stopped at the
tiny 24-seat church.
By 1997, five
years after the first sighting, Father Roman estimated 100,000
had visited the shrine. On Good Friday, two red roses were placed
in a vase in a gazebo chapel on the church's property in Barberton. Leopardi
said his friend wanted the church to go on after his death. But
know, "Leopardi said. Father Roman kept the church going with
money he inherited from his father, Leopardi said. The clergyman
"was absolutely devoted to the veneration of the icon, " Leopardi
said. "He was very religious. Very devoted to
the Holy Mother." In recent years, about $200,000 was spent to remodel the church
building, he said. The icon was Father Roman's personal possession, Leopardi said.
it and had it painted and put it in the shrine." In a 1997 Beacon
Journal interview, the clergyman talked about what happened inside
his church, a former barber shop. "Why here?" he asked . "Why not
here. Jesus was born in a stable.
Very humble surroundings. Why couldn't it happen here? We didn't
Also in that
story, Father Roman said the appearance of the weeping icon "has
changed a lot of people... God is showing us something. "With
the death this week of Father Roman, Leopardi said the icon of
Mary has been removed from the church building. But, he said, the icon will be put back in the church when he
is convinced that the facility is secure.