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Thursday, November 10, 2016
John of Wildeshausen: 4th Dominican Master
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Continuing my articles on the Masters of the Dominican Order, we arrive at the 4th Dominican Master: John of Wildeshausen, who like Blessed Jordan of Saxony, came from Saxony.  John governed the order from 1241 - 1252 AD. 

To recap, the first three Masters of the Order of Preachers were:
  1. Our Holy Father St. Dominic
  2. Blessed Jordan of Saxony
  3. St. Raymond of Penafort 
After the resignation of St. Raymond of Penafort from the rank as Master of the Order to pursue parish work, John of  Wildeshausen shortly thereafter succeeded the saint.

John was born in Wildeshausen in modern-day Germany in 1180. At a young age, it was soon clear that John had an astute mind, so he went to Bologna to advance in his studies.  It was during this time that John forged a friendship with Emperor Frederick II of the Holy Roman Empire, who was then just a teenager.  John entered the imperial court but not long thereafter left and returned to Bologna.  It was here through Divine Providence that he came to know of the Order of Preachers.

In late 1220, John received the habit of the Order from the hands of St. Dominic himself.  Almost immediately after, John was sent out to preach throughout northern Italy, France, Germany, and Austria.  In much the same fashion as the Apostles, he preached the Gospel everywhere he went on foot and did not cease of spreading the truth of the universality of the Catholic Faith.

In 1233, after having preached a crusade to the Holy Land in southern Germany and then serving as Prior Provincial, John of Wildeshausen was named Bishop of Bosnia.  Yet, he did not leave his missionary zeal and would travel throughout his Diocese on foot preaching the Gospel.  He would journey with a small donkey who carried his books and vestments.  John never ceased of preaching or doing charity, and used the revenues of the diocese for the care of the poor and for their souls.  In 1237, he retired from the office and renounced his pension.  He return to his monastery in Strasbourg.

But the will of God was not for John to have completed his work.  From 1238 to 1240, John was able to carefully negotiate between Emperor Frederick and the Prior Provincial of Lombardy, without angering each side.

Then in 1240 when St. Raymond of Penyafort resigned the role of Master Generate, a General Chapter of the Order met in Paris on May 19, 1241.  It was then that John was chosen as the new Master General.  As Master General, he continued his preaching on foot throughout Europe while maintaining good relations with the Papal Curia.  Under his time as Master General, the Order completed a number of liturgical texts as well.  It was John that provided for the standardization of the Dominican Liturgy.

John of Wildeshausen passed from this world to the next on November 4, 1252. While not canonized, John was considered a saint during and after his life.  Documents were drawn up by his successor, Blessed Humbert of Romans, with the goal of seeking his canonization. His cause however did not advance and in the 16th century, in the course of the Protestant Revolution, the Priory Church of St. Bartholomew where he was entombed was seized by French Huguenots, and the interior was gutted by their vicious attacks against the Church of God. 

Let us pray that at long last this holy man will be canonized a saint.  John of Wildeshausen, pray for us!

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