Friday, October 28, 2016
Blessed Jordan of Saxony: 2nd Dominican Master

As a Third Order Dominican, I was surprised with the lack of information on many of the Masters of the Order of Preachers, founded by St. Dominic in 1216.  I have written before on the holiness of our Father Dominic and you may read my full post by clicking here.  Also, I have written a lesson on St. Dominic that I also recommend for those wishing to learn much more on the life of St. Dominic.

But what happened to the Order of Preachers after the death of St. Dominic in 1221?

I was surprised that even Wikipedia lacked articles on many of the Masters of the Order.  As a result, I will be starting a series of posts exploring the lives of the Masters of the Order.

After St. Dominic's death in 1221, the Dominicans were led by Blessed Jordan of Saxony who ruled the Order from 1222 until 1237.  A good resource on the life of Blessed Jordan is the Libellus of Blessed Jordan of Saxony, and Saint Dominic's Successor: The Life of Blessed Jordan of Saxony by Marguerite Aron is also a worthy read, for those who can find book, which was written in 1955.

Written to fellow Dominicans, Fr. Joret in "Our Dominican Life" writes of Blessed Jordan's encounter with St. Dominic:
Jordan of Saxony had been studying in Paris for ten years when St. Dominic arrived in that city. The young man sought him out and received an impression which was never effaced. Not till much later did he receive the habit actually at the hands of Blessed Reginald. Only once more, and then for a very short time, did he see St. Dominic. Nevertheless, he used always to speak of him with emotion as " the father of his soul."
And yet we still feel his impact in our lives since he is the reason why the Salve Regina is sung after Compline.  Fr. Joret continues later in his text:
" Jordan of Saxony, who succeeded St. Dominic, recognizing," says Gerard de Frachet, " the interest taken by Our Lady the Blessed Virgin Mary in the progress and preservation of the Order, was determined to rule only with her assistance." History has preserved for us some touching traits of his devotion to Mary. " He was wont to spend the night in prayer before her altar," says the same chronicler, " repeating the Ave Maria often and very slowly. Brother Berthold was anxious to know his methocl of prayer. In reply to his disciple's inquiry, the Master told him, among other things, that he was in the habit of honouring the Virgin by reciting five psalms, each one of which began with a different letter of her name. " That is just an example, my son," he added. Would that he had given a few more examples, simpler ones ! We should then have known exactly what the Rosary was at that period. It was Jordan of Saxony who instituted the solemn procession to the altar of Our Lady which we make every evening as we sing the Salve Regina. We all know how the diabolical assaults upon the Friars in Paris and Bologna were ended through this prayer, proffered by all to her who had crushed the serpent's head. The diabolical machinations were succeeded by glorious manifestations of the Blessed Virgin who thus consecrated the practice that had been established in her honour.
The custom of singing this anthem goes back, as has been already said, to the very early days of the Order. A truly diabolical persecution was raging against the Friars, especially at Bologna and in Paris. BlessedJordan of Saxony, St. Dominic's successor, gave orders for the singing of the Salve every night after Compline. The persecution immediately ceased, but its very cessation  served to establish the practice, which became general. The faithful, especially the Tertiaries, crowded into the churches of the Preachers to see the Friars leave the choir and come into the nave, singing the Salve Regina. The chant is a melancholy one, plaintive yet unaffected. A solemn procession of souls who pass mourning through this vale of tears, but who are upheld and comforted by a celestial hope. Is not the Queen of Heaven also a Mother of mercy ? She looks down from above upon her exiled sons, and she makes herself their advocate with God. One day she will show them her Son. And the thought of that vision which will constitute their eternal bliss already gives them a sense of exquisite sweetness. Upon arriving at the Lady Altar, the Friars kneel to sing Eia ergo, advocata nostra. Then one of them comes out to sprinkle the rest with holy water, one by one, in memory of the time when the Holy Virgin was seen by St. Dominic to go the round of the cells, sprinkling each brother as he lay asleep. clemens, o pia, o dulcis Virgo Maria. When they utter that beloved name, the Friars bow deeply, as though a great gust of wind were bending them all at the same moment. Those Tertiaries who cannot have the advantage and the joy of taking part in this conventual ceremony may like to think of it at night, as they recite the Salve, or as they take a little holy water with which to bless themselves before going to bed.
 Fr. Joret further writes in "Our Dominican Life":
In letters addressed to Blessed Diana and her daughters of the convent at Bologna, Blessed Jordan of Saxony called upon them in all confidence to pray for the Order that the brethren might increase in numbers and in virtue. Shortly afterwards he congratulated them upon the magnificent result of their prayers. " Rejoice and give thanks a thousandfold to the Father of all Goodness. . . . Disappointed at realizing that I had been preaching for a long time with little or no result to the students of the University, I was contemplating departure when suddenly God deigned to stir the hearts of a considerable number of them, and to fertilize the ministry of my word by the outpouring of His grace. Ten have already taken the habit." At a later date he writes : " Your prayers and those of the sisters have been wonderfully answered : our friars are multiplying throughout the world and increase in number and in merit."
From these letters we see the great concern for the Order in Blessed Jordan and the odor of sanctity that seemed to emanate from him.A final worthy meditation is this letter from Blessed Jordan to Blessed Diana of Andalo.  This letter was written shortly before both of their deaths.  May they intercede for us in Heaven and soon be declared saints!
"To his dearest daughter Diana, at Bologna: Brother Jordan, useless servant of the Order of Preachers: salvation and the continual friendship of Jesus Christ.

Since, my dearest Sister, it is not possible, as we should both wish, to visit you with my bodily presence and to console myself in your company, I yet find some refreshment and relief for my heart's desire when I can visit you by means of a letter, writing to let you know how things are with me, as I would like to know concerning you, for your progress and your joy are sweet nourishment for my spirit. But you do not know with any certainty to what ends of the earth it may fall to my lot to journey, and if you did know, you would not find messengers who would bring me your letters. Yet what we have written to each other, my beloved Sister, is a very small thing; the ardent love with which we love each other in the Lord is in our inmost hearts; and in this intimate affection of charity you speak with me and I with you continually, things which no tongue can worthily express or letter contain.

O Diana, the present condition of our life which we have to bear is wretched, since in this life we cannot love each other without pain or think of one another without anxiety. For you are pained and troubled because it is not granted to you to see me continually, and I suffer because [the joy of ] your presence is too seldom granted to me. Who will lead us into the Strong City, into the city of the Lord of Hosts which the Most High himself founded, where we shall suffer no more from longing either for him or for one another? Here we are wounded daily and the very fibres of our being wrenched asunder, and each day these very miseries of ours make us cry out: 'Who will deliver us from the body of this death?' Yet we must patiently bear with this life and, as far as our daily poverty will allow us, fix our mind solely on him who alone is able to deliver us from our necessities, in whom alone is rest found, and apart from whom, whatever we contemplate, we shall find only tribulation and abundance of sorrow. Meanwhile, let us accept with joy whatever share of sadness falls to our lot; for in the same measure that tribulations have been meted out to us will joy be measured to us, poured into us by the Son of God, Jesus Christ, to whom is honour, glory, power and empire for ever and ever. Amen.

Pray for me, as I know you do. Greet the Prioress for me, and Galiana. Greet our special friends outside the convent and very specially those who are in the house with you, if they happen to come and see you, and recommend me to their prayers.

Farewell, beloved daughter, in Jesus Christ the Son of God."
Blessed Jordan was shipwrecked and drowned on February 13, 1237. He was beatified in 1825 by Pope Leo XII. Let us pray for the canonization of this holy Master of the Dominican Order.  St. Jordan pray for us!


O God, who didst make Blessed Jordan wonderful for his zeal in saving souls and enriching religious life, grant by his merits and intercession that we may proclaim the way of salvation and ever live in the same spirit and find glory awaiting us in Heaven. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayer Source: Little Office According to the Dominican Order. Feastday February 15th.

Note: Those who would like a PDF copy of "Our Dominican Life," please send me an email and I will send it to you.

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