Friday, December 23, 2016
Munio of Zamora: 7th Dominican Master

Continuing my articles on the Masters of the Dominican Order, we arrive at the 7th Dominican Master: Munio of Zamora.  Munio of Zamora governed the order after Blessed John of Vercelli.  Munio governed the Order of Preachers from 1285 - 1291 AD. 

For a quick recap on the previous Masters of the Order, please click here.

Born in 1237 in Zamora, Spain, few details are known of Munio's early years.  Remarkably along the Masters of the Order of Preachers who preceded him, Munio had no academic formation at one of the great universities in either Italy or France.  His talent was in Administration, as he had developed a reputation as an exceptional administrator for his role as Prior Provincial in his own country in 1281.

Despite some opposition to him among the Chapter of the Order in Bologna in 1285 due to his lack of studies, he was ultimately elected as the Master of the Order.  In fact, it would seem that it was surely Divine Providence who brought forth a great administrator for the benefit of the Order.  The Order had grown remarkably quickly and there was minimal training among the members.  Discipline was becoming a concern for the Order as men began to join the Order and insist they already had the ability to preach and would not permit themselves to be restricted by the Order from doing so their own way.

Munio strongly advocated poverty among those in the Order, as he issued the following statement shortly after his election: "May the zeal of the Order revive in you all! For I tell you with a heart filled with bitterness that, among many of you, this zeal has lost its first vigor."

Fellow 3rd Order Dominican Teritaries owe great respect to Munio as it was he who offered an opportunity to lay people and secular clergy, who had been independent until then, to adopt a rule of life and to be placed under the jurisdiction of the Dominican Order. Shortly after his election as Master, Munio promulgated the Rule of the Brothers and Sisters of Penance of the Blessed Dominic (Regula Fratrum et Sororum Ordinis de Paenitentiae Beati Dominici) for this very purpose. 

After the election of Pope Nicholas IV to the papacy, rumors and stories about Nicholas' past started to circulate in Rome. Among them were the charges that he had been elected thanks, in large part, to the manipulations and bribery of his patron, King Sancho IV of Castile, and Munio was alleged to have been part of the conspiracy.

Pope Nicholas IV asked Munio to resign yet in the General Chapter of 1290, Munio was re-elected and praised by the Order for his reputation for abstinence.  Thereafter, Pope Nicholas offered Munio the role as Archbishop of Compostella if he resigned.  Munio responded by saying he would do so if it was the will of the Holy Father.  But Pope stepped aside from making a decision until a year later when he issued a papal bull on April 12, 1261, removing Munio from office. 

Exhausted after a life of service to the Order and after these trials, Munio was made Bishop of Palencia and served in the office just two years before retiring to the Monastery of Santa Sabina in Rome.  He spent the remainder of his life there and died on February 19, 1300.  His body is today in the Basilica of Santa Sabina.

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