Showing posts with label Master of the Order of Preachers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Master of the Order of Preachers. Show all posts
Friday, October 19, 2018
Aymeric of Piacenza: 12th Dominican Master

Continuing my articles on the Masters of the Dominican Order, we now arrive at the 11th Dominican Master: Bernard de Jusix.   For a quick recap of the previous Masters of the Order, please click here.

Aymeric of Piacenza governed the word from 1304 until 1310.  He succeeded Bernard de Jusix who ruled just a few years.  The governance of Aymeric brought more stability to the order compared with the quick turn-over of the Masters before him. 

Aymeric entered the Order of Preachers and soon after arrived in Milan to pursue his studies where, providentially, he formed a close relationship with the man who would later become Pope Benedict XI in 1303.  Aymeric taught philosophy and theology for 24 years before becoming the Provincial of Greece.  In 1304 in Toulouse at the General Chapter, in an act of humility, he renounced his office.  In the response to such an act, he was unanimously chosen as the successor to  Bernard de Jusix as the Master of the Order.

Highlights from his governance of the order included the relegation of studies in areas most affected by the Fraticelli.  The Fraticelli were known as the "Spiritual Franciscans" who were extreme proponents of the rule of Saint Francis of Assisi, especially with regard to poverty; they regarded the wealth of the Church as scandalous and that of individual churchmen as invalidating their status. The Dominicans countered this movement which was declared heretical in 1296 by Pope Boniface VIII.  He also joined Pope Clement IV in 1309 regarding the examination of the Templars.  Shortly there afterward, he resigned his position in 1310 to avoid the displeasure of Clement IV, whose policy Aymeric did not always agree with. He later died on August 19, 1327.

He is reputed to have authored a treatise against the heretics of his era as well as works on dogmatic and scholastic questions.  Let us pray for the repose of the soul of Aymeric of Piacenza and all Dominicans.  

Pater Noster. Ave Maria. Requiem aeternam.

The source of his life comes from (Ed. Reichert, Rome, 1900), which forms the fifth volume of the "Monumenta Hist. Fratr. Praed." (181-202).
Monday, March 27, 2017
Bernard de Jusix: 11th Dominican Master

Continuing my articles on the Masters of the Dominican Order, we now arrive at the 11th Dominican Master: Bernard de Jusix.   For a quick recap on the previous Masters of the Order, please click here.

Bernard de Jusix governed the Order for only a few short years from 1301 to 1303.  In fact, little is known on Bernard de Jusix of certainty.  A quick internet search reveals little on his life.

In "The Dominicans" by Benedict M. Ashley, he writes of this era: "In these complex times Dominican community life suffered one of its sharpest declines in the Order's whole history. Although by 1303 it had reached 20,000 friars, the Black Death carried away a third and perhaps a half." Furthermore, he writes, "For the first half of the century the General Chapters were hampered by the rapid turn-over of Masters. Albert Chiavari (1300) died after three months. Bernard de Jusix in two years..."

Yet by the grace of God the Order of Friar Preachers spread and continues to serve the True Faith.

Let us pray for the repose of the soul of Bernard de Jusix and all Dominicans.  

Pater Noster. Ave Maria. Requiem aeternam.
Monday, March 13, 2017
Albertus de Chiavari: 10th Dominican Master

Continuing my articles on the Masters of the Dominican Order, we now arrive at the 10th Dominican Master: Albertus de Chiavari.  Albertus governed the Dominican Order after Nicola Boccasini (Pope Benedict XI), left the role when he was elected as the Supreme Pontiff.

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

Albertus de Chiavari governed the Order only for less than one year.  In fact, little is known on Albertus of certainty.  A quick internet search reveals nothing on his life.  

Let us pray for this "forgotten" Dominican and all those in the past ages who have no one to pray for them now.

Pater Noster. Ave Maria.
Thursday, February 16, 2017
Nicola Boccasini: 9th Dominican Master

Continuing my articles on the Masters of the Dominican Order, we arrive at the 9th Dominican Master: Nicola Boccasini.  Nicola Boccasini, who would become Pope Benedict XI, governed the order after Stephen of Besançon.

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

Blessed Pope Benedict XI was born Nicola Boccasini in 1240 in Treviso, Italy, in the Holy Roman Empire.  He would live 64 years until his death on July 7, 1304.  

At a young age, his father died and left his mother, Bernarda, a widow.  It was at that time a Dominican friar left a sum of money in his will to Bernarda and the children.  And part of the will stipulated that if Nicola were to enter the Dominican Order, he would receive half of the legacy.  Bernarda worked as a laundress for the Dominican Friars in Treviso so the family was well familiar with the Order.

Even at a young age, the future Pope Benedict XI was preparing for a life of a monk.  His teacher was his uncle who was a priest of St. Andrea. And in 1254, at the age of 14, Nicola entered the Order of Preachers.   For the next seven years, Nicola pursued his basic education in Venice. In 1262, Nicola was transferred to Milan where he spent the next six years of his life.  At that time, he became a professed member of the Dominican Order. He served as lector for fourteen years, from 1268 to 1282.

The next greatest change took place in 1286 when Fr. Nicola was elected the Provincial Prior of Lombary. Instead of being firmly attached to a single convent for years, he would instead become peripatetic, moving from one convent to another on visits of inspection, encouragement and correction. In Lombardy at the time there were some fifty-one convents. After his tiring three year term was completed in 1289, he was released from the office of Provincial of Lombardy.  However, he was elected Provincial Prior of Lombardy again at the Provincial Chapter held at Brescia in 1293.

In 1296, Nicola was elected as the Master of the Order of Preachers, a role he would serve in until 1303.  During this same time, on December 4, 1298, he was made a Cardinal by Pope Boniface VIII.  He also served as Papal Legate to France.

When Pope Boniface VIII was seized at Anagni in September, 1303, Nicola was one of only two cardinals to defend the Pope in the Episcopal Palace itself.  He would be imprisoned for three days before being liberated.

On October 22, 1303, Nicola was elected to succeed Boniface VIII as the Supreme Pontiff. He took the name Benedict XI and reigned not one year until his death on July 7, 1304. Historians speculate he may have been poisoned.  It was after his death that the Papacy moved to Avignon from Rome and thus began the long and trying time known as the Avignon Papacy.

Pope Benedict XI, the first Dominican Pope, was widely regarded for his holiness.  And in response to his life and the miracles attributed to pilgrims who journeyed to his tomb, Pope Clement XII beatified him on April 24, 1736, and assigned his feastday to July 7th.

Blessed Pope Benedict XI, 9th Dominican Master, pray for us!

Pater Noster.  Ave Maria.
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Stephen of Besançon: 8th Dominican Master

Continuing my articles on the Masters of the Dominican Order, we arrive at the 8th Dominican Master: Stephen of Besançon.  Stephen of Besançon governed the order after Munio of Zamora

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

Stephen, who was born in c. 1250 in the Free Imperial City of Besançon, which was a self-governing city in the Holy Roman Empire from 1184 until 1654.  He began his studies in 1273.  He graduated in 1286 with a Bachelor of Theology in Biblical Studies and two years later earned his Masters from the world renowned Theology program at the University of Paris.

In 1291, Stephen was made a Prior Provincial of Northern France and then in 1292 he was elected as the Master General of the Order of Preachers.  As the Order had slowly drifted from its original severity, he sought to restore that Order under his rule. On November 22, 1294, while on his way back to Rome for a canonical visitation of the priories of the Order, Stephen died in Lucca in Tuscany.

May his soul rest in peace.  Pater Noster.  Ave Maria.
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.
Saturday, December 10, 2016
Blessed John of Vercelli: 6th Dominican Master

Blessed John of Vercelli: Dominican Friar, Priest, Master of the Order, pray for us!

Continuing my articles on the Masters of the Dominican Order, we arrive at the 6th Dominican Master: Blessed John of Vercelli.  Blessed John governed the order after Blessed Humbert of Romans resigned his position due to failing health.  Blessed John governed the Order of Preachers from 1264 - 1283 AD. 

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

Concerning Blessed John, Fr. Gabriel Gillen wrote a concise yet inspiring overview of his life.  That summary is as follows:
John was a native of Vercelli and qualified at Paris as a doctor both of civil and canon law. While he was carrying out this office at Vercelli, encouraged by the Master General Jordan, he entered the Order of Preachers. Later he founded a convent there, which he also governed as prior. Afterwards, while most religiously ruling the Province of Lombardy, he was in the year 1264 elected as sixth Master General of the Order. Austere with himself, gentle towards others, he quickly visited nearly all the Order’s convents in Europe, and for almost twenty years labored fruitfully and attentively for the good of the whole Order. Furthermore, he made out an agenda for the Second Council of Lyons and at the request of Pope Gregory X zealously propagated the practice of showing reverence to the name of Jesus. John strenuously upheld the reputation and teaching of Thomas Aquinas. Averse to honors and unremitting in his work, he died peacefully at Montpellier. The devotion shown to him from time immemorial was confirmed by Pius X.

It should further be mentioned that Blessed John, when joining the Dominican Order, was received by Blessed Jordan of Saxony, the 2nd Master of the Order, early after the Order's formation.  After becoming a friar, he was transferred to Bologna, Italy where he studied History and the Theology of the Order before being ordained a priest in 1229.  He went on to be an exquisite preacher throughout Bologna.

It was upon his return to Vercelli in 1232 that he established a Dominican Priory and served as its Superior.  While in northern Italy, he fought many heresies and became the friend of King St. Louis IX of France and of St. Thomas Aquinas.  Reflecting on our Lord's words in the Beatitudes praising peacemakers, Blessed John shined as a brilliant peacemaker between Venice and the Papal States during this period.

It was then in 1264 he became the Master General of the illustrious Order founded by St. Dominic.  As Master General, he insured uniform liturgical celebrations throughout the Order and also served at the Papal Court of Pope Clement IV.  After the death of Pope Clement, and upon learning that he was being considered to fill the shoes of the Pope, Blessed John fled the city in humility.  Thus, Pope Gregory X was elected instead.

According to tradition, during the translation of the relics of Saint Dominic in 1267, when the body was exposed to view, the head was seen to turn towards Blessed John. Embarrassed, John moved to another part of the church, giving his place to a cardinal. The head of Saint Dominic was seen by all to turn again toward John.

While still Master of the Order of Preachers, in 1274, Blessed John founded what would eventually become the Confraternity of the Most Holy Name of God and Jesus (Holy Name Society).  In 1278, he was appointed the Archbishop of Jerusalem, but he was released from this responsibility after pleading for it on account of his ill health and advanced age. 

At last on November 30, 1283, Blessed John passed from this life to the next in Montpelier, France due to natural causes.  He was buried at the Dominican convent there but in 1562, the Calvinist heretics desecrated the Church and his body was lost.  It was in 1903 that Pope St. Pius X beatified him.


God of power and mercy, you made Blessed John an outstanding promoter of the order of Preachers. By his remarkable zeal, his wonderful prudence and his courage, and with the help of his prayers may your family always and everywhere be governed by beneficial rule. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. – General Calendar of the Order of Preachers 
Thursday, November 24, 2016
Blessed Humbert of Romans: 5th Dominican Master

Continuing my articles on the Masters of the Dominican Order, we arrive at the 5th Dominican Master: Blessed Humbert of Romans.  Humbert governed the order from 1254 - 1263 AD.

To recap, the first four Masters of the Order of Preachers were:
  1. Our Holy Father St. Dominic
  2. Blessed Jordan of Saxony
  3. St. Raymond of Penafort 
  4. John of Wildeshausen 
Born in Romans-sur-lsere, France in 1190 AD, little is known with certainty of Blessed Humbert's early life.  Blessed Humbert studied canon law at the University of Paris.  On November 30, 1224, Blessed Humbert, known for his piety, joined the Dominican Order, although he had for some time considered following his brother into the Carthusian Order.

After entering the Order of Preachers, Blessed Humbert was appointed as a Lector of Theology at the Dominican Priory in Lyon in 1226, and in 1237 he became prior of that monastery.  Thereafter, in 1240, he was appointed as the Prior Provincial of Tuscany.  In 1244, he returned to France and served as Prior Provincial there succeeding Hugh of Saint-Cher.  Hugh left the position after he was made a Cardinal - the first Dominican Cardinal.

Then, in 1254, Blessed Humbert was elected as the Master General of the Order of Preachers.  His initial work was the re-organization of the Order's Liturgy.  He issued a new edition of the Order's Constitutions and he issued new Constitutions for all nuns.  Blessed Humbert also instituted the collection of information on both St. Dominic and St. Peter of Verona with the intention of using these materials to seek both of their canonizations.

In 1255, he adjudicated a dispute on the Constitution of the Carthusians, and he would in the next year become the godfather of one of the children of St. Louis IX of France.  Blessed Humbert further encouraged the missionary activities of his friars and he encouraged the schools in Spain to teach Oriental languages.

Under his period of rule, the Dominican Order flourished in Italy, Germany, Spain, France, and England. Humbert sent missionaries to the Greeks, Hungarians, Saracens, Armenians, Syrians, Ethiopians, and Tartars. He regulated the liturgy of the Divine Office, determined the suffrages of for the dead, commanded the history of the Order be recorded, and even issued minute decrees concerning the election of superiors, the reading of the Constitutions at meals, the transfer of friars from one house to another and other pertinent regulation.  On the reorgnization of the Liturgy, Fr. Joret writes:
At the Paris Chapter of 1256, Humbert issued to the Order his annual encyclical in which he announced the completion of the liturgical reform. A monumental volume, a masterpiece of Parisian book production in the middle of the thirteenth century, was composed to be the model to which all copies must conform. Deposited at first in the College of St. Jacques de Paris, the most important house of the Order, it is to-day in Rome amongst the general archives of the Friars Preachers. Finally, in 1267 Clement VII gave his approval to our liturgy. Since then it has undergone no important modification. When Pius V in 1570 imposed on the entire Church the breviary and Roman missal, he made an exception for the liturgies which were more than two hundred years old. The Dominican liturgy was one of these.
In 1263, largely on the account of his failing health, Blessed Humbert resigned his position as Master of the Order.  On July 14, 1277, the holy Dominican Master passed from this life to the next.  His feastday is July 14th.  May he soon be declared a saint!

The Dominican Order as it currently exists owes much to the leadership of Blessed Humbert.   One of the great hallmarks of the Dominican Order is its love and focus on studying.  Blessed Humbert was instrumental in the focus on studying as he said, 'Our Order is the first to have thus linked study to the religious life, prius habuit studium cum religione conjunction" (Humbert, Opera, t. II, p. 29). Speaking of the Blessed Virgin, Humbert said, "Our Preacher never cease praising her, blessing her and preaching her when they preach her Son" (Humbert de Romans, Opera, Vol. II, p. 71).

For your edification, please consider reading the "Treatise on Preaching" as written by Blessed Humbert.  The Text is available online by clicking here.
Thursday, November 10, 2016
John of Wildeshausen: 4th Dominican Master

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!
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.
Sunday, January 7, 2007
St. Raymond of Peñafort: Third Dominican Master

Optional Memorial (1969 Calendar): January 7
Semidouble (1955 Calendar): January 23

St. Raymond was born in 1175 at Peñafort, Catalonia, Spain to noble parents. He became a philosophy teacher around the age of 20 and later a priest. St. Raymond joined the Dominicans in 1218. In 1230, he was summoned to Rome by Pope Gregory IX and assigned to collect all official letters of the popes since 1150. St. Raymond gathered the letters and published five volumes.

In 1238, St. Raymond became the Master general of the Dominicans. After reviewing the Order's Rule, to ensure everything was legally correct with Church law, he resigned his position in 1240 in order to dedicate himself to parish work. He declined the offer to become archbishop too in order to focus on the parish work he loved in Spain.

His compassion helped many people return to God through Reconciliation - the Sacrament of Confession. St. Raymond started started a school to teach missionaries the language and culture of the non-Christians needing to be evangelized in Northern Africa and Spain. Along with St. Thomas Aquinas, he wrote a booklet to explain the truths of faith in a way nonbelievers could easily understand.

He died on January 6, 1275, in Spain of natural causes.

Dom Gueranger writes of him in his work "The Liturgical Year." The following is an excerpt:
St Raymund has the honour of having been intrusted to draw up the Church's Code of Canon Law. It was he who, in the year 1234, compiled, by order of Pope Gregory the Ninth, the five Books of the Decretals; and his name will ever be associated with this great work which forms the basis of the actual discipline of the Church. 
Raymund was a faithful disciple of that God who came down from heaven to save sinners by calling them to receive pardon. He has merited the beautiful title, conferred on him by the Church, of excellent Minister of the Sacrament of Penance. He was the first who collected together into one body of doctrine the maxims of Christian morality, which regulate the duties of the confessor with regard to the faithful who confess their sins to him. The Sum of Penitential Cases opened the series of those important treatises in which learned and holy men have carefully considered the claims of law and the obligations of man, in order to instruct the Priest how to pass judgement, as the Scripture says, between leprosy and leprosy. 
In fine, when the glorious Mother of God, who is also the Mother of men, raised up for the redemption of captives the generous Peter Nolasco—whom we shall meet, a few days hence, at the Crib of our Redeemer—Raymund was an important instrument in this great work of mercy; and it is with good reason that the Order of Mercy looks upon him as one of its Founders, and that so many thousand captives, who were ransomed by the Religious of that Order from the captivity of the Moors, have honoured him as one of the principal authors of their liberty.

O God, Who didst choose blessed Raymond to be eminent as a minister of the Sacrament of Penance and dist lead him in wondrous wise upon the waves of the sea: grant that by his intercession we may be able to bring forth worthy fruits of penance, and to reach the port of everlasting salvation. Through our Lord.

Prayer Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal
Tuesday, August 8, 2006
St. Dominic

Greater Double (1955 Calendar): August 4
Memorial (1969 Calendar): August 8

Today is the feastday of St. Dominic de Guzman, popularly known just as St. Dominic, the one that received the Rosary from Mary. Today is a wonderful day to learn why and how to pray the Rosary. St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort wrote: "The rosary is the most powerful weapon to touch the Heart of Jesus, Our Redeemer, who loves His Mother."

St. Dominic was born in 1175 in Castile, Spain, to the illustrious Guzman family to Blessed Joan of Aza and Felix Guzman. While pregnant, Blessed Joan of Aza dreamed that she would bear a son who would be a shining light to the Church. She also dreamed that she gave birth to a dog that broke away from her with a burning torch in its mouth by which it set fire to the world. This dog became a symbol of the Dominican order that St. Dominic would found in 1215. She also dreamed that her child had bright star on his head that enlightened the world.

At the age of seven, he went to study with his uncle, who was a priest. At the age of fourteen, St. Dominic enrolled in the University of Palencia. He began many years of studying for the priesthood. During his studies, St. Dominic immersed himself in the Holy Scriptures. And when Spain was ravaged by war and famine in 1195, he sold everything he owned to bring relief to the destitute.

St. Dominic was an Augustian and worked for clerical reform. By age 26, St. Dominic was fighting the Albigensian Heresy, which taught that there are two Gods, marriage is a sin, and denied the Trinity, incarnation and redemption. While many others had failed to stop the spread of the heresy, St. Dominic succeded. In 1208, St. Dominic knelt in the little chapel of Notre Dame de La Prouille and asked Mary, the Mother of God, to save the Church. She appeared to him with a Rosary and instructed him to pray the Rosary, teach it to all who would listen, and she said that the true faith would win out. It was during one of the famous battles in southern France against the Albigensians, when St. Dominic revived the courage of the Catholic armies to victory against overwhelming numbers; he had the Rosary in his hand the entire time.

In 1215, St. Dominic founded the Order of Preachers (Dominicans), a group of men that were to live a simple, austere life; he also created an order of nuns dedicated to the care of young girls. Soon afterwards, the Pope commissioned Dominic to establish a group of friars at the Church of St. Sixtus in Rome. By 1219, forthy men resided in the foundation in Rome.

By Lent, 1219, St. Dominic had persuaded forty-four sisters to unite in one community thankfully. St. Dominic along with three cardinals received the sisters' profession on Ash Wednesday. Tragically, during the ceremony, news reached a cardinal there that his nephew, Napoleon, had died after falling from his horse.

Dominic immediately had the corpse carried into the chapel, and celebrated Mass with the cardinals, nuns, and friars in attendance. When he finished the Mass, he stood over Napoleon's broken body and straightened his limbs. St. Dominic then blessed the corpse, and with hands raised to heaven, he shouted, "Napoleon, in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, arise." In the view of many reliable witnesses, the young man then arose. [Source: Mystics and Miracles by Bert Ghezzi, Loyola Press, Chicago, IL, 2002]

One of his religious daughters, Cecilia Cesarini, describes St. Dominic in the following way: "The Blessed Dominic was of medium height and of slight build. His countenance was beautiful, of fair complexion, with light auburn hair and beard and luminous eyes. A kind of radiance shone from his brow, inspiring love and reverence in all. Full of joy, he seemed ever ready to smile, unless moved to pity by the affliction of his neighbor. His hands were long and shapely; his voice strong, noble, and sonorous. He never was bald, and his corona was complete, sprinkled with a few white hairs."

Legend says that St. Dominic received a vision of a beggar who, like Dominic, would do great things for the Faith. St. Dominic met this beggar the very next day. He embraced him and said, "You are my companion and must walk with me. If we hold together, no earthly power can withstand us." The beggar was Saint Francis of Assisi. (Above image: Vision of St. Dominic and Meeting of St. Francis and St. Dominic by Benozzo Gozzoli, 1452)

St. Dominic reportedly brought four people back from the dead during his life. He died on August 4, 1221, at Bologna, Italy. St. Dominic is the patron saint of astronomers, scientists, the Philippines, and the Dominican Republic. His remains are in the Basilica of San Domenico.

Fausto Appetente Die:
The seventh centenary approaches of the day when that light of holiness, Dominic, passed from these miseries to the seat of the Blessed. We for long have been most interested in his clients, especially since We assumed the government of the Church of Bologna, which with the greater devotion preserves his remains. We, therefore, are pleased to be able from this Apostolic See to exhort the Christian people to celebrate the memory of such a great man. In this We not only consult Our own piety but fulfil a duty of gratitude towards the father and lawgiver and towards the distinguished Order he founded.
Encyclical of Pope Benedict XV promulgated on June 29, 1921.


O God, Who hast vouchsafed to make Thy Church illustrious by the merits and teaching of blessed Dominic, Thy Confessor: grant that, through his intercession, she may not be deprived of temporal help, and may ever advance in spiritual increase. Through our Lord.

Prayer Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal

Image Source (1st image): St Dominic of Guzman by Claudio, Coello Spanish painter, Madrid school (b. 1642, Madrid, d. 1693, Madrid - Oil on canvas, 240 x 160 cm Museo del Prado, Madrid

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