St. Dominic: Biographical Documents
- The Libellus of Jordan of Saxony
- The Letters of St. Dominic
- The Process of Canonization at Bologna
- The Process of Cannonization at Toulouse
- The Nine Ways of Prayer for St. Dominic
- The Miracles of St. Dominic
- The Bull of Canonization of GREGORY IX
- Prayer to St. Dominic
- The Bulls of Approbation
- The Encyclical Letter of Jordan of Saxony
- The Primitive Constitutions of the Order of Friars Preachers
THE LIBELLUS OF JORDAN OF SAXONY
Of all the source materials concerning the life of St. Dominic and the origins of the Dominican Order, Jordan of Saxony’s work is not only the earliest, but is also the most authentic. It has, therefore, influenced all subsequent works on the Order. Happily, Blessed Jordan’s authorship is beyond question. In him we have a firsthand witness and a first-class writer, for he was, on the one hand, a Master of Arts and a grammarian, and, on the other, St. Dominic’s contemporary and his immediate successor as Master General of the Order. Jordan wrote his work sometime between December 25, 1231 (date of the death of Bishop Foulques of Toulouse, mentioned in no. 39) and the canonization of St. Dominic on July 3, 1234; probably during 1233.
There were apparently two editions of Blessed Jordan’s Libellus, the second being enriched by some few additional details. The account of the transference of St. Dominic’s remains, however, is of a different nature. It was written by Blessed Jordan after he had personally presided as Master General over the translation. It is not known when or how this narrative was joined to the Libellus.
Probably it was written by Jordan as an encyclical letter to the entire Order soon after the canonization of the Founder (July 3, 1234); certainly it was written before Jordan’s tragic death by shipwreck while he was returning from the Holy Land in late 1236. This addition serves as an excellent complement to the Libellus.
Blessed Jordan did not rely on his personal experience. Still living at the time when he wrote were Bertrand of Garrigua, Peter Seila, and John of Navarre, three friars who had belonged to the original group organized by Saint Dominic and who testified at his process of canonization. Other important witnesses were close to Jordan in Northern Italy. Furthermore, as Master General, his constant tours of visitation to the houses of the Order, as well as the yearly meetings of the general chapters, gave him many opportunities to meet friends and acquaintances of St. Dominic. From these numerous witnesses, Jordan did not collect, as we might expect, picturesque anecdotes; nor did he preserve for posterity personal traits or utterances of the Founder. He had quite another purpose in mind: the task he set himself was to record the origins of the Order of Preachers and the foundations of its subsequent growth.
Consistent with his purpose, Jordan noted with precision every important date and every decisive turn of events, highlighting with a few chosen words the essential facts and their significant results. The Libellus, then, is not strictly a life of St. Dominic, as it might well have been. It is much less a panegyric of the Saint. It is precisely what it was intended to be, namely, a chronicle, but it involves an extended description of Saint Dominic’s life and activities as Founder.
Blessed Jordan was a keen and sensitive observer. What is more, he was a reporter of unswerving honesty and good taste. The same could be said, also, of the witnesses upon whom he relied. If his long experience in positions of responsibility did not make Jordan infallible, at least it assured the Dominican Order of a history solidly grounded in fact.
We have made our translation from the Latin text edited by H. C. Scheeben in Monumenta Ordinis Fratrum Praedicatorum Historica, XVI, 25-88.
Peter of Ferrand’s Legend (1)
Peter of Ferrand, a Spaniard, became the second biographer of St. Dominic. In an effort to adapt the Libellus of Blessed Jordan for liturgical use, he revised Jordan’s work sometime between 1237 and 1242. He eliminated some details not immediately concerned with St. Dominic, substituting for them data on the life of the Founder drawn from traditions of his native Spain, Bologna, and southern France. These included such details as the name of Dominic’s parents, stories of his childhood, some of his deeds in Spain, elements solely for the sake of edification, and the official list of miracles from the process of canonization.
Constantine of Orvieto’s Legend
Constantine was a Roman Dominican who later became bishop of Orvieto. He was commissioned by the general chapter of 1245 to revise the work of Peter of Ferrand and was provided by Master General John the Teuton with new data for the purpose. This material consisted in accounts of miracles gleaned from Spain, southern France, Rome, Bologna, Sicily, and Hungary. The work was completed three years later and was approved by the general chapter together with an office of St. Dominic composed by Constantine. History gained little from Constantine’s work. Its list of twenty-two miracles worked by St. Dominic during his lifetime and twenty-three worked after his death clearly serves the author’s principal aim: to edify his readers.
Other Dominican Documents
The author of the definitive “legend” of St. Dominic was Blessed Humbert of Romans, the fifth Master General. Humbert compiled his work mostly from the texts of Peter of Ferrand and Constantine of Orvieto for the purpose of inserting it into the prototype volume of Dominican liturgical books, which was approved by the three consecutive general chapters of 1254, 1255, and 1256.
Bartholomew of Trent was a thirteenth-century hagiographer, who wrote saint’s lives for the use of preachers, and compiled his collection between 1245 and 1251. He gained new information from some of the early friars of the Order with whom he was acquainted and searched out a few additional details from other sources.
Like Bartholomew, Rodrigo of Cerrato leaned heavily on earlier biographers of St. Dominic when he wrote his life of the Saint. However, he made some original contributions by going to Dominic’s birthplace, sometime between 1270 and 1280, to seek out any memories of him which still survived.
Stephen of Bourbon and Thomas of Cantimpré, like Bartholomew of Trent, collected edifying anecdotes about saints for the use of preachers. Although they wrote about the middle of the thirteenth-century and may have known early Dominicans, there is hardly any original material in their stories about St. Dominic.
The famous Lives of the Brethren, the whole second part of which is devoted to Saint Dominic, might have profited from the wide experience of its author, Gerard of Frachet. Although he served as provincial and, at various times, as delegate to general chapters, Gerard did not fully utilize these opportunities to gather information. He was content merely to edit and publish a series of accounts which friars had sent to him in answer to appeals made in the general chapters of 1255 and 1256. Two chronicles of unknown origin are often appended to the Lives of the Brethren.
In 1278 Stephen of Salagnac published an encomium of the Dominican Order entitled, “The Four Things in Which God Has Distinguished the Order of Preachers.” This work had its remote origin in Stephen’s conversations with Peter Seila, St. Dominic’s first recruit, and Abbot Aimery of Grandselve, a Cistercian friend of the Saint.
The last of St. Dominic’s thirteenth-century hagiographers was the German Dominican, Dietrich of Apolda, whose voluminous work was sponsored by Master General Munio of Zamora. He finished it about 1298, after Munio had ceased to be Master General, and dedicated it to his successor, Nicholas Boccasini. Apart from the reorganization of the materials supplied by his predecessors, Dietrich added little to our knowledge of the life of St. Dominic.
Because of their exceptional value, we shall note the principal documents written by non-Dominicans which tell us something of St. Dominic.
Peter of Vaux-de-Cernai, a Cistercian who wrote a Historia Albigensis, was just a little too late to witness personally the events of 1206 to 1208 which he relates. His work remains, nevertheless, highly valuable because of his close acquaintance with his uncle, the Bishop of Carcassonne, and with St. Dominic.
Though William of Puylaurens wrote some forty or fifty years after the events he records, he was a scholarly cleric who fully certified everything he recorded. As a child he had lived through the Albigensian Crusade. Later he was employed by Bishop Foulques and subsequently served as chaplain to Count Raymond VII of Toulouse. William’s impartiality is particularly remarkable.
Robert of Auxerre’s Chronology is a work which has been called “one of the most precious historical compilations the Middle Ages has handed down to us.” One reason for this is that Robert wrote while many of the events he recorded were taking place. He devotes at least one page of the Chronicle to the events in southern France during the years 1207-1208, including the famous miracles whereby St. Dominic’s book was ejected intact from the fire into which it had been thrown three times.
Prologue to a History of the Beginnings of the Order of Preachers
1. To the sons of grace and co-heirs of glory, all the brethren, Brother Jordan, their unprofitable servant, sends greetings and prays that they may attain joy in their holy Profession.
2. Many of the brethren have requested an account of the beginnings and institutions of this Order of Preachers, through which God’s plan has provided against the perils of these latter days, as well as a description of the first brethren of our Order, as to how they grew in number and became strengthened through grace. Recently these matters have been investigated and made known by the brethren who were present from the very beginning and saw and heard, the venerable servant of Christ, Master Dominic, the original founder of this religious order, as wen as its first Master and brother, who, while living among sinners in the flesh, conversed piously with God and the angels. He kept the precepts, zealously observed the counsels, served his eternal Creator with all his faculties, and lit up the hideous darkness of this world by his blameless life and the celibacy of very holy fellowship.
3. Therefore, having put all the facts into right order, it has seemed to me fitting to put them down in writing. Although I was not one of the very first brethren, yet I enjoyed their companionship and frequently saw, as well as intimately knew, the Blessed Dominic, both outside and within the Order, since I went to him for confession and, on his advice, accepted the office of deacon and, four years after he had established the Order, I received this habit. It has seemed to me I say, that the things I personally saw and heard, as well as learned from the first brethren, about the life and miracles of this saintly man, our Father Dominic, as well as the lives of certain other brethren, should be set down in writing, as occasion brought them to the fore of my memory. In this way, the children who will be born and spring up will know about the first beginnings of this Order. Otherwise, as time rolled by, if no one could be found to relate anything definite about these beginnings, their desire to know its history would be frustrated. Therefore, dearly beloved brothers and sons in Christ, since the following facts have been gathered in one way or another for your consolation and edification, accept them in a spirit of devotion and stir up a desire to emulate the first charity of our brethren.
About Diego, Bishop of Osma
4. There lived in Spain a venerable man named Diego, bishop of the church of Osma. The worldly nobility of his birth was crowned by his knowledge of sacred letters and by a signal integrity of virtue. This love for God so completely absorbed him that, abandoning himself and seeking only the things that are Jesus Christ’s he turned his mind and effort to one main task, namely, how to become such a dealer in souls as to return to his Master, with manifold interest, the talent entrusted to him. For this purpose he used every available means to draw to himself, wherever they could be found, good and virtuous men whom he endowed with benefices and established in the church which he governed. Those of his own flock who were more inclined to the world than to holiness he persuaded to lead a more devout and virtuous life, and confirmed his words by the example of his own life. Hence it happened that he took pains to urge his canons, by frequent admonitions and salutary exhortations, to agree to observe a canonical religious life under the Rule of St. Augustine. This he did with such fatherly solicitude that, although some were opposed to it, he finally disposed their hearts to his desire.
Blessed Dominic and the Character of His Youth
5. During this time a boy named Dominic was born in this diocese in the town of Caleruega. Before his mother conceived him, she saw in a vision that she would bear in her womb a dog who, with a burning torch in his mouth and leaping from her womb, seemed to set the whole earth on fire. This was to signify that her child would be an eminent preacher who, by “barking” sacred knowledge, would rouse to vigilance souls drowsy with sin, as well as scatter throughout the world the fire which the Lord Jesus Christ came to cast upon the earth. From infancy this child was carefully reared by his parents and a maternal uncle, an archpriest who lost no time training him in the practices of the Church. In this way the child, whom God had destined to be a vessel of election, was from his earliest years pervaded with an odor of holiness which always clung to him.
His father’s name was Felix and his mother’s Jane. (F. 4).
He was born of devout and reputable parents (Frachet II, 1). When he was still a baby under the care of a nurse, he was often caught getting out of his bed as though he already hated the delights of the flesh. He preferred the floor to the bed as a source of bodily repose. And from that time on he had the practice of refusing the softness of the bed and slept most frequently on the floor. From his very childhood, divine grace was working in him and promoting his spiritual progress. Born of pious parents and trained with a recognition that matters of religion are the most important, the boy started to manifest his talents, as having received from the Lord a good soul which abounded in sweet blessings. His father was Felix, his mother’s name was Jane. His father was an honorable man, having considerable property in his town. His mother was honorable, pure, prudent, full of compassion for the unfortunate and the afflicted; and she excelled all the other women in that area by her good reputation (Cerrato no. 2). His mother was most merciful. Once it happened . . . that the venerable Felix, Blessed Dominic’s father, went on a trip … Noting the misery of the afflicted and having already given them many of her goods, his mother completely distributed to the poor a huge jar . . . of wine which she had and this was known throughout the whole area. When, returning, her husband was near Caleruega, his neighbors went to meet him. Some of these persons were whispering about the wine given to the poor. When he reached his home, he told his wife to have the neighbors present receive wine from the aforementioned jar. Fearing considerable confusion for herself, she quickly went to the cellar where the aforementioned wine was, and, kneeling, asked the Lord, saying: “Lord Jesus Christ, although I am unworthy to be heard on the basis of my merits, Yet hear me for the sake of your servant, my son, whom I have given over to your service.” For the mother knew the holiness of her son, and rising, fully confident, she went immediately to the jar and found it full of wine. Giving thanks to the Giver of all Graces, she had this wine served abundantly to her husband and others, and everyone was surprised (Cerrato, no.4).
In a village of Spain called Caleruega, in the Diocese of Osma, there was, in the year of Our Lord’s Incarnation 1170, a man called Felix, and he married a women by the name of Jane. They were reputable according to worldly status, and devoted in Christian piety before God (Apolda, p. 562D).
He had two brothers, both unusually virtuous. One of them, a priest entirely devoted to works of mercy in a hospice for the poor, was known for his miracles during and after his life. The other brother, whose name was Mannes, led a saintly contemplative life. After serving God for a long time in the Order, he died a peaceful death. There were also two nephews, both of whom led a holy and praiseworthy life in the Order (Frachet, II, 1).
Brother Mannes died in Spain and was buried there in a monastery of the White Monks where he is held in memory for his virtues and miracles. He is venerated there as a saint and his body rests in a place of honor near the altar in an honorable tomb. (Frachet II, 1). Now that Brother Mannes was a fervent preacher of honorable moral conduct, meek, humble, gay, and benign. He died in the monastery of St. Peter of Gumiel and was buried with honor in the church of that monastery (Cerrato, no. 51).
Even as a child not yet beyond a nurse’s care he often forsook his bed and, as though already beginning to distrust the pleasures of the flesh, chose rather to lie on the ground than rest in bodily comfort on his bed. From this grew his custom of shunning the softness of beds and sleeping most often on the ground (F. 5).
6. In due time he was sent to Palencia for instruction in the liberal sciences, which flourished there in those days. When he was satisfied that he learned them sufficiently wen, he abandoned them for something on which he could more profitably spend his limited time here on earth and turned to the study of theology. Now he began to have a strong savor of the word of God as of something sweeter than honey to his mouth.
7. To these sacred studies he devoted four years, during which he learned, with such continual eagerness, to drink from the streams of Sacred Scripture that, in his untiring desire to learn, he spent his nights with almost no sleep at all and the truth which he heard made its way into the deep recesses of his mind, where it was held fast by his memory. Indeed, the things which he easily understood were watered by the pious bent of his mind and blossomed into salutary works. In this he was blessed, according to the statement of Truth in the Gospel: “Blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it.” For, whereas there are two ways of keeping God’s word, namely, one whereby we store in our memory whatever we hear, and the other whereby we put into practice what we have heard (and none will deny that the latter is more commendable, inasmuch as it is better to sow grain than to keep it stored in the barn), this happy servant of God failed in neither. His memory, which was a storehouse of divine things, fruitfully spilled out from this to that, and his external words and character clearly bespoke what lay hidden within his sacred breast. Because he embraced the Lord’s commandments with such burning love and listened to the Spouse’s voice with the very pious approval of his good will, the God of the sciences increased his grace, so that he became able, not only to receive the milk of doctrine, but also to make a deep penetration of difficult questions through the humble understanding of his heart and consume the more solid food of mystery with sufficient ease.
8. From his earliest days he had a good disposition and his infancy augured a greatness which his future would reveal. He did not engage in play or join those who walk in frivolity, but, after the example of gentle Jacob, he avoided the rovings of Esau, preferring not to leave the bosom of Mother Church and the familiar tabernacles of a quiet, holy life. You could see at once the child and the man, since the fewness of his years showed his childhood, but his maturity of conduct and firmness of character bespoke the adult man. He eschewed the attractions and follies of the world in order to walk in the perfect way. To the end he kept the bright ornament of virginity unspotted for his Lord, the lover of poverty.
His Mothers Vision During His Childhood
9. Even during Dominic’s childhood, God, Who knows the future beforehand, was pleased to intimate that something remarkable was to be expected of this child. In a vision he was shown to his mother as having the moon on his forehead, to signify that he was destined to be a light to the gentiles, to illumine those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, as later events proved.
To his spiritual mother at Baptism it seemed that the infant Dominic had a star on his forehead . . . This woman was of the nobility (F. 6).
What He Did for the Poor During a Famine
10. While he was a student at Palencia, a famine arose and almost all Spain was stricken. Being moved with pity for the poor at the sight of their misery, he resolved at once to put into practice our Lord’s counsel and do all he could to relieve the wants of the dying poor. He sold all his belongings, even his books, which he very much needed in that city. Establishing a center for almsgiving, he distributed his goods and gave them to the poor. This example so stirred the souls of his fellow-students and masters in theology that, seeing how stingy their own help had been in comparison with this young man’s liberality, they began to give alms in greater abundance.
How He was Called to the Church of Osma
11. While this man of God was disposing his heart to ascend step by step and make daily progress from virtue before the eyes of men, among whom he shone as the morning star in the midst of a cloud by reason of his innocent life, reports about him reached the Bishop of Osma, who, after carefully verifying all that he heard, summoned Dominic and made him a Canon Regular of his church.
12. At once he began to shine as a special star among the canons. His humble heart and extraordinary holiness made him an odor of life unto life among them and as sweet-smelling frankincense in summertime. They marvelled at his rapid progress in religious observance and made him subprior, so that, from this pinnacle, he might shine before the eyes of all and influence them by his good example. Now, as a fruitful olive-tree and as a cypress rearing itself on high, he frequented the church day and night. He prayed without ceasing and, making use of the leisure afforded for contemplation, he scarcely ever left the monastery grounds. God gave him the singular gift of weeping for sinners, the wretched, and the afflicted, whose sufferings he felt within his compassionate heart, which poured out its hidden feelings in a shower of tears.
13. It was his custom to spend his night-watches in prayer and, having shut the door, to pray to the Father in secret. At times during his prayer he betrayed the feelings of his heart with groans and sounds which could not be stifled and could be heard from a distance, His frequent and special prayer to God was for the gift of true charity capable of laboring for and procuring the salvation of men, since he deemed that he would be a true member of Christ only when he could devote himself entirely to winning souls, like the Lord Jesus, the Savior of all men, Who offered Himself completely for our salvation. He loved to read the book called the Conferences of the Fathers, which deals with vices and with all matters of spiritual perfection. The paths of salvation outlined therein he carefully studied and tried to imitate with all the strength of his soul. Along with the help of grace, this book refined the purity of his conscience, intensified the light of his contemplation, and raised him to a high level of perfection.
How the Bishop of Osma Took a Journey to the Marches
14. While the beauty and embraces of Rachel thus held him captive, Lia took it ill and importuned him to soften the reproach of her bleareyedness by raising up children to her. Thus it happened that Alphonse, King of Castile, was, at that time, making plans for a marriage between his son Ferdinand and a princess of the Marches. He approached the Bishop of Osma and asked that he consent to arrange the matter. The Bishop agreed to the king’s request and, since it was fitting that he have a companion suited to his holy state, he took with him the man of God, Dominic, the subprior of his church, and set out on his journey.
15. When they reached Toulouse, they discovered that many of its people had for some time been heretics. Dominic’s heart was moved to pity at the great number of souls being so wretchedly deluded. At the inn where they found shelter in Toulouse, Dominic spent the entire night fervently exhorting and zealously arguing with the heretical innkeeper, who, no longer able to resist the wisdom and the spirit that spoke, returned by God’s grace to the true faith.
16. They left Toulouse and, after many hardships, reached the place where the girl lived. After explaining their mission and obtaining the consent of the parties concerned, they hurried back and Bishop Diego told the king of their success. Then the king sent him back with a more magnificent retinue, so as to show all possible honor to the girl who would return with them and marry his son. After a strenuous journey, he and Dominic reached the Marches only to learn that the girl had died. However, God had Planned to reap other benefits from this journey, since, as events proved, it paved the way for a more excellent marriage, a union between God and the souls recalled from the errors of their sins to the nuptials of eternal salvation.
How the Bishop of Osma Visited the Pope and What They Discussed
17. After sending the news to the king by messenger, the Bishop, taking advantage of this opportunity, went with his clerics to the Roman Curia. When he saw the Supreme Pontiff, the Lord Innocent, he at once begged of him, if it were possible, permission to resign; he alleged that he had too many shortcomings and that the immense dignity of the office was far above him. He intimated to the Supreme Pontiff, also, that his heart’s desire was to convert the Cumans, on whose behalf he would like to labor diligently, if his resignation were accepted. But the Pope did not grant these petitions, or even the further request that he be allowed to remain a bishop while permitted to enter Cuman territory and preach. Thus, by God’s hidden design, the labors of this saintly man were being reserved for an entirely different harvest.
How the Preachers came into Albigensian Territory. In the year of the Incarnate Word 1206 Diego, Bishop of Osma, an eminent man worthy of renown, visited the Roman Curia with the intention of resigning his bishopric, so that he could be free to go among the pagans and preach the Gospel of Christ. But the Lord Pope Innocent was unwilling to grant the holy man’s request and instead commanded him to return to his own see (Cernai).
How This Bishop Took the Cistercian Habit
18. On his return journey, he visited a Cistercian monastery where he observed the life of many servants of God. Attracted by the loftiness of the religious state, he took the monk’s habit and, accompanied by many of the monks under whose instruction he would learn their type of life, he began his journey to Spain. But at that time he little knew the obstacles God would put in his way before he would reach his destination.
The Advice He Gave to Those Sent by the Pope
19. At the time the Lord Pope Innocent had directed twelve abbots of the Cistercian Order to take each a companion and preach the faith against the Albigensian heretics. Thereupon the abbots held a council with the archbishops, bishops, and other prelates of that region to discuss the most suitable means of fruitfully fulfilling the mission now entrusted to them. (2)
20. During these discussions, the Bishop of Osma happened to reach Montpelier, where the council was being held. He was received with honor and was invited to give his advice, since they knew that he was a saintly man, mature and just, and zealous for the faith. But, being circumspect and versed in God’s ways, he began to inquire about the ceremonies and customs of the heretics. Then he commented that the methods these heretics were using to convert souls of their perfidy by persuasion, preaching, and the example of their false holiness were in striking contrast to the stylish and expensive carriages and furnishing displayed by those who had been sent. “This is not the way, my brethren, this is not the way for you to proceed. I do not think it possible, by words alone, to lead back to the faith such men as are better attracted by example. Look at the heretics! While they make a pretense at piety, while they give counterfeit examples of evangelical poverty and austerity, they win the simple people to their ways. Therefore, if you come with less poverty and austerity, you will give hardly any edification, you will cause much harm, and You will fail utterly of your objective. Match steel with steel, rout false holiness with the true religion, because the arrogance of these false apostles must be overthrown by genuine humility. Was this not the way whereby Paul became unwise, namely, by enumerating his true virtues and recounting his austerities and dangers, in order to burst the bubble of those who boasted about the merits of their holy lives?” So they asked him, “What is your advice, then, good Father?” and he answered, “Do what I am about to do.” And the spirit of the Lord entering into him, he called the men he had with him and sent them and his carriages and furnishings back to Osma, and kept only a few clerics as his companions. After that he announced that his present intention was to spend some time in that region to spread the faith.
And this was the cause for instituting our Order. I heard this from the first brethren who were in that territory with Blessed Dominic (Bourbon, n. 83 [cf. n. 251]).
21. Among those the Bishop kept with him was the subprior Dominic, whom he regarded highly and loved greatly. This was Brother Dominic, the founder of the Order of Preachers and its first friar, who, from that moment, began to be called, not subprior, but Brother Dominic. He was a true Dominic “man of the Lord”, protected by the Lord, innocent of sin; a true man of the Lord, adorned with every virtue of the Lord.
22. After the abbots who had been sent heard this advice and saw the example set by the Bishop, they agreed with him and sent back each to his own monastery whatever seemed superfluous, keeping only the books they would need for the divine office, study, and disputations. Taking the Bishop as their superior and head of the whole affair, they began to go on foot without purse and, in voluntary poverty, to preach the faith. When the heretics saw this, they, too, began to preach more vigorously.
On his return journey from the Curia the Bishop of Osma reached Montpelier where he met the saintly Arnold, the abbot of Citeaux, as well as Brother Peter of Castelnau and Brother Ralph, Cistercian monks, all legates of the Apostolic See seeking to renounce the legacy enjoined upon them out of sheer discouragement, since they could attain nothing or hardly anything in preaching to the heretics. Whenever they began preaching to the heretics, the latter would taunt them with remarks about the scandalous lives of the clergy; so, if they wanted to correct the way of life among the clergy, they would have to give up their preaching.
The aforementioned bishop, however, offered them an effective solution to their dilemma by warning and counselling that, forgetting everything else, they should concentrate all their ardor on preaching. Moreover, to shut the mouths of their detractors, they should go forth humbly, doing and teaching according to the example of their Holy Master, go on foot without gold and silver, and thereby imitate the manner of the Apostles. However, since all this was something new, the above mentioned legates were not in favor of undertaking it by themselves. So they answered that if someone with due authority were willing to show them the way, they would gladly follow him. What else was there to do? The man of God offered himself, and soon, sending his carriages and his entire retinue to the city of Osma, he kept one companion and, with the two frequently mentioned legates, namely, the monks Peter and Ralph, he left Montpelier. The Cistercian abbot, however, returned to Citeaux, both because the general chapter of the Cistercians was to be held in the near future, and because, upon the completion of the chapter, he would return with some of the abbots of his Order who would help carry out the duties of preaching assigned to him (Cernai).
Concerning the Lord Diego, Bishop of Osma, and St. Dominic, His Companion, Sent to Preach Against the Heretics. Moreover, in those days, the Lord God Himself, Who keeps His select arrows in the quiver of His Providence, brought forth two select pugilists for this work from Spain, [namely], the Lord Diego, Bishop of Osma, and a religious man, later declared a saint, his companion, Dominic, a canon regular in his church. These two prelates, then, stretched forth their hands for great things. Having gathered to themselves abbots of the Cistercian Order and other good men, they began to attack the superstition of heretics glorying with the pride of Satan. They did not proceed with ostentation or an abundance of horses, but, in all humility, abstinence, and patience, walked without shoes and stockings from town to town for indicated disputations (Puylaurens, c. VIII).
23. Then public disputations refereed by approved judges were frequently held at Pamiers, Lavaur, Montreal, and Fanjeaux. On established days these were attended by rulers and magistrates and their wives, as well as by all of the common people who wanted to attend a disputation of the faith.
Now, leaving Montpelier, the bishop of Osma and the aforementioned monks came to a certain town called Servian, where they encountered a heresiarch named Baldwin, as well as a certain Theodoric, a son of perdition and a stalk [ready] for the eternal fire. Born in France of a noble family, he was [for a while] a canon at Nevers. But later on, when his uncle, who was a knight and a heretic of the worst sort, had been condemned for heresy by a council at Paris in the presence of Cardinal Octavian, legate of the Apostolic See, he recognized that he could no longer conceal himself. He went to the area about Narbonnaise, where he was admired and held in great affection by the heretics, both because he seemed to be a bit cleverer than the others and because they could boast of having had, even in France (which was regarded as the fountainhead of learning and of the Christian religion), a fellow believer and spokesman for their perfidy. We should not fail to mention that, although his name was formerly William, he now wished to be called Theodoric. After disputing for eight days with these two adversaries (Baldwin and Theodoric), our preachers were able, by their salutary admonitions, to turn the disgust of all the people of the aforementioned town against the heretics. Indeed, they would have most willingly banished them from their midst; but the Lord of the town, infected with the perfidious poison [of this heresy] took [the] heretics into his home and made them his friends. Now it would take a long time to give a complete account of that disputation, but I deem it worthy to add this only, that when the venerable bishop led the aforesaid Theodoric to the very brink of his conclusion, Theodoric remarked, “I know, I know of what spirit you are. Surely you have come in the spirit of Elias.” To this the holy bishop [replied], “And if I have come in the spirit of Elias, you have come in the spirit of the Antichrist.” When the eight days were over, the venerable men left the town followed by the people for almost a whole league.
Now, taking a direct route, they arrived at Béziers, where, disputing and preaching for fifteen days, they strengthened the faith of the few Catholics there [and] confounded the heretics. However, the venerable bishop of Osma and Brother Ralph advised Brother Peter of Castelnau to leave them for a while; they feared that Brother Peter might be killed, so intensely did the heretics hate him. Accordingly, Brother Peter left the bishop and Brother Ralph for a while. But they left Béziers and, after a successful journey, came to Carcassonne, where they spent eight days in preaching and disputation (Cernai).
Moreover, one of the first meetings [with the heretics] was [held] at Verfeuil, where very many heresiarchs, namely, Ponce Jourdain, Arreus Arrufat, and others were present. And when the heretics had stated very many objections on many matters, they focussed their attention upon one, identical proposition stated by our Lord in John [111, 13]: “No man hath ascended into heaven, but he that descendeth from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven.” For the bishop of Osma asked how they understood that proposition. One of them answered that John, who was speaking [here], called himself the son of the man who is in heaven. “Your meaning, then,” said the bishop, “is that his father, who is in heaven, is a man of whom he calls himself the son?” When they said that this was their understanding [of the statement], the bishop said, “Then, since the Lord says through Isaias [LXVI, 1], that ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth my footstool,’ it follows that, if he is a man sitting in heaven, his shinbones have the length of the space between heaven and earth.” When they admitted that they thought this to be the case, he immediately added, “May God curse you, since you are coarse heretics. I thought you had some subtlety.” Then they went far astray, trying to escape [this evidence] by other statements. For, having stated the authority [of the Scriptures], the Catholics were proving that Christ is God and man, who came down from heaven to be man, and yet, as God, was in heaven whence He had descended (Puylaurens, c. VIII).
24. One day a famous disputation was being held at Fanjeaux and a large number of the faithful and unbelievers had gathered. Many of the former had written their own books containing arguments and authorities in support of the faith. After these books had been inspected, the one written by Blessed Dominic was commended above the others and unanimously accepted. Accordingly, his book and that produced by the heretics were presented to three judges chosen with the assent of both sides, with the understanding that the side whose book was chosen as the more reasonable defense should be regarded as having the superior faith.
25. After much wrangling, the judges came to no decision. Then they decided to cast both books into a fire and, if either of them was not burned, it would be held as containing the true faith. So they built a huge fire and cast the books therein. The heretical book was immediately consumed by the fire, but the one written by the man of God, Dominic, not only escaped burning, but, in the sight of all, leaped far from the fire. For a second and a third time, it was cast into the fire, but each time it leaped back and thereby openly testified to the truth of its doctrine and the holiness of the person who had written it.
Now since an orderly narration of the manner wherein the apostolic men, namely, our preachers, went from town to town in preaching the Gospel and taking part in disputations, would be lengthy, we omit this [narration] and go on to the most important events. One day all the heresiarchs assembled in a certain town called Montr6al, pertinent to the diocese of Carcassonne, to debate as a group against the oft-mentioned [preachers]. Brother Peter of Castelnau, who, as we mentioned a short while ago, had left his associates at Béziers, returned to take part in this disputation. Now for those taking part in the debate there was the provision of judges, [selected] from those who adhered to the heresy. The disputation lasted for fifteen days. [The arguments and counter-arguments of both sides] were recorded and the transcripts, drawn up in the form of propositions, were given to the judges for their final decision. Recognizing that their heretical [associates] had been most plainly defeated, the judges refused to make a decision; [and], lest the writings which they received from our representatives should come to the knowledge of the public, they refused to give them back to our men and handed them over to the heretics (Cernai).
A Certain Miracle. At that time a miracle which we deem worthy of insertion here took place. One day, some of [these] religious men, our Preachers, were disputing against the heretics. One of ours by the name of Dominic, a man of complete holiness who was a companion of the bishop of Osma, reduced to writing the authorities
he had used in a debate [and] gave the manuscript to a certain heretic to study before giving [his] reply. That night, as the heretics sat by the fire in the house where they had assembled, the one to whom the man of God had given the manuscript produced it and [showed it to] his companions, [who] suggested that it be thrown into the fire. If the manuscript caught on fire, the faith (or perfidy) of the heretics would be true; if it remained intact, they would admit that the faith which our men were preaching is good. What then? They all agreed and the manuscript was cast into the fire, but, although it remained in the midst of the flames for some time, it leaped from the fire without being burned at all. They were astounded. But one of them, more hardened than the rest, said “Throw it back into the fire, so that we can make a fuller test of the truth.” So it was thrown again into the fire and once more it came back unharmed. When the man who was calloused and slow to believe saw this, he said, “Throw it back a third time and then we shall have no doubts about the outcome of the affair.” For a third time it was cast into the fire and for a third time it escaped burning and came back whole and unscorched. But in spite of so many manifest signs, the heretics even then refused to be converted to the faith, but, remaining fixed in their hardness, they pledged themselves in the strictest manner to keep the miracle from coming to the knowledge of our men. But a certain knight who was there [and] who was slightly inclined to hold to our faith refused to cover up what he had seen and made it known to many persons. Knowledge of this miracle, which took place at Montréal, came to me from the mouth of that very religious man who had given the manuscript to the heretic. (Cernai, copied by Humbert, nos. 17-18). A similar event is said to have occurred at Fanjeaux in the course of a solemn disputation being held against the heretics (H. 18). Concerning the Solemn Disputation Held at Montréal Through Written Memoranda distributed Among Lay Judges. Then, among the numerous disputations which they held with the heretics in various places, one rather solemn [debate] took place in the year of [our] Lord 1207 at Montreal, at which were present our aforementioned pugilists, the venerable man Peter of Castelnau, the legate, his colleague Master Ralph, and many other good men, for their side, and, for the other side, the heresiarch Arnold Othon, Guilabert of Castres, Benedict of Terme, Ponce Jourdain, and many others whose names are not written in the book of life. For several days there was disputation through written memoranda before judges selected by both sides, namely, Bernard of Villeneuve and Bernard of Arzens, soldiers, and the townsmen Raymond Got and Arnold Rivière, to whom both sides gave their writings. And the basis [for the discussion] chosen by the heretics was that Arnold Othon said that the Roman Church, defended by the bishop of Osma, is not holy, nor [is it] the spouse of Christ, but the church of the devil, [holding] the doctrine of the demons, and that it is that Babylon which, in the Apocalypse, John Calls the mother of fornications and abominations, drunk with the blood of the saints and the martyrs of Jesus Christ. Its institution is neither holy nor good, nor established by the Lord Jesus Christ; and neither Christ nor the Apostles established or Posited the order of the Mass as it is established today. The bishop offered himself to prove the contrary by the authoritative words of the New Testament. What a shame! [Even] among Christians the status of the Church and the Catholic faith had reached that point of dishonor where the judgment about such great outrages had to be entrusted to laymen! When, therefore, the writings were distributed among the aforementioned laymen, to whom both sides gave the authority for deciding [the truth], they refused to deliberate, went away, and left the business unfinished. In the course of many years, however, I asked the Lord Bernard of Villeneuve what was done with the aforementioned writings or whether the dispute was settled. He told me that nothing was settled, since the writings were lost when the crusaders came, all the persons of that town and other towns taking flight. Yet he added that, having understood what was said [in the writings of the Catholics], about one hundred and fifty heretics were converted to the faith. However, I suspect that some of his colleagues, who were favorable to the heretics, had suppressed writings of this type (Puylaurens, c. IX).
When it was over Peter of Castelnau left his companions and went to Provence (Cernai).
During the same era , the detestable heresy of the Bulgarians, the worst dregs of all errors, crept into many places, the more dangerously as it was the more hidden, but it was especially strong in the territory of the Count of Toulouse and the neighboring princes. There, while the [respective populations] openly profess [this] error, they spurn the primacy and judgment of the Roman Church and separate themselves from the communion of the Christians living therein. They say that none can be saved in the [Roman Church] or in her faith, and they either deny or prevent all the articles of faith. While they blaspheme all religious practice and cult, as well as the hierarchy and the piety of the Catholic Church, they damn every kind of men other than themselves, and make a false glorification of their small groups by calling them the Catholic Church. This is why, on the advice of the Lord Pope, the abbot of Citeaux, [Arnold], about thirteen other abbots, and many approved men of the same Order were delegated. [They were] all well instructed in wisdom and eloquence, ready to satisfy everyone requesting a reason for the faith, and even not fearing to expose their lives to martyrdom. for the faith. About thirty of them leaving Citeaux in the month of March, then, they went down along the Saône towards the Rhône, with few expenses and without horses, so that they might prove themselves men of the Gospel in every way possible. Finally, having entered the country whither they were going, and divided into groups of two or three, they went on foot through that area and sought out the enemies of the faith with the points of salutary doctrine (Robert of Auxerre, p. 271).
Let us return to our subject. After the aforementioned disputation had been completed in Montréal, while our preachers were still in that region and were [going from house to house] humbly begging their meals and sowing the seed of admonitions concerning the faith and [human] salvation, the venerable abbot of Citeaux, Arnold, [coming] from the area of France, [rejoined them]. This totally religious man of unparalleled sanctity and outstanding knowledge brought with him twelve abbots according to the sacred number of the Apostles. These twelve, together with the Father Abbot, [who made] thirteen, came prepared to give to everyone willing to dispute with them a reason for the faith and hope in them. Each of [the abbots], as well as the monks who accompanied them, came on foot without any display, according to the example [shown them] by the man on the mountain, that is, in accordance with what they had heard about the Bishop of Osma. They were immediately dispersed far and wide by the Abbot of Citeaux, who assigned them each a district throughout which they were to spare no effort in preaching and holding disputations (Cernai).
26. Now such a splendor of character was evident in the man of God, Bishop Diego, that he won the love of the unbelievers and so influenced the hearts of all among whom he lived that the heretics said of him that it would be impossible for such a man not to have been predestined to life and that he had possibly been sent to their region for no purpose other than to bring them to an understanding of the true faith.
A Monastery for Sisters is Founded at Prouille
27. In order to give assistance to certain women of the nobility whose parents were led by poverty to give them over to the heretics for training and support, he established a monastery between Fanjeaux and Montreal in a place called Prouille. There, to this day, handmaids of Christ give a pleasing service to their Creator. By the vigor of their holiness and the noble purity of their innocence, they lead a life which is of spiritual benefit to themselves, a source of edification to men, a joy to the angels, and a pleasure to God.
The Return of the Bishop of Osma to Spain and His Death
28. Bishop Diego spent two years preaching in this region. Then, for fear that he could be accused of neglecting his own church at Osma if he remained longer, he decided to go back to Spain where he could visit his church, collect enough money to finish the abovementioned monastery of women, and return. After that, he planned, with the Pope’s approval, to ordain, in that region, men capable of preaching, whose duty it would be to hammer away at the errors of the heretics and protect the true faith.
29. Before leaving, he entrusted the spiritual care of those who remained to Brother Dominic as to one truly filled with the spirit of God. To William Claret of Pamiers he entrusted the care of temporal matters, with the understanding that he must give to Brother Dominic an account of all his transactions. Then he bade farewell to the brethren.
The Bishop of Osma wanted to return to his diocese to put his domestic affairs in order and provide from his revenues whatever was needed by those preaching God’s word in the province of Narbonnaise. While he was returning to Spain, he came to Pamiers, in the area of Toulouse, where he met Foulques, the bishop of Toulouse, Navarre, the bishop of Conserans, and several abbots. A disputation was held there with the Waldensians, [who] were completely defeated and thrown into confusion. The majority of the people in the village, especially the poor, favored us and even the man appointed judge of the disputation, an important personage in that village who had favored the Waldensians, renounced the heretical depravity and offered himself and his possessions into the hands of the Lord Bishop of Osma. From that day on, he manfully opposed the followers of [that] heretical superstition. One of those who took part in this disputation was that unspeakable traitor [and] notoriously vicious persecutor of the Church, a [veritable] enemy of Christ, the Count of Foix. His wife was publicly known to be a follower of the Waldensian sect and, of his two sisters, one professed the teachings of the Waldensians, while the other professed the heresies common to other apostates. The . . . disputation [itself] was conducted in the count’s own palace. The Count listened to Waldensians one day, our preachers another day. O pretentious beneficence! (Cernai).
There was, also, another disputation at Pamiers, where the sister of Bernard Roger, Count of Foix, openly protected the heretics. Brother Stephen of Mercy [said] to her “Go, Madame, go spin your distaff. It is not your business to speak in a meeting of this type.” In this place there was also a disputation against the Waldensians, under Master Arnold of Crampagna, then a secular cleric, a judge selected by the partisans. When [the Waldensians] fell under his condemnation, some of them, returning to their heart [Isaias XLVI, 8], approached the Apostolic See and did penance. They received the permission to live according to a rule. As I heard about [this matter], Durand of Huesca was [their] prior, and he produced some writings against the heretics. For many years they lived in this way in some part of Catalonia, but afterwards they gradually disappeared. There were, also, other heretics [who were] patently beaten [in their errors], even in the judgment of their heretical enemies. For this reason I shall say that I heard the Lord Bishop Foulques say what Ponce Adhemar, a wise knight from Rodelia, said to [him], “We could not believe at all that Rome could have so many efficacious arguments against those men.” “Do you not recognize,” the bishop asked, “that those men have no strength against our objections?” “We know it well,” he answered. [Then] the bishop asked, “Then why do you not expel and banish [them] from [your] lands?” But he answered, “We cannot do it, since we were reared with them, we have our relatives among them, and we see them live decently.” For this is the way whereby, by the mere appearance of a clean life, falsity robs careless men of the truth (Puylaurens, c. VIII).
30. After traveling through Castile on foot, he reached Osma. But within a few days he became sick and completed his earthly life in great holiness, reaping the glorious fruit of his good works and entering for a rich repose. It is related that, after his death, be became renowned for his miracles. However, it is not surprising that such power to work wonders should be given by the all-powerful God to one who, during his sojourn in this weak and sorrowful life, was known for his marvelous graces and splendid virtues.
After these events, the bishop of Osma left for his diocese, fully intending to return as soon as possible to continue with the work of the faith in the province of Narbonnaise. But he had been back in his diocese only a few days, during which he closed his affairs and was preparing to leave, when death overtook him and he peacefully fell asleep [in the Lord] at a well advanced old age (Cernai).
The Return of Those Whom the Pope Had Sent into Albigensian Territory
31. When most of those who had remained in Toulouse learned that this man of God had died, they returned to their monasteries. Only Brother Dominic remained and continued preaching, and, although some of the others remained with him for a while, they were not yet bound to him by any ties of obedience. Among them was William Claret and another Brother Dominic of Spain, who later became prior at Manino in Spain.
However, before [the bishop] had died, the oft-mentioned man of saintly memory, Brother Ralph, had yielded to destiny in an abbey of the Cistercian Order, called Franquevaux, near St. Giles. After death had taken these two sources of light, the Bishop of Osma and Brother Ralph, the venerable Abbot Guy of Vaux-de-Cernai was appointed head and master of the preachers. A man of noble lineage, but far more remarkable for his knowledge and virtue, he had left the diocese of Paris and, in the company of the other abbots, had come to the province of Narvonnaise to preach. Later he became the bishop of Carcassonne. In the meantime the Abbot of Citeaux had to leave the company because of certain important matters demanding his attention. The saintly preachers nevertheless continued their work of disputing with the heretics and refuting them soundly, although they failed to convert them from the obstinacy of their evil ways. Finally, when they [saw that] their preaching and disputing bore little or no fruit, they returned to France (Cernai).
Among many thousands [of persons], they could hardly find any professing the right faith. An infinite number of other persons, however, held on to their error so pertinaciously that they would not agree to [what was said in] any of the documents of the truth, but [were] like vipers [who] become deaf to the voices of those who sing wisely [Psalm LVII, 5], lest hearing, the truth should penetrate their minds immersed in darkness. For three months, then, [our preachers] went through the cities and towns with much work and care. Assailed by many dangers and snares, they brought [only] a small number of persons back to the faith, [while] they instructed the small number of the faithful they encountered and helped them to a greater certitude about the faith. With them there was also a certain bishop of the city of Osma in Spain. [He was] a most gentle and discursive man who, too, walked everywhere, looking for souls to be won [for Christ]. With his revenues he bought a large supply of food which he distributed in very many places and generously offered to those preaching the word of God (Robert of Auxerre, p. 271).
Concerning the Recourse to the Apostolic See After It Was Admitted that Preaching Was of No Avail for Expelling the Heretics; the Establishment of the Order of Preachers for the Support of the Faith.
This work, then, was pursued for more than two years, but God’s blessed champions could not extinguish the kindled fire [of heresy] by this method. Thus, noting that the situation would need higher directives, they were forced to call [for help from] the Apostolic See. However, lest the commenced preaching should remain suspended, there was, under inspiration from the Lord, provision for establishing perpetual preachers against the heretics. For this reason especially, the Order of Preachers arose at the time of the blessed Lord Bishop Foulques. Their standard-bearer, Blessed Dominic, equally took on the presidency and the burden. It would not be fitting for me to continue my narration about him, since the history of his life and his universally expanded order have made him well known with [sufficient] clarity to both his supporters and non-supporters. And, as the blessed Apostle says, it is true that there had to be heresies in our areas, so that [this] approved order might appear fruitful and as granting public service, not so much among us, as throughout the entire world (Puylaurens, c. X).
The Preaching of a Crusade against the Albigensians
32. After the death of the Bishop of Osma, a crusade began to be preached against the Albigensians in France. This move was taken by Pope Innocent, who decided that, if the rebellious spirit of the heretics could not be tamed by the pious measures of truth or pierced by the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God, then at least they would respect the power of the material sword.
33. Resort to material force had already been predicted by Bishop Diego. On one occasion, when he had publicly and clearly refuted the error of the heretics in the Presence of an assembly of nobles, and they had mockingly defended their subverters with sacrilegious excuses, he raised his hands to heaven and said, “Lord, put forth thy hand and touch them.” Those who heard him speak these words in the spirit recalled them later, when tribulations finally brought them to understand their meaning.
Shortly afterward, the Lord Legate Peter of Castelnau passed [from this world] to God through the swords of impious men. The Count of Toulouse was not above all suspicion in this matter. Let the judges come, then, and remove the princes who supported such [crimes] (Puylaurens, c. IX).
The Injustices Inflicted upon Him by the Heretics in Albigensian Territory.
34. During this crusade, Brother Dominic zealously continued to preach the word of God until the death of the Count de Montfort. How many insults he endured from the impious in those days? How many snares he removed? On one occasion, when they threatened to kill him, he calmly answered, “I am not worthy of the martyr’s glory; as yet I haven’t merited such a death.” Some time later, as he neared a place in which he suspected traps had been laid for him, he started to sing and walked by fearlessly. When the heretics learned of this, they marvelled at his courage and asked him, “Aren’t you afraid of death? What would you have done if we had captured you?” His only answer was, “I would have asked you not to kill me all at once, but to cut me up member by member, so as to give me a lingering martyrdom. Then, before you plucked out my eyes, I would ask you to hold before me each part you had cut from my body. After all that, you could let the rest of my body roll about in its own blood or you could kill me altogether.” Astounded by these words, the enemies of truth no longer laid snares for him or hunted for the soul of the just man whom they would help rather than hurt, if they killed him. But, with all his power and zeal he continued to busy himself winning as many souls as he could for Christ, since his heart was filled with an admirable and almost incredible desire for the salvation of all men.
Thus he absolutely refused the bishopric of Conserans to which he had been elected and declared that he would sooner die than ever consent to any election that concerned him (c. 62).
The heretics often mocked him, spat upon him and threw mud and such things at him . . . Later one of them repented and came to confession, where he told of striking St. Dominic with mud he had thrown and of tying straws on his back to poke fun (F. 20). Once he was asked why he did not prefer to stay at Toulouse in the diocese of Toulouse rather than at Carcassonne and its diocese. “Because in the Toulouse diocese,” he said, “I find many persons who pay me honor, but in Carcassonne everyone attacks me” (C. 62).
Once a general debate was scheduled to be held against the heretics and the local bishop was preparing to go along in pomp with a splendid entourage. “Not thus,” said Blessed Dominic, “Not thus, Lord Father, should we go out against such persons; heretics are more easily won over by examples of humility and virtue than by external display or a hall of words. Should we not rather arm ourselves with devout prayers and, carrying before us the standard of true humility, proceed in our bare feet against Goliath.” The bishop believed the man of God and, sending back his equipage, proceeded barefoot. The place was a good many miles away and, as they went along, they began to wonder whether they were on the right road. So they made inquiries of a man they thought was a Catholic, but was really a heretic. “Sure,” he said, “I will not only show you the way, but I will lead you there myself.” Then he spitefully led them out of their way through a deep forest over thorns and briars so that their feet and legs were red with blood. But the man of God accepted it with the utmost patience, praising God and encouraging the others to praise God and have patience: “My dear companions, trust in the Lord, for the victory shall be ours, because we have cleansed ourselves of sin with our blood.” But the heretic, seeing their remarkable and joyful patience, was moved to sorrow by the words of the man of God. He confessed his deception and adjured his heresy. When they reached their destination, all their labors came to a successful issue (Frachet H, 2).
How He Spent the Night in Prayer Wearing a Wet Habit Which Was Found to be Dry in the Morning. It often happened that they ran into rain on the road and his and his companions’ clothing would become soaked through and through. After supper, while his companions remained before the fire and held their clothing over it to dry, as well as to recreate a bit, Blessed Dominic, the man of God, warmed by the fire of the Holy Spirit, would, according to his custom, go at once to pray in the church, where he would spend the entire night in prayer, no matter how wet his clothing. But in the morning, even though the clothing of the others that had been hanging near the fire would still be damp, his own were found to be as dry as though they had been in a warm oven all night (C. 42).
Concerning the Coin Miraculously Provided as Payment for a Boat Ride. One day, in the course of his preaching journey he crossed a body of water in a boat with many other persons, but the mariner who had conveyed him insistently demanded a coin in payment for the passage. But the man of God promised him the kingdom of heaven for the service he had given and then explained that, as a servant, a disciple of Christ, he carried no gold or silver with him. But he not only refused this promise, as though it were nothing, but seemed to have become more provoked by it and began to insist all the more sharply, as he tugged at Blessed Dominic’s cappa: “Either you leave the cappa or pay me the fare.” Then the man of God, after raising his eyes to heaven and silently praying a moment, turned his gaze toward the ground and saw there a coin which had undoubtedly been provided by God’s favor. “There, my brother, is what you request; take it and let me go in peace” (C. 43).
In the territory of Toulouse where he often traveled in his preaching, Blessed Dominic one day had occasion to ford a stream called Ariège. Half way across, the books under his arm fell into the water, as he lifted his habit. But he went on, praising God, until he left the home of a certain lady to whom he announced the loss of his books. Three days later a fisherman casting a hook in those waters thought he had caught a fish, only to discover books at the end of his line. They were as well preserved as if they had been carefully kept in a closed cabinet. More remarkable was the fact that the books were not covered with cloth or leather or protection of any kind. The lady accepted them joyfully and sent them to Toulouse to the Blessed Father (Frachet II, 4).
How He offered to Sell Himself to Help Someone
35. He was not lacking in that charity greater than which no man hath that he lay down his life for his friends. Once he was exhorting an unbeliever to return to the bosom of Mother Church and the latter pleaded that temporal necessity bound him to the heretics, who gave him all he needed for a living, because he could not get them in any other way. Deeply moved by compassion for this man, Dominic resolved to sell himself and use the money to relieve the poverty of this soul. And he would have done so, had not the Lord, who is rich towards all, provided another means of supplying that man’s needs.
He is known to have done something like that while he was still living in his own country. For a woman came to him weeping that her brother was being held captive by the Saracens. But filled with a spirit of charity he was moved to compassion and offered to sell himself as a ransom for the prisoner. But Our Lord did not allow it (F. 21).
36. The servant of God, Dominic, grew in virtue and reputation to such a degree that he aroused the envy of the heretics. The kinder he was, the more difficult it became for their weak eyes to withstand the rays of his light. So they mocked and laughed at those who followed him, thereby bringing forth evil from the evil treasure of their hearts. But, although the unbelievers ridiculed him, he was consoled by the devotion of the faithful and was held in such loving veneration by all the Catholics that his delightful holiness and beautiful character stirred even the hearts of the nobles, and he was held in honor by the archbishops, bishops, and other prelates of that region.
At this time the servant of God, recognizing full well that the hearts of sinners are moved by example more than by words and that the vast majority had been led into error by the wily superstitions of the heretics, resolved to match example with example and to attack pretended virtue with genuine. There were in the district of Toulouse certain noble personages whose friendship had been won by the heretics, who were ravening wolves in sheep’s clothing. For they assumed, as usual, a remarkable air of humility in the clothing they wore and pleasantness of speech, together with an unusual austerity in regard to food. They did indeed, disfigure their faces in order to appear unto men to fast [Matt. 6:16]. Would not even the wise be deceived at first by such appearances? Who would not regard them as very holy? No wonder that this holy model of zeal for souls wept at the thought of these simple minds being seduced by such pretense. Accordingly he visited some of the noble women and servants among the unbelievers and received hospitality from them and remained there through the season of Lent. Then, in order to win them by the outward signs of holiness, he and his companion began to practice such austerities as human weakness could never endure without the help of God’s sustaining grace. For when they offered food prepared in the customary manner of his host, he said, “We do not partake of such food during this season. Just bread and cold water.” This holy man and his companion fasted on bread and water every day for the entire season of Lent until Easter, so that the servants of the heretics marvelled and said, “These men are certainly good men.” When a bed suitable for resting was prepared for him, he would say, “Not this soft bed; we shall rest on a table.” Then each one reclined on a bare table. They used these tables as their mattress and furnishings every night of that Lenten season. Thus did they crucify their flesh daily sleeping on the hard wood, after the example of Him Who entered the sleep of death on the wood of the Cross. Their sleep was brief, for they arose very early to anticipate the vigils and to pray. Blessed Dominic himself asked some of the ladies to find him and his companion items of clothing which were, indeed, shabby, but very needful. When they asked what kind of clothing they meant, he answered, “Hairshirts.” But he added, “Keep it a secret and don’t let anyone know.” They were deeply moved with admiration at such eminent holiness and began little by little to be drawn to the faith of Catholic truth (F. 22).
How He Foresaw the Death of the King of Aragon. Once the man of God spent the entire season of Lent at Carcassonne in the house of the bishop.(3) He busied himself with preaching and fulfilling some of the bishop’s spiritual functions entrusted to him by the latter, who was then in France. Those were the days of increasing hostilities in the war which the Lord Count Simon de Montfort was waging on behalf of the Church against the Count of Toulouse. As the advantage began to swing against the church and in favor of the count of Toulouse a certain Cistercian lay brother who was living there began to lament this turn of events and came in his grief to the servant of God, Dominic. “Master Dominic,” he said, “will there never be an end to these evils?” But when the servant of God gave no reply, the brother continued to question him, knowing that the Lord would reveal many things to him. Then, in the presence of Brother Stephen of Metz, who was his companion at the time and whose frequent telling of this story has made it Well known, he declared, “There will certainly be an end to the wickedness of those from Toulouse; there will be an end, but this end is far off. Meanwhile many will shed their blood and one of the kings taking part in this war will be struck down and die.” Now, fearing that they might take it to mean the King of France, who had just then adopted the Albigensian cause, he added, “Don’t fear for the King of France. It will be another king whose life the fortunes of this war will soon take.” The following year, helping the side of the Count of Toulouse, the King of Aragon fell in battle. Would that he had never struggled against the Church and died so unhappily (C. 55).
How He Fasted an Entire Lent on Bread and Water. The same Friar Stephen added that, throughout that entire Lent the servant of God, Dominic, ate and drank nothing but bread and water and never slept in a bed. But on Easter Sunday he said that he felt much stronger; and he did seem to be healthier and not so lean (C. 56).
37. Then it was that the Count de Montfort, who cherished him with special devotion, gave a remarkable fortress called Casseneuil (4) to Dominic and the followers who helped him in the work of salvation he had undertaken. In addition to this, Brother Dominic had the church at Fanjeaux and other places from which he could derive enough to sustain himself and his followers. Whatever they could afford from these revenues they gave to the sisters of the monastery at Prouille, since the Order of Preachers had not yet been instituted; only the plans of its institution had been laid, although Dominic himself persisted in the work of preaching. Furthermore, they were not yet following what would later be part of their constitutions, namely, not to accept possessions or keep those already accepted. Thus, from the time of the Bishop of Osma’s death until the Lateran Council, almost ten years went by, during which time he was practically alone in this work.
He started to think about founding an Order whose duty it would be to travel throughout the world preaching the Gospel by word and example and defending the Catholic Faith against the heretics then rearing themselves (C. 20).
The First Brethren Offering Themselves to Brother Dominic
38. At the very time when the bishops began to arrive in Rome for the Lateran Council, two good and worthy men of Toulouse offered themselves to Brother Dominic. One was Brother Peter of Seila, later the prior at Limonges; the other was Brother Thomas, a very gracious and eloquent man. The former of these, Brother Peter, gave Brother Dominic and his companions the tall, stone houses he owned … near the village of Narbonne. And, so, for the first time, they began to live together at Toulouse in the same houses. From then on, all who were gathered there began to grow more and more in humility and to live according to the customs of religious.
Our holy Father was also an “Israel,” seeing God through contemplation; this is evident from the only example which has escaped from the hands of the harvesters. Our Blessed Father frequently and willingly visited places of prayer, as well as the bodies of the saints. He did not pass through them like a rainless cloud, but frequently joined day with night in his prayers therein. More frequently, however, as often as the opportunity offered itself, he went to a town called Castres, in the Diocese of Albi, which is adjacent to the Diocese of Toulouse, to venerate and honor the Blessed Levite Vincent, whose body is undoubtedly and certainly known, from the time of the glorious King Charlemagne, to repose [in the church] … For this church, the aforementioned noble Count de Montfort instituted, during his reign, secular stipends in keeping with the practice of the Gallican Church. Brother Matthew, who later became the first and last abbot in the Order of the Friars Preachers, was prior there.
At the time of this prior, Blessed Dominic remained after Mass to pray before the altar in church, as was his custom. How, as the day advanced, the meal was ready, and the table set, the prior sent one of his clerics to call the saint to dinner, who, when he entered the church, saw the blessed man Dominic completely separated from the ground and raised into the air about half a cubit [about nine inches]. Trembling and stupefied, he told this to his superior, who, after waiting a while, finally went and saw him raised about a cubit [about a foot and a half]. He waited there until, returning to his bodily dwelling from the heavenly habitation, he lay prostrate before the altar. Seeing this, the aforementioned prior, after a little while, followed him, who promised the bread of life and the water of heaven to all the persons he received. This was the blessed father’s way of acting when he received the brethren and gave them the habit.
The Friars Preachers received possession of the aforementioned church with the body of St. Vincent and entered to dwell there in the year of Christ’s grace 1258, with the strong support of Lord Philip de Montfort (Salagnac 1, 9).
The Revenues from Which They Obtained Food and Other Necessities
39. Then the Bishop of Toulouse, Foulques, of happy memory, who tenderly loved Brother Dominic, the delight of God and men, took note of the religious devotion of these brethren and of the grace and fervor in their preaching. So much did he rejoice at the coming of this fresh light that, with the consent of his chapter, he conferred upon them a sixth of all the tithes of his diocese and, with this, they were able to provide themselves with books and other necessities of life.
The Vision of Seven Stars Which Appeared to a Master in Theology. In Toulouse one morning before daybreak, as a certain Master of Theology, well born and renowned for his learning and reputation, was rehearsing his lectures, he became quite drowsy and, resting his head on the desk for a time, fell asleep. During this time, he seemed to see seven stars appear before him. While he was lost in admiration to the novelty of this scene, they increased in size and brilliance to such a degree that they lit up his own country and the entire world. Then at once he awoke and, seeing that the day had begun, he called the servants who carried his books and set out for class. And behold Blessed Dominic and six companions clothed in his habit humbly approached this master and identified themselves as the friars who had been preaching God’s gospel to the faithful and against the unbelievers in the Toulouse area. They told him that they had come to attend his classes and wanted very much to hear his lectures. The master agreed and, for a long time, regarded these seven friars as his devoted friends and instructed them as his students. But, recalling the vision he had seen a bit earlier, he interpreted Blessed Dominic and his companions as the seven stars which he saw suddenly grow in brilliance by reason of the enormous light shed by their good name and their knowledge. Accordingly he treated them with the greatest reverence and always held them in the greatest affection. The same master told this to Brother Arnulf of Bethunia and his companion when they were in the court of the King of England (H. 40).
How Master Dominic Went to the Pope With the Bishop of Toulouse
40. This same bishop took Brother Dominic as his companion to the council and, together, they besought the Lord Pope Innocent to confirm Brother Dominic and his companions in an Order which would be called and would be an Order of Preachers, as well as to ratify the revenues already assigned to the brethren by the Count and the Bishop.
41. After listening to this request, the head of the Roman See urged Brother Dominic to return to his brethren and, after a full discussion with them on the matter of unanimously accepting an already approved rule, the Bishop should assign them a church. After that, he was to return and get the Pope’s approval of their work.
42. Accordingly, after the council, Dominic returned to Toulouse and, calling the brethren together, he notified them of the Lord Pope’s wishes. Now the future preachers chose the Rule of St. Augustine, who had been an outstanding preacher, and added to it some stricter details about food and fasts, as well as about bedding and clothing. They agreed, also, to hold no possessions, lest concern about temporal things be an obstacle to their office of preaching, but would remain content with their revenue.
43. Along with this, the Bishop of Toulouse, with the consent of his chapter, assigned them three churches: one within the city, another in the village of Parniers, and a third between Sorèze and Puylaurens, called the Church of St. Mary of Lescure.(5) A convent and priory were to be attached to each of these churches.
The First Church Conferred on the Brethren at Toulouse
44. During the summer of 1216 the brethren received the first church in the city of Toulouse, which had been built in honor of St. Romain. None of the brethren had ever lived in either of the other two churches. But in the church of St. Romain they built an enclosure, above which were cells for study and sleep. At that time the brethren numbered about sixteen.
How Dominic Foretold the Conversion of Brother Raymond, Who Had Been a Heretic. Once when the servant of God, Dominic, was preaching in the Toulouse area, a number of heretics who had been arrested and convicted by him were turned over to a state tribunal, after they refused to return to the Catholic Faith. Since they were to be burned at the stake, he looked at one of them named Raymond de Grossi as though he observed the ray of divine predestination in him. “Release him,” he said to the officials of the court, “and don’t bum him with the others.” Then, going up to him, he said gently, “I know, my son, I know that, although late, you will yet be a good, holy man.” Then a marvelous thing worthy of being recorded took place. He was released and, for almost twenty years, remained in the blindness of his heresy, but at last, illumined by God’s grace, he left the darkness and came into the light. He became a friar and led a praiseworthy life in this Order until his happy death (C. 51).(6)
Death of Lord Innocent and Elevation of Pope Honorius, Who Confirm the Order
45. In the meantime, the Lord Pope Innocent died and was succeeded by Honorius, upon whom Dominic called at once in order to present the plan and organization agreed upon for his Order. From him he obtained full and complete confirmation of the Order and of everything else he requested.
The Vision [Dominic] Saw at Rome in the Basilica of the Apostles Peter and Paul. Once when the servant of God, Dominic, was at Rome in the Basilica of St. Peter, where he was praying fervently in God’s sight for the preservation and growth of his
Order, which the right hand of God had raised up through him, he saw the glorious princes, Peter and Paul, coming toward him in a sudden vision wrought by the power of God. Peter, who was first, seemed to be handing him a staff, and Paul a book. Then they spoke these words: “Go and preach, because you have been chosen by God for this work.” And then, in a moment of time, he seemed to see all his children dispersed through the world and going two by two preaching the word of God to the people (C. 25).
When the Order should have been confirmed by the Apostolic [successor], he commanded the secretary to put down “Preaching Friars” in addressing the Order. Writing the letter of confirmation, [the secretary] directly put down “Friars Preachers.” When he looked at the letter, the Apostolic [successor] asked the secretary, “Why have you not written ‘Preaching Friars,’ as I told you? Did you want to write ‘Preachers’?” In all calmness, the latter answered, ” ‘Preaching’ is an adjective, although it may be granted that a participle can be used as a substantive and serve as a common noun denoting an act; but ‘Preachers’ is properly a substantive, and is both a verbal and personal noun wherein the name of the function is most clearly stated.” You see, then, reader, how truly the secretary answered the objections. For “preaching” never signifies its content other than by way of an act, whereas “preacher” signifies its content after the manner of a habit, even though [this content] may not always be an act; and therefore it was fitting that “preacher” be put down. The Apostolic Lord [Pope] agreeing with [this] most patent argument, the Order received the title of Preachers and was solemnly confirmed by the cardinals (Cantimpr6, Book I, chap. 9). The Lateran Council having been celebrated in the year of our Lord 1215, the Pope, ordering certain agenda pertinent to the promotion of the faith in the Toulouse area, and deciding to write about these agenda to Blessed Dominic and those who were with him, told a secretary whom he had called, “Sit down and write about these matters to ‘Brother Dominic and his Companions’ in [exactly] these words.” And after standing up a bit, he said, “Do not write it that way, but in this manner: ‘Brother Dominic and Those Who Are Preaching With Him in the Area of Toulouse’, etc.” And immediately after taking more time for further consideration, he said, “Put it down this way: ‘Master Dominic and the Friars Preachers, etc.’ ” and he got up. This is how the Lord [Pope] said it, and this is how the secretary wrote it (Salagnac II, no. 1).
Count de Montfort’s Death, Which Had Been Foretold to Master Dominic
46. In 1217 the people of Toulouse rose up against Count de Montfort. We can suppose that the man of God, Dominic, had been informed of this in the spirit, some time earlier, for, in a vision, he had been shown a tree, majestic in height and beautiful in appearance, in whose branches a large number of birds dwelt. The tree was cut down and the birds nesting in it flew away. From this the man full of God’s spirit understood that the Count de Montfort, the great and noble prince and protector of many orphans, was about to be struck down by death.
47. After invoking the Holy Spirit, [Dominic] assembled the brethren and announced that, in spite of their small number, his heart’s desire was to send them throughout the whole world and that they would no longer live together in their present abode. Although they were all surprised at the announcement of this unexpected plan, yet, because his evident authority of holiness animated them, they easily agreed to it in the hope that it would result in a good purpose.
For he knew that grain bears fruit if sown, but, if stored, it rots. (F. 31).
48. He proposed, also, that they elect one of their number to be an abbot who would rule the others as their superior and head, with the understanding that Dominic reserved to himself the right of correcting him. Accordingly, Brother Matthew was canonically elected abbot. He was the first and last one to be called an abbot in this Order, since later the brethren, to show their humility, were pleased to have the superior called, not “abbot,” but “Master of the Order.”
The holy man did this, because he was thinking of going into the land of the Saracens and preaching the word of faith to them. For this purpose he grew a beard for a while (F. 32).
For then he definitely left Toulouse and dispersed the brethren in the year of the Lord 1217, on the day of the Assumption of the Blessed Mary, at Prouille. There he had called the brethren and sent them thence to the various provinces shortly after the death of the Count de Montfort. He was wearing sacred vestments and thus concluded his sermon to the crowd which had gathered from many localities (since this was a devotional center existing from ancient times in honor of the Blessed Virgin of Prouille), “For many years now I have sung to you gently by preaching, imploring and weeping; but, as it is commonly said in my country, ‘Where blessing is of no avail, the stick should prevail.’ Thus we shall call out against you princes and prelates who, unfortunately, will convoke against this territory peoples and kingdoms and will kill many by the edge of the sword, will destroy towers, cast down and disintegrate walls, and reduce all of you, unfortunately, into slavery. In this way, the stick [bagol], that is, the strength of the stick, will prevail where blessing and sweetness was of no avail.” Alas, we saw and we see all these events, even when Louis, the son of Philip, the King of France, started the crusade (Salagnac II, 3).
An old and respected citizen of Cahors, declaring that he was prepared to swear to its truth, told the brethren about something he had witnessed, when he was with the Count de Montfort during the siege of Toulouse. A group of pilgrims from England on their way to visit the shrine of St. James [the Apostle, in Spain] and wishing to avoid Toulouse for fear of incurring excommunication boarded a small boat to cross a river. There were so many on board, almost forty, that the boat foundered and everyone fell into the water, so that not even their heads could be seen. When he heard the shouts of the drowning people and of the soldiers who were witnessing it, Blessed Dominic, who had been praying inside a church near the river, came running out and, seeing the danger, prostrated himself on the ground. He extended his arms in the form of a cross and wept bitterly, as he implored God to snatch His pilgrims from death. In a moment he was up and, filled with confidence in God, ordered them, in the name of Christ, to come to the bank of the river. Then a marvelous thing took place, a wonder wrought by Him Who alone works wonders. In the presence of the large crowd that had gathered at this sad spectacle, the Pilgrims appeared above the waves on shore and the soldiers reached out their lances to them and pulled all of them safe and sound from the water (Frachet, II, 3).
The Brethren Sent To Spain
49. In keeping with his plan, four brothers were sent to Spain: Brother Peter of Madrid, Brother Gomez, Brother Michael of Uzero, and Brother Dominic. The latter two were sent later by Master Dominic to Bologna from Rome, whither they had returned from Spain, since they could not bear the fruit they desired in Spain, although the other two made abundant progress in spreading the word of God. This other Brother Dominic was remarkable for his humility, and, though not unusually learned, was rich in virtue. It will not be out of place to tell something about him.
How This Brother Dominic Overcame a Temptation
50. Not without the possible connivance of some of his enemies, it came about that a bold and wanton woman, an instrument of Satan, an obstacle to chastity, and a tinder-box of vices, came to him under the pretense of going to confession and said, “I am overcome by a burning desire for a certain person, but alas he does not know me, and, even if he did, he would not consent to me. My love for him has wounded my heart beyond repair. Please, I beg you, give your advice and the remedy to one who is perishing, for you are the one who can.” As this lewd woman continued thus to entice him with these poisonous words and would not be diverted from her purpose in spite of his dissuasions, he perceived the very cause of danger and she admitted that it was for him that she was consumed. “Go, but come back later,” he said; “in the meantime I shall prepare a place where we can meet without risk.” Then he lit two fires very close to each other in the place agreed upon and, when the woman returned, he cast himself between the fires and urged her to come. “Look,” he said, “I have prepared a suitable place for our sin.” But she became terrified at seeing him hurl himself nonchalantly between the two raging fires and hurried away screaming and repentant. Then he arose, unaffected by the heat of the material fire or the lustful temptation.
The First Brethren Sent to Paris
51. Brother Matthew, who had been elected abbot, was sent to Paris with Brother Bertrand, who later became prior provincial of the province. The latter was a man of great holiness and inflexible severity with himself, for he was unyielding in mortifying his flesh and had reproduced in himself the form and image of Master Dominic, whom he accompanied on some of his journeys. These two, then, were heading for Paris with letters from the Supreme Pontiff to make the Order known. With them came two other brethren for the purpose of study, namely, Brother John of Navarre and Brother Lawrence of England. Before they reached Paris, many things touching on the future of the brethren at Paris, namely, the place and size of their houses and the reception of many brethren, were revealed to Lawrence by our Lord. These brethren were soon followed by another group composed of Brother Mannes (blood-brother of Master Dominic)(7) , Brother Michael of Spain, and a lay brother from Normandy having the name of Oderic.
Concerning this Brother John there comes to mind an incident which I heard this brother tell about himself. When, as it has been said, the holy Father Dominic sent him to Paris with the aforementioned Brother Lawrence, John asked for expenses or money for the trip. The Saint did not want to give it and exhorted them to go like the disciples of Jesus Christ, taking neither gold nor silver. “Rather, have confidence in the Lord,” he said, “since nothing is lacking to those who fear God.” The aforementioned John refused to give in; in fact, he was completely disobedient to the Saint’s counsel. Now, noting the disobedience of the miserable man, the holy and pious father threw himself at his feet, weeping and lamenting for the unhappy man who was not weeping for himself, and commanded that only twelve denarii be given as money for the trip to Paris (Salagnac III, vii, 8).
52. All of these had been sent to Paris, but the last three arrived first and entered the city on September 12, [12171, three weeks ahead of the others. Here they rented a house near the Hospice of Blessed Virgin Mary close to the residence of the Bishop of Paris.
The House of Saint-Jacques
53. In the year of Our Lord, 1218, the house of Saint Jacques was given to the Order, although not unconditionally as yet, by Master John, dean of St. Quentin, and by the University of Paris, at the urging of Pope Honorius. They first occupied it on August 6th.
54. This same year a number of young brothers and simple clerics were sent to Orleans. They were the seed from which a rich harvest was to grow later.
The First Brethren Sent to Bologna
55. Near the beginning of that same year, Master Dominic sent brethren from Rome to Bologna. These were Brother John of Navarre and, later on, Brother Christian and a lay brother. During their stay in Bologna they endured great distress from poverty.
The Miraculous Reception of Master Reginald by Master Dominic in Rome
56. This same year, while Master Dominic was in Rome, Master Reginald, dean of St. Aignan in Orleans, arrived in the Eternal City enroute to a journey across the sea. He was a man renowned for his knowledge and celebrated for his authority, especially in Canon Law, which he had skillfully taught at Paris for five years. In Rome he fell gravely ill and was visited a number of times by Master Dominic, who persuaded him to imitate the poverty of Christ and join the Order. The result was that he freely and fully bound himself by vow to enter this religious state.
57. After that, he recovered from his serious illness, but only in virtue of a miracle occurring after his condition had become desperate. For during the height of one of his fevers the Queen of Heaven and Mother of Mercy, the Virgin Mary, visibly appeared to him and anointed his eyes, nose, ears, mouth, chest, hands, and feet with a soothing ointment and said these words, ‘I anoint your feet with a holy oil in preparation for the gospel of peace.” Then she showed him the complete habit of this Order. At once he became well and so sudden was his cure that the physicians, who had almost given up all hope, were at a loss to explain his evident recovery. This miracle was later revealed by Master Dominic to many who are still living, and I myself was present when he once related it to a group assembled for a conference in Paris.
How Master Reginald Crossed the Sea and Later Returned to Bologna, Where His Preaching Brought Many to the Order
58. After being restored to health, Master Reginald, although now bound to the Order by profession, was able to fulfill his desire and cross the sea. After his return, he went to Bologna on December 21, , where he dedicated himself entirely to preaching. His was a burning eloquence and his talks so inflamed the hearts of all his hearers that even the most hardened could not escape his warmth. All Bologna was astir, because a new Elias seemed to have arisen. During these days he received many of its citizens into the Order and the number of disciples began to grow.
Master Dominic’s Journey to Spain and His Return
59. That same year Master Dominic arrived in Spain, where he restored two houses: one at Madrid, which is now used by nuns, and the other Segovia, which had been the first house of the brethren in Spain. He left Spain and reached Paris in 1219, where he found that the number of brethren had now grown to thirty.
After St. Dominic had received a house at Segovia in Spain, he had occasion to preach outside the walls of that city to an enormous crowd of people that had gathered there (Frachet II, 6).
While he was in Spain at a place called Guadalfaira, Satan tempted some of the friars with him to leave the company of the saintly man: a fact which Blessed Dominic knew beforehand. For he saw in a vision an immense dragon which seemed to open its jaws and engulf the friars who were with him. From this the servant of God, full of His spirit, understood the grave danger threatening his friars from the devil’s temptations; accordingly he told them the vision and exhorted them to be courageous in resisting the tempter by whom no one is overcome, unless he consents to be. But in a short time the very friars whom he saw the dragon devour in the vision were devoured in very fact. For with the exception of three, namely, Friar Adam and two lay brothers, all the ones who seemed to be with Blessed Dominic left his company at the devil’s persuasion. When he asked one of the faithful ones whether he, too, wanted to leave, he answered: “Dear Father, God forbid that I should abandon the head to follow the feet.” But the holy father had no bitterness, only compassion for those who left him. He turned at once to his usual refuge of prayer, and the very ones he could not command to stay he won back by his prayers. For a short time later, through the inspiration of God’s grace, almost all of them returned (F. 40).
On a journey from Toulouse to Paris, Blessed Dominic came to Rocamadour, where he spent the night praying in the church of the Blessed Mary. His companion on the journey was the devout and saintly Friar Bertrand, the first prior of the brethren in Provence. The next morning they caught up with some German pilgrims on the road and, hearing them reciting psalms and litanies, devoutly joined the group. When they reached a village, they invited them to join them in their customary hearty meal. Thus they traveled along for four days. Then one day Blessed Dominic said to his companion, “Brother Bertrand, I feel terrible eating the food provided by these pilgrims and giving them no spiritual food in return. If it is agreeable to you, let us kneel down and ask the Lord to make us understand and speak their language, so that we may be able to speak to them about the Lord Jesus Christ.” Then, to the amazement of the pilgrims, they began to speak intelligibly to them in German and, for the next four days, they went with them speaking about the Lord Jesus until they reached Orleans. There the German pilgrims expressed a desire to go to Chartres, so they said farewell to them on the road to Paris humbly commending themselves to their prayers. The next day the Blessed Dominic said to Friar Bertrand, “Behold, Brother, we are entering Paris; if the brethren learned of the miracle which the Lord worked for us, they would take us for saints instead of the sinners we are, and if it became known to people in the world, we would seriously expose ourselves to vainglory. Therefore I forbid you under obedience to tell it to anyone before my death. This he did. For it was only after the death of our holy father that Brother Bertrand told this to the pious friars (Frachet II,10).
Once, on a journey, the servant of God happened to meet a certain religious whose saintly manner he could see, but whose speech and language were utterly foreign to him. Saddened by the fact that he could not refresh himself by conversing about divine things with this holy person, he prayed and obtained from the Lord the favor that each one would speak in the language of the other. By thus conversing, they were able to understand each other for the three days they traveled together (C. 44).
From there [Paris] he sent Brother Peter Seila to Limoges, where, after Paris, he established the first Dominican convent in France (Chronica I, p. 324). After the demise of the glorious prince Simon, Count de Montfort, who died at Toulouse in the army of the Lord the day after the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, in the year 1217 [actually 12181, the Blessed Father Dominic, who was dispersing the brethren, sent Brother Peter Seila to Limoges, as I have frequently heard from the latter man, since I made profession into his hands. When he argued about his own ignorance and lack of books, since he had only one part of the homilies of Blessed Gregory, [St. Dominic] said, “Go, my son, and go confidently. Twice a day I shall present you to God. Have no doubts; you shall win many persons for God and shall bear much fruit” (Salagnac I, 8).
60. After a brief stay in Paris, he set out for Bologna. Here, at St. Nicholas’, he found a large group of brethren being nourished in the discipline of Christ under the diligent care of Brother Reginald. They all received him with joy and treated him with the respect accorded to a father. He remained there for a while to direct the growth of these tender plants with spiritual exhortations and example.
A certain priest noticed that Blessed Dominic and his friars dedicated themselves fervently in preaching without any concern about temporal rewards and busied themselves about spiritual matters to the exclusion of all else. So, in a spirit of pious emulation, he began to desire their manner of life, considering that he would be happy, if he could follow them and imitate them to some degree. Accordingly, he thought of completely abandoning all things and following in their footsteps, provided he could get a book of the New Testament, which he judged necessary for preaching. As he was turning these matters over in his mind, he beheld a young man carrying under his cloak a book he wanted to sell. When the priest looked to see what the book was, he found that it was the New Testament and gladly purchased it at once. But now that he had the book, he experienced a temptation and began to wonder whether he should carry out the resolution he had formed in his mind and whether God was truly pleased with it. As one thought followed another, it occurred to him to look to God for an answer in that book; so, after a prayer to God, he closed the book and, tracing the sign of the cross on it, he pronounced the name of God. Then he opened the book and cast his eyes conjecturally on the chapter that first offered itself upon his opening the book. He happened to open it to the Acts of the Apostles apropos of the messengers sent by the Holy Spirit from Cornelius to St. Peter. “Arise, therefore, get thee down and go with them, doubting nothing, for I have sent them” (Acts 10:20). Then, as though reassured by this divine message, he at once left the world and followed the brethren (F. 42).
On another occasion, when the number of brethren at the convent of Bologna had become very large, a certain legate of the Apostolic See, Conrad, the Bishop of Parto, happened to come to Bologna. The brethren received him into their convent and treated him with all due honor, but a thought began to plague his mind concerning this Order. For he wondered what purpose was to be served by this new and unusual type of religious life: was it from men or from God? As he sat in the church of the friars on the chair provided for him, he asked for a book and was offered a Missal. After making the sign of the Cross he opened it and on the top of the first page he read: “Laudare, benedicere et praedicare” [“Praise, bless, and teach”]. Thus reassured by what seemed an answer from heaven, he put aside all his scruples and doubts and became certain. Then, with all the fervor of his soul, he accepted the friars and said, “Although I wear the external habit of another profession I wear yours internally about my soul. Be assured that I am entirely yours. I am of your order and I recommend myself to you with all my affection” (F. 43).
Likewise, the Lord William, then [Bishop] of Modena, but now Cardinal of Sabina, seeking to experience the way of life of St. Dominic, asked him to receive him as a brother in the Order. The Saint agreed and confided the affairs of the Order to him as to a father. The same bishop fervently continues to exercise [this function] even now (8) (Bartholomew 17).
How He Obtained Continency of the Flesh for a Certain Dean. A certain dean from France, on his way to Rome, found the servant of God, Dominic, preaching at Modena. Going up to him, he spoke about the salvation of his soul and, among other things, sadly mentioned what he considered would inevitably be his ruin, namely, that he could not master temptations of the flesh and that, on their account, he practically despaired of undertaking other good works. But the man of God, supported by his own complete trust in God, replied, “Go and act manfully from now on and never despair of God’s mercy; I myself will obtain continence of the flesh for you from the Lord.” Those were his words, and later events clearly proved how true they were, for this man, previously impure and so easy to yield, became chaste and continent. Thus did the promise of the servant agree with that of his Lord: “Amen, I say to you, if you ask the Father anything in my name, He will give it to you” [John 16:23], if it is for the right purpose (C. 15).
Likewise, I have read in the book of an older brother that in Lombardy, upon the petition of some persons, [St. Dominic] visited a certain gravely ill jurist, [who was] a great lawyer and a usurer. In the presence of the [attending] priest, [Dominic] asked him to command that his usuries be returned. He refused to acquiesce, saying that he did not want to leave his sons and daughters paupers; and so St. Dominic left with the others and with the Body of Christ. Now the [jurist’s] friends were confused; they asked him to promise until he received Communion, lest he should not have Christian burial. He did this, thinking that he was deceiving them. However, although they believed him, after he received Communion, he started to cry out that he was wholly burning and that hell was put into his mouth: “Look! All of me is burning up!” And, having raised his hand, he said, “Look! All of it is on fire!” And [he made the same reference] to his other members. This is the way in which he died and was consumed (Bourbon, no. 421). Pretending to be in the state of grace, a certain usurer came for Communion. After Blessed Dominic gave him the host, it seemed to burn his tongue like a live coal. Filled with remorse, he repented and restored everything he had unjustly acquired (Frachet II, 19).
He Sends Master Reginald to Paris
61. While at Bologna, he transferred Brother Reginald to Paris, much to the dismay of those children whom he had so recently begotten in Christ through the word of the Gospel and who wept at being so suddenly snatched from the breasts of their accustomed mother.
62. But all this was being done under divine influence. Indeed, Master Dominic’s practice of sending brethren here and there into various parts of God’s Church, as noted above, was so remarkable for the confident and unhesitating manner with which it was done, even against the advice of some who deemed it unfeasible, that he seemed to be sure of the future or to have a mind which was being guided by a special revelation. And who can deny this, when one considers that the few brethren he had in the beginning were, for the most part, simple men of ordinary learning? To the children of this world, who judge according to their own prudence, the practice of dispersing these brethren in small groups throughout the Church seemed to presage failure, rather than success , for his venture. Nevertheless, the ones he sent he aided with his prayers, and the Lord’s power was present to make them increase.
They brought many persons to repentance by using just the text of the seven canonical epistles which, along with St. Matthew’s Gospel, St. Dominic often recommended to the brethren (Frachet IV, 1).
Master Reginald’s Arrival in Paris and His Death
63. Accordingly, Brother Reginald, of happy memory, reached Paris and, by word and example, applied himself with unremitting zeal to preaching Jesus Christ and Him Crucified. But God soon took him from this life after a brief period of great accomplishment. He was suddenly lay low by a sickness which proved fatal, and he died in the Lord. While he lived, he showed himself a champion of poverty and lowliness, which he exchanged for the glorious riches of the house of God. He was buried in the Church of St. Mary of the Fields, since the brethren had not yet acquired a burial place of their own.
Blessed Reginald’s Remark on How Pleased He was With the Order
64. Even now I recall how Brother Matthew, who had known him as a renowned, but fastidious person in the world, once asked him, “Have you ever regretted putting on this habit, Master Reginald?” To this he gave the modest reply, “I do not consider myself worthy of anything in this Order, for I have been nothing but pleased with it.”
A Vision After His Death.
65. On the very night when the soul of this saintly man returned to its Lord, I seemed to see a group of the brethren being conducted through the midst of the sea in a ship. After a while the ship sank, but they reached the shore safely. At the time I was not yet wearing the habit of the Order, although I had made my profession into Master Reginald’s hands. But in looking back, I deem that the ship was Brother Reginald, whom the brethren of his time considered to be the bearer of their burdens.
66. Before Master Reginald’s death, another person had a vision of a clear fountain drying up and, in its place, two other fountains suddenly gushing forth. Whether this vision meant anything I do not presume to say, since I know that, at Paris, Master Reginald received the profession of only two persons. Of these I was the first; the other was Brother Henry, who later became prior at Cologne. I recall seeing none in this life more gracious than Brother Henry, a true vessel of honor and of grace whom I hold dearer than any other mortal. Perhaps it will not be too much to describe the virtue of this man, who made such rapid progress in perfection that he has already entered into the rest of the Lord.
Brother Henry: How and Where He Was Educated
67. This Brother Henry, then, was well-born according to worldly standards and, at an early age, became a canon in the church of Utrecht.(9) Here he was carefully educated during his boyhood in the teaching and fear of the Lord by a holy and very religious canon of that Church. For while this same good and just man was crucifying his own flesh in order to resist the attractions of this world and to lay up a treasure in heaven, he was training the tender soul of Henry in all the works of virtue by making him wash the feet of the poor, frequent the church, abhor vice, despise luxury, and love purity. And he, being a well-gifted lad, showed himself quick to learn and easy to train in virtue. As a result, his moral growth kept pace with his years so well that, had you lived with him, you would have regarded him as an angel and credited him with an innate holiness.
68. In due time, he came to Paris and applied himself at once to the study of theology, for he had a penetrating and well-ordered mind. He and I shared lodgings at Paris and this companionship united our hearts in a strong and pleasant friendship.
69. During this time, Brother Reginald, of happy memory, came to Paris to preach. As I listened to him, God’s grace moved me and I vowed inwardly to enter that Order, for I was convinced that, for me it was the sure road to salvation upon which I had often reflected, even before I knew any of the brethren. After I was satisfied that my resolve was firm, I began to consider how I might induce the companion and friend of my soul to make a like vow, since it was plain to me that he was endowed by nature and by grace for the ministry of preaching. Although he rejected the idea, I continued to press him.
70. At least he agreed to make his confession to Brother Reginald and take his advice. When he returned, he opened the Book of Isaias at random, and his eyes fell on the passage: “The Lord hath given me a learned tongue that I should know how to uphold by word him that is weary. He awaketh in the morning, in the morning he awakeneth my ear that I may hear him as a master. The Lord God hath opened my ear and I do not resist: I have not gone back.” These words of the prophet, I explained to him, were like a voice from heaven describing his talents, since his was a remarkable eloquence. I, therefore, urged him to submit himself to the yoke of obedience. Further on we read the passage: “Let us stand together,” as though we were being counselled never to desert each other in this splendid kind of society.
71. Later on, when I was at Bologna and he at Cologne, he recalled this occasion and wrote to me: “Where, now, is our ‘Let us stand together,’ you at Bologna and I at Cologne?” But I wrote him: “What, may I ask, is more meritorious or more calculated to enrich our crown than to spurn this life for the love of Christ by sharing the poverty which He showed in Himself and which His apostles observed?” [Before entering the Order, however,] he was convinced in mind, but his slothful resistent will inclined him not to enter.
How Henry’s Will Was Moved
72. Therefore, that same night we went to the church of the Blessed Virgin for Matins and remained until dawn, praying and entreating the Mother of the Lord to have his will bent in line with his convictions. But when it seemed to him that his prayers would be of no avail and he could still feel his hardness of heart, he began to pity himself and said, “O Blessed Virgin, I now see that you shall not hear me. There is no place for me among the poor of Christ.” For he did have a genuine desire for that perfection which he knew could be found in voluntary poverty, because he had once been instructed by the Lord how secure poverty would make him before the strict judge.
73. For he once imagined himself before the tribunal of Christ and saw a large multitude of those waiting to be judged and those who were judging with Christ. As he waited, he felt secure and innocent of any crime, until one of the judges pointed to him and said, “You, what have you ever done for the Lord?” This stern examination terrified him, for he had no answer to give. Then the vision left him. From then on he would have sought the heights of voluntary poverty, if his reluctant will could be turned.
74. But, as I said, he was walking to the door of the church reproaching himself, when the foundations of his heart were shaken by Him Who hath regard to the humble. Tears came to his eyes and a new resolve to his spirit. He began to pour out his soul to the Lord, so that all its hardness was crushed by the fervor of his spirit. Then the sweet yoke of Christ, which, before, seemed unbearable, but now purified at the presence of the oil, became light and pleasant. He arose in the spirit of that fervor and went straight way to Brother Reginald, before whom he made a vow. After that he came to me with the tears still on his angelic face. When I asked him where he had been, he answered, “I have vowed a vow to the Lord and I will pay it.” But we delayed our novitiate until Lent. In the meanwhile we gained one of our companions, Brother Leo, who later succeeded Brother Henry as prior.
The Entrance of Brothers Jordan, Henry and Leo
75. On Ash Wednesday, when the imposition of ashes reminds the faithful of their origin from and return to dust, we decided that a suitable way to begin the season of penance would be to fulfill the vow we had made to the Lord. Now none of our companions where we lived knew of our plan. So when Brother Henry left his lodgings and one of his companions asked him where he was going, he answered, “To Bethany.” He did not understand what Henry meant, but later on he did, when he saw Henry enter Bethany, which means “the house of obedience.” The three of us met at Saint-Jacques and, while the brethren were chanting “Immutemus habitu,” we presented ourselves before them, much to their surprise, and, putting off the old man, we put on the new, thus suiting our actions to what they were singing.
76. After Brother Henry’s induction, the holy man who had trained him, together with two other good spiritual men of the same church, was much disturbed. These three had a deep love for Henry and, knowing nothing of the Order he had entered, they were worried about the welfare of the young man for whom they had great hopes. Accordingly they had just about decided that one of them would go to Paris to save him from this indiscretion and bring him back. But one of them said, “Let’s not be hasty. Tonight, as we are praying, we can ask the Lord to make known His will in the matter.” And so that night, as they prayed, one of them heard a voice from on high that said, “It has been done by the Lord and cannot be changed.” Thus assured, they worried no more but, instead, wrote to him at Paris encouraging him to persevere confidently and describing the manner and order of this revelation. I myself read their kind, gentle letter so filled with piety.
77. This is the Brother Henry whom the Lord blessed with such marvelous grace in his talks to the clergy of Paris and whose moving eloquence pierced the hearts of his audience. As far as I can recall, the clergy of Paris had never before witnessed so young, so forceful and so polished a preacher.
78. The God of all graces had endowed the vessel of election with many signal virtues. He was prompt in his obedience, firm in his patience, gentle in his meekness, pleasant in his gaiety, and diffuse in his charity. Nor did he lack nobility of character, sincerity of heart, and virginal purity; indeed, through his entire life, he neither looked at or touched a woman for an unchaste motive. His manner of conversation was modest, his tongue eloquent, his mind penetrating, his countenance pleasing, his bearings graceful, his style of writing smooth, his dictation skillful, and the melody of his voice was that of an angel. He was never seen to be sad or disturbed, but always calm and cheerful. Justice had freed him of all severity and hardness, and mercy claimed him as her own. He was so amiable towards everyone and could so easily win hearts that, if you conversed with him but for a little while, you would feel that there was none he liked more than you. Since God had poured out His grace upon him, it was not strange that everyone was attracted to him. He excelled everyone in all qualities I have mentioned; yet he did not permit himself to become puffed up, for he had learned from Christ to be meek and humble of heart.
Brother Henry’s Mission to Cologne
79. In time he was sent to be prior at Cologne. How rich was the harvest of virgins and widows and true penitents that his continual preaching reaped for Christ, and how carefully he kindled in many hearts the fire which the Lord had come to cast upon the earth, all of Cologne is still a witness. He preached that, since the name of Jesus is the name above all names, it is most worthy of all reverence and adoration, so that even today, when this name is pronounced in prayer or in preaching, many devout hearts are aroused to show some sign of reverence.
Brother Henry’s Death
80. At length his life drew to a close and he shut his eyes in the Lord as his brethren prayed. Before his death, while the ceremonies of Extreme Unction were being held, he recited the litanies and prayers along with the brethren. When these were finished, he spoke to them with such tender devotion that they wept. Who can count the tears shed at his death, or the weeping and sobbing of widows and virgins, the sighs of his brethren and friends!
81. Many other things about him come to mind, but I shall confine myself to just one of the many things which occurred after his death and were told to me under the truth of confession and by holy and trustworthy persons.
82. There lived in the city of Cologne a saintly woman who loved Brother Henry with a tender devotion and had once asked him to promise that, should he precede her in death, he would appear to her. He agreed on condition that God so willed. After Henry’s death, she waited eagerly and longingly to see him, especially since she was being troubled by a temptation from the devil, who caused her to have grave doubts about whether the souls of the dead continued to live after this life or returned to nothing. But, in spite of her hopeful longing, he did not appear. Then she suffered a grievous temptation and said in her heart, “Surely if there were any truth in what we have been told about the future life, the one whom I venerated with such affection would by now have answered me.”
83. As she grew increasingly weary of heart under these trials, Brother Henry appeared to a certain religious man. “Go to this woman,” he said, calling her by a name the man had not known was hers, for, until Brother Henry explained otherwise, he had assumed that the name her family had used out of endearment ever since her childhood was her baptismal name. “Go to her,” he said, “and, when you greet her for me, say to her, ‘Such and such works you have been accustomed to doing, do them no longer, but, from now on, do this!'” The works he referred to were so secret that none but she knew of them. Then that good man noticed a bright and gleaming jewel on Henry’s breast and, behind him, a wall inlaid with precious stones. As he contemplated them, he asked, “My Lord, what does that bright jewel on your breast mean, and this precious wall?” But he answered, “This jewel signifies the purity of heart which I observed in the world; when I look at it, it affords me great consolation. This wall is the part of the Lord’s palace I built during my life by counselling, by preaching, and by hearing confessions.” Then the Virgin Mary, Queen of Heaven and Mother of Mercy, appeared. As she drew near, Brother Henry said to the man, “This is Our Lady, the Mother of the Savior; it was she who chose me for her servant. Think how refreshing it is to be in her company.” With that he joined her and departed.
84. Then that good man went to the woman and told her everything, especially the secret works the very mention whereof would prove the truth of his appearance.This news brought her great consolation and relief from her severe trials.
85. But she was to be much more consoled by something she herself experienced later. For one day, as she was reclining on a chair in her room piously re-reading the letters Brother Henry had written her at various times, her eyes fell upon the words: “Recline upon the sweet breast of Jesus to satisfy the thirst of your soul.” Moved at the memory of these words as though he were still alive and speaking them in her presence, she was rapt in spirit and saw herself standing at one side near the heart of Jesus and Brother Henry at the other. During this rapture she enjoyed so deep and marvelous a draught of divine consolation that she became completely inebriated by it. And when her maid-servants came and shouted for her to come and eat, because her husband was waiting for her at the table, she heard nothing, until she awakened from this joyful intoxication of spirit and returned to her senses. Having completed this digression on Brother Henry, let us continue.
How He Delivered a Sister Béné From Diabolical Obsession. I shall tell something which I relate all the more confidently because I write it with all the more devotion and assurance; I heard it from the handmaid of Christ, Sister Béné, the very person concerned. For this woman was, for a long time, very worldly and given to the pleasures of the flesh. The punishment of her guilt finally came upon her, when an evil spirit began to afflict her grievously for long periods of time. Now she happened to be near the church in which the Friars Preachers were then living in Florence. She went there one day and the man of God, Dominic, first of all brought her to repent by his urgings and later on, saddened by the way she was being harrassed, prayed that the evil spirit depart from her. As a result, this woman, who scarcely had a moment’s peace for days at a time, was not bothered by these vexations for more than a year. But although she had been set free from these annoyances of the flesh, she felt herself becoming more depressed in spirit, so that the curing of her body seemed to have been turned into a sickness of her mind. As a result, she began to slip more and more from the service of God, as the surging temptations of the flesh began to increase and attract her. When she explained this to the man of God and he saw that the benefit he had obtained for her was becoming an occasion of her ruin, he gently asked her whether she wished to be restored to her former condition. “Then, my daughter,” he said, “I shall ask the Lord to do what will best contribute to your salvation.” So it came to pass some time later that the evil spirit again received power over the flesh of this handmaid of Christ for the good of her soul, but the vexations which previously had been a punishment of her guilt now became a remedy against her former manner of life and a source of merits (C. 46).
How He Foretold the Conversion to the Order of Brother Hugh di Sesto, Who Had Formerly Persecuted It. There lived in Florence a certain Hugh di Sesto, then a secular cleric, but now one of the elderly Friars of the Order, because the church in which he was a cleric had been granted to the Friars. In the early days of the Order, when the Friars were living for a time in that church, he vigorously persecuted the Order, as though he were a tyrant. In the same parish lived a woman who is now Sister Benedetta, but was then known as Béné, about whom we spoke in an earlier narrative. She had been newly converted to God from the world and this cleric, in his hatred of the Order, heaped abuse upon her every day. When she made frequent sorrowful complaints about this to the man of God, Dominic, he consoled her gently by telling her “to act patiently, my daughter, and try to recognize that the one persecuting you and the Order so insolently will soon be a good Friar of the Order and endure many labors in it for a long time.” How true this was, for later events entirely justified everything that the man of God foretold (C. 52).
The Miracle of the Bread Received from Heaven at San Sisto. When the Friars were still living at the square of San Sisto in Rome, they endured many privations, even of necessities, because, as yet, the Order was not well known. One day it happened that the procurator of the Friars, Brother James di Melle, a Roman by birth, had no bread to put out for the friars. Moreover, the brethren sent out to beg came across many priests and levites, but very few Samaritans, as they begged from door to door in their accustomed manner. As a result, they hadn’t much, in fact precious little, bread to carry back. As the meal hour approached, the procurator came to explain his plight to the servant of God, Dominic, who was there at the time. But he rejoiced in spirit and, with a happy smile, praised God and, as though strengthened by a confidence infused from on high, commanded that the little they had be divided and set on the tables. At that time there were about forty friars in the convent. When the signal was given, the friars went to the refectory and joyfully sang the prayer before meals. Then they sat down in the order of religion and were cheerfully breaking the bits of bread they found before them, when suddenly two young men, who looked very much alike, entered the refectory, each carrying suspended about his neck a garment folded so as to form a basket which was full of bread, such as only the baker who sent them could make. They distributed the bread in silence and, when they reached the table of the man of God, Dominic, they vanished so suddenly that none ever knew whence they had come or whither they went. When the youths were gone, the man of God, Dominic, gestured to the brethren with his hands and said, “Eat now, my brethren.” No one ever doubted that this favor was obtained from heaven through the merits of God’s servant, Dominic, as many of those then present still testify to the brethren (C. 37).
How the Same Miracle Was Repeated and How He Cured a Brother on the Point of Death at San Sisto. Another time, under like circumstances, the same miracle of obtaining bread miraculously took place in the same city through the merits of the same servant of God, Dominic. The same procurator, Brother James, whom I consider worthy of belief, was again involved and I heard him tell of it later (C. 38).
From the same person, I heard, also, something else no less worthy of mention. It concerned something that happened to him at the same place through the same man of God, Dominic. He told of the time when he was seriously ill with a sickness which daily grew worse until his nature surrendered entirely and he was on the verge of dying. After the ceremonies of Extreme Unction, the brethren grouped around him to protect his departing soul with their prayer. They were not a little sad, facing the loss of a brother so much needed by them at that time, for they had no other brother so well known in the city of Rome. Then the kindly father, greatly moved with compassion for his children, told them to leave and close the doors behind them. Then he prostrated himself over the body of the dying friar, measuring himself over him member for member as another Elias, and forcibly holding back the departing spirit with his prayers. Then, summoning the brethren, he led the fully recovered brother by the hand and restored him safe and sound to their care. In this event, we see repeated by his servant the very things which was done by our Lord for the mother-in-law of St. Peter (C. 39).
How He Foresaw the Bodily Death of Two Brothers and the Spiritual Death of Two Others. Again, while the friars were still living at San Sisto in Rome and the man of God, Dominic, was among them, he seemed to receive a sudden inspiration from the Lord and summoned the friars to chapter. There he publicly announced that, very shortly, four of them would die: two a bodily death and two a spiritual death. Not long after, the event matched the prediction, for, within a short time, two of them paid their debt of the body and went to the Lord, but two other returned to the world and left the Order completely (C. 54).
The First Chapter at Bologna
86. In the year of our Lord 1220, the first general chapter of this Order was held at Bologna, and I was sent from Paris with three brethren to attend, for Master Dominic had written that the Paris house was to send four brethren to the Bologna Chapter. At that time I had not yet been two months in the Order.
87. During this chapter, it was decreed, by the general consent of the brethren, that a general chapter would be held at Bologna one year and at Paris the next, but that the one scheduled for the coming year would be at Bologna. It was decided, too, that our brethren would no longer retain any possessions or revenues, not even what they now held in the Toulouse area. Many other constitutions still in vogue today, too, were formulated.
How He Foretold the Conversion of Brother Conrad and Marvelously Converted Him by His Prayers. The next thing I have to tell came to me on the trustworthy testimony of a much revered man, the Bishop of Alatri, who, after repeated urgings, sent a record of it signed by his own hand to Brother John of Colonna, then prior of the brethren in the Roman Province. While Brother John was still prior of the Cistercian monastery of Casa-Maria, he was sent into Germany by Pope Honorius of holy memory. On the way, he came to Bologna and visited the blessed man of God, Dominic, for whom he had acquired a strong affection, when he knew him in Rome. At that time, there was in Bologna a teacher named Conrad, a German, whom the brethren wanted very much to enter the Order. Now, on the vigil of the Assumption of the Blessed Mary, the man of God, Dominic, was holding a private and consoling conference with our prior, whom he dearly loved. As he spoke in familiar confidence about the things of God and the joys of the life in heaven, he had occasion to say, “I am going to tell you something I have never told anyone else. Up to now I have never in my life asked anything of God that I have not obtained as He promised.” The prior was not a little surprised at this and, knowing of the desire the brethren entertained in regard to the conversion of Master Conrad, he added confidently, “Then, father, ask Him to give Master Conrad to the Order, because the friars are very eager for him to enter.” To this he replied, “Good father, the thing you suggest is not easy. But if you agree to pray with me tonight, I am confident in the Lord that we shall not be cheated of our request.” Accordingly, when Compline was over and the brethren were prepared to take their rest, the man of God, remained in the church, where the prior was present and could see him. There he spent the night in prayer, as was his custom. Now Matins of the feast had been solemnly celebrated earlier and, as day was dawning, the friars had assembled to chant Prime. When the cantor intoned “Jam lucis orto sidere,” behold a new star of pure light, Master Conrad, was seen suddenly to enter and prostrate himself at the feet of the Blessed Dominic to ask for the habit of the Order and remain until he received it. He was accepted at once into the community. Thus did Almighty God indicate in very deed how the words, and then the prayers, of his servant, Dominic, were not without fruit (C. 58).
He Raises to Life a Certain Architect at San Sisto. In the same place, a certain architect whom the brethren had hired was working under a crypt, when the ceiling collapsed upon him and, after lying for some time under the fallen debris of the enclosure, he died. The brethren ran to the scene of the unfortunate accident, sad beyond measure. They were concerned, first, about the uncertain condition of the dead man’s status, and then about their own future among the people now clamoring against them on account of a report making its rounds among them; for so little was known about the Order at that time that its reputation among the people could easily be harmed. But the saintly man of God, Father Dominic, whose heart was overflowing with trust in the Lord, could not bear to see his children so sad. He ordered the dead body brought to him from the cavern and, by virtue of his prayers, restored him at once to life and to health (C. 36).
Brother Jordan’s Appointment as Prior of Lombardy; Brethren Sent to England
88. In 1221 the general chapter at Bologna appointed me first prior of the Lombardy Province, even though I had been in the Order only one year and my roots were not so firmly planted as they should have been, for I ought to have learned to rule my own imperfection before being set over others. This was also the chapter which sent a group of brethren, with Brother Gilbert, as Prior, to England. I was not present at this chapter.
Brother Everard, Archdeacon at Lyons
89. About this time, the Paris priory welcomed Brother Everard, a man of great virtue, indefatigable labor, and remarkable prudence. Since he had enjoyed such great prestige, his decision to assume a life of poverty edified everyone who had known him in the world.
90. Since he wanted to see Master Dominic, whom he seemed to love with tender affection, he traveled with me to Lombardy. Bearing in his body the poor and needy Christ, he preached at all the places we traversed in France and Burgundy where he had been known at one time or another. But he fell sick and, at Lausanne, where he had once been elected bishop but refused, his sojourn in this miserable vale of tears came to a sudden, but very happy end.
91. Shortly before his death, when his physicians were sure that the end was imminent, but would not tell him, he said to me, “If the physicians think I am going to die, why don’t they tell me? Let them hide the news of death from those who find it unpleasant to face. I am not afraid to die. Death holds no terrors for a person consoled by the thought that, if the earthly home of this wretched flesh is destroyed, he will receive an eternal home not made by hands, in heaven.” And so he died, commending his body to the earth and his spirit to its Creator. To me a marvelous indication of his happy death was that, instead of being depressed in spirit and sad of heart, I experienced a feeling of fervor and gaiety, as though being instructed by my soul not to mourn for one who had entered into his joy.
The Death of Master Dominic
92. Meanwhile, at Bologna, Master Dominic’s pilgrimage on this earth was drawing to a close and he became seriously ill. On his deathbed he summoned twelve of the more prudent brethren and, after exhorting them to be zealous in promoting the Order and persevering in holiness, he warned them against any questionable association with women, especially the young, whose attractions can be a snare for souls not solidly rooted in purity. “Behold,” he said, “up to this hour the grace of God has kept my flesh unsullied; yet I confess to not escaping the fault that talks with young women affected my heart more than conversations with those who were older.”
What he had he left them as a legacy. “My very dear brothers,” he said, “this is what I leave to you as a possession to be held by right of inheritance by you, my children. Have charity, preserve humility, and possess voluntary poverty.” What a testament of peace, a testament never to be erased from the memory or modified by any later codicil (F. 50).
93. Before his death he also assured his brethren that he would be of more benefit to them after death than in life, for he knew the one to whom he had entrusted the treasure of his labors and fruitful life. As for the rest, he was certain that there was laid up for him a crown of justice which would increase his power to obtain requests the more firmly it rooted him in the Lord’s power.
94. As a result of fever and dysentery, he grew weaker and weaker, until, at last, that pious soul departed from its body and returned to the Lord, Who had given it. In return for a mournful dwelling, he received the eternal consolation of a home in heaven.
He died in the Lord on the sixth day of August in the year of Our Lord, 1221 (C. 35).
The Vision Brother Guala Saw at the Hour of His Death
95. On the very day and hour that Master Dominic died, Brother Guala, prior of Brescia and later its bishop, was resting in the bell-tower of his convent. As he was about to doze off he saw what appeared to be an opening in the heavens through which two shining ladders had been let down. Christ was standing above one and His Mother above the other. Angels could be seen ascending and descending. Between the two ladders at the very bottom, was a seat upon which someone was sitting who seemed to be one of the brethren, for his face was covered with a capuce, just as we do for burial. Our Lord and His Mother were slowly raising the ladder until the person on the seat reached them. Thereupon he was received into heaven in great splendor amidst a choir of angels. Then the bright opening in the heavens suddenly closed and no more could be seen. Then the friar who had seen this regained his strength, for he had previously been ill and weak, and hurried to Bologna, where he discovered that his vision, which he related to us, had occurred at the very time when the servant of Christ, Dominic, had died.
The Burial of St. Dominic; His Miracles
96. But let us dwell a while on the burial of this blessed man. A short time before his death, it happened that the venerable bishop of Ostia — at that time legate of the Holy See in Lombardy, but now the Supreme Pontiff of the Roman See, Pope Gregory — had come to Bologna. In his wake came many nobles and prelates of the Church. When he learned of the death of Master Dominic, whom he had intimately known and greatly loved as a just and holy man, he decided to officiate at his burial service. Present, too, were many who knew of this blessed man’s happy death, of his holy life, and of the state of eternal immortality he had earned. When the preacher of the occasion talked on contempt of the world, he remarked how safe it is to earn one’s heavenly home and a place of eternal rest by despising the present life, and by leading a lowly life to assure oneself a happy death.
97. Then were awakened the devotion and reverence of the people. Day and night the sick and the infinn came and remained to tell that they had been restored to health. As witness to their cures, they hung over the tomb of this blessed man waxen replicas of eyes, hands, feet, and other parts of the body, depending on the infirmity and the parts of the body restored to health.
98. But, in the midst of all this, scarcely one friar came to give due thanks for this divine generosity. Indeed, some insisted that the miracles should be hushed for fear of seeking gain under pretense of piety. But, in thus allowing a false notion of holiness to sway their judgment, they neglected the general welfare of the Church and buried the glory of God under ground.
99. Yet it is undeniable that, even during his life, he showed great power and worked miracles, many of which were narrated to me. Due to inconsistencies among those who recounted them, they were not committed to writing, for, were they published as reported, they would have only confused the reader. But we can mention a few which we know were related by persons worthy of trust.
100. It happened that, once while he was in Rome, a young man, related to the Lord Cardinal Stephen of Fossa Nuova, was riding recklessly down a steep hill and thrown from his horse. While he was being carried away, it was hard to tell whether he was still alive or dead. As the crowd which had gathered was displaying its grief with wails and lamentations, Master Dominic happened along with Brother Tancred, a good, fervant man and one prior in Rome; in fact, it was he who told me of this incident. Brother Tancred said to him, “Why do you hesitate? Why don’t you call on the Lord? Where is your pity for your neighbor, your confidence in God?” Stirred by these words and inflamed by the fire of his own ardent compassion, he ordered that the young man be brought to a nearby house.(10) There he restored him to life by his prayers and personally led him out of the house in the sight of those who had gathered.
He had expired. That is what I heard from his parents, who lived in the Roman Campagna (Bartholomew, no. 15).
How He Held Back the Rain with a Sign of the Cross
101. The next story was told to me by Brother Bertrand, whose transfer to Paris I have already mentioned. He relates that, when he once accompanied him on a journey, a heavy storm arose and, although the rain had already flooded the fields, Master Dominic made a sign of the Cross which so effectively held back every trace of the rain that, as they walked along, they could see the rain pouring down two or three feet in front of them, but not a single drop so much as touched the hem of their clothing.
102. Many sure tokens of his sanctity, the great number of cures I have heard worked on the bodies of the sick have, up to the present, not been recorded in writing.
103. But more splendid than the miracles were his sublime character and burning zeal, which indisputably proved him a true vessel of honor and grace, a vessel adorned with every precious stone. His mind always retained its usual calm, unless he was stirred by compassion and mercy; and, because a joyful heart begets a cheerful face, he manifested the peaceful harmony within his soul by his cordial manner and his pleasant countenance. So steadfastly did he adhere to a decision reached before God that he seldom, if ever, changed a resolve born of due reflection. And, while the joy which shone in his features bore witness to a clear conscience, the light of his countenance was not cast down to the ground.
104. This cheerfulness is what enabled him so easily to win everyone’s affection, for, as soon as they looked at him, they were captivated. No matter where he happened to be, whether on a journey with his companions or in the house of a stranger, or even in the presence of princes, prelates, or other dignitaries, his conversation was always edifying and abounded with allusions which would draw his hearers toward love for Christ and away from love of the world. At all times his words and his works proclaimed him a man of the Gospel. During the day, none was more affable, none more pleasant to his brethren or associates.
105. At night none was more instant in prayer or watching. In the evening, tears found a place with him and, in the morning, gladness. The daytime he shared with his neighbor, but the night he dedicated to God, for he knew that, in the daytime, God has commanded His mercy, and a canticle to Him in the night. He wept frequently; indeed, his tears were his bread day and night. In the day he shed tears during his Mass and, at night, during his untiring vigils.
A certain discreet and virtuous friar declared that he had observed our blessed father for seven nights to see how he spent his nightwatches. He tells us that, standing at one time, then kneeling, then prostrating himself on the ground, he continued his prayer until he felt sleepy. Then he would rouse himself and visit one altar after another. This would go on until midnight. Then, quietly, he would go where the brethren were sleeping and cover anyone requiring it. After that he returned to the church and continued praying. The same friar said, also, that, often when serving him at Mass, he noticed the tears flowing from his eyes as he turned to take the wine and water after receiving the Body of the Lord.
Often when the Lord’s body was being elevated during Mass, he became rapt in spirit as though he saw Christ present in the flesh. For this reason, he did not hear Mass with the others for a long time (C. 61).
106. It was his custom to spend so much of the night in the church that he hardly seemed to have a bed in which he rested. At night he continued his prayer and watching as long as his weak body could endure it. When sleep overcame his tired body and slackened spirit, he would rest his head, after the manner of the patriarch Jacob, upon a stone before the altar or some other place. After a brief rest, he would rouse his spirit and continue his fervent prayer.
Using an iron chain, he administered the discipline upon himself three times every night; one was for himself, the second for sinners still living in the world, and the third for the souls suffering in purgatory (C. 61).
107. All men were swept into the embrace of his charity, and, in loving all, he was beloved by all. His abundant piety spent itself in caring for his neighbor and in showing compassion to the wretched, for he claimed it his right to rejoice with the joyful and to weep with the sorrowful. What pleased everyone, too, was that, in the simplicity of his way, no word or work of his ever showed a trace of insincerity or pretense.
108. As a true friend of poverty, he wore shabby clothing. In food as well as in drink, he observed the strictest moderation, the firm mastery he held over the flesh enabling him to avoid delicacies and to be content with simple fare. He diluted the wine, so as neither to lose its benefit to the body nor to allow it to dull his fine and keen spirit.
Praise for the Man of God, St. Dominic
109. Who would be able to imitate perfectly the virtue of this man? We can but admire his example and permit it to show us the inertia of our own times. But for anyone else to be able to accomplish what he accomplished would be a work, not of human power, but of a special grace of God’s merciful goodness calling one to a like degree of holiness. Yet who would be worthy of that? Nevertheless we can, as far as possible, my brethren, walk in the steps of our father and, at the same time, give thanks to the Savior, Who has provided for His servants such a leader to follow in this road we travel and through him has regenerated us into the light of this religious state. Let us beseech the Father of mercies that, under the guidance of that Spirit by whom the children of God are led, we, too, by following the paths marked out by our fathers, may deserve to reach the same goal of perpetual felicity and eternal happiness which he has attained and enjoys forevermore. Amen.
A Certain Brother Bernard’s Obsession by a Demon
110. After this account of events which occurred during the lifetime of St. Dominic, we now turn to things which happened later. It will be recalled that I spoke of Brother Everard’s death at Lausanne, as he and I were on our way to Lombardy. After his death, I continued my journey and entered Lombardy in order to carry out the commission assigned me in that province. There I discovered a certain Brother Bernard obsessed by a fierce demon who so tormented him that he raved day and night and disturbed the entire community almost beyond endurance. No doubt God in His mercy had permitted this trial to exercise the patience of His servants.
111. But let us tell how such a scourge came to be visited upon this brother. It seems that, after he came to. us, he suffered much remorse for his sins and desired that the Lord cleanse him by some kind of affliction. Hence he often pondered in his heart the advisability of letting himself be obsessed by a demon, but he recoiled from the thought and could not consent. But after many deliberations he one day experienced such terrible displeasure at his past offenses that he consented in spirit to have his body given over to a demon as a means of purification, as he himself told me. Thus, with God’s permission, the affair he had conceived in his heart at once came to pass.
112. The demon spoke many remarkable things through the mouth of this brother. For, although the obsessed was neither learned in theology nor versed in the Holy Scriptures, such profound statements about the sacred writings issued from his mouth as to rank with the best insights of St. Augustine. But, through pride, he glorified overmuch if anyone but gave ear to his words.
113. I recall that, on one occasion, he proposed to me that, if I would desist from preaching, he would stop being a trial to the brethren. To this I replied, “Be it far from me to enter into a covenant with death or to make a pact with hell. For, in spite of your intentions, the friars will . . .[missing trans.]
114. Again, he cleverly took refuge in soft words to conceal his frequent attempts to sow seeds of his wickedness in our hearts. When I noticed this, I said to him, “Why do you repeat the same tricks so often? We are not unaware of your plans.” He answered, “And I know those imaginings of yours which you first scorn and reject, but, after a while, you will succumb to my wickedness and gladly admit them.” Here is a lesson for the soldiers of Christ, “whose struggling is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.” May they learn from the unremitting efforts of their enemies to persevere in their fervor and overcome any sluggish inclinations to sloth.
115. Furthermore, at times he could use such stirring language as to seem to be preaching. On these occasions the piety with which he spoke and the depths sounded by his words could bring tears from the hearts of his hearers. Again, the demon would surround the body of the obsessed brother with the sweetest of aromas such as no perfumer could concoct. He also subjected me to the same kind of wicked temptation, for he pretended to be tortured by these odors, as though they were being caused by an angel from heaven. Yet all the time it was he who laid this snare, in order to arouse a rash presumption of personal holiness.
116. On another occasion he was greviously afflicting this brother in our presence, but feigned being tormented as he exclaimed in a pained voice, “Notice the odor, notice the odor, notice the odor!” And, as the sweetness of the the odor [the demon] poured upon his brother reached us, his face and voice displayed the horror and offense he wanted us to believe he was enduring. He said to me, “Do you know what is afflicting me now? This brother’s angel has come to comfort him with these fragrances, and the consolation he derives is a source of severe torment to me. But look! I shall draw from my treasure odors of another sort, such as I am wont to produce.” And, with that, he filled the air with a stink of sulphur, hoping that the contrast between these successive odors would deceive us as to their common origin.
117. Then, because he might do the same things to me, I became puzzled. For while I put no stock in its value, I still wondered what to do should that fragrance surround me. I scarcely dared move my hands for fear of spoiling some sweetness of which I was not even conscious. If I held a chalice, as I occasionally did when carrying the host of the Lord’s Body, such a pleasant odor seemed to flow from that chalice that one could be entirely overcome by the power of such sweetness.
118. But the spirit of truth did not allow the wiles of this evil spirit to continue. For one day, as I was preparing for Mass and was attentively reciting the psalm “Judge, O Lord, those that harm me,” which is a very useful psalm for warding off temptation, I suddenly reached the verse “all my bones will say, who is like unto you, O Lord,” when suddenly I noticed such a stronger odor of sweetness about me that even the marrow of my bones seemed to be permeated by it. I was stunned. But, then, as I perceived what a rare and pleasant fragrance it was, I asked the Lord that, in His mercy, He reveal whether this man was an artifice of the devil, so as not to suffer His poor one to be reviled by the powerful, since there was no other helper to be trusted. Hardly had I prayed thus to the Lord — I say this to His honor — than I received an inner illumination so instructive and so reassuring that I hesitated no longer to label the entire affair a hoax of the deceitful enemy.
119. Now that the mystery was solved, I notified that brother about the source of his trials. At once the odors ceased and, from then on, he began to utter foul statements, a striking departure from his former sanctimonious utterances. When I asked him, “What happened to your edifying speeches’?” he retorted that “since the plan of my wickedness is now known, I shall henceforth employ my known wickedness.”
The Institution of the Antiphon “Salve Regina” After Compline
120. This cruel harassment of Brother Bernard was the first occasion that moved us to establish the custom of singing the “Salve Regina” after compline at Bologna. From there the practice spread through the province of Lombardy and eventually became general throughout the Order. How many tears of devotion have sprung from this holy praise of God’s venerable Mother? How many hearts of those who sang or listened has it not melted, how often has it not softened bitterness and installed fervor in its place? Do we believe that the Mother of our Redeemer is pleased with such praises and moved by such cries? A certain man, both religious and trustworthy, has told me that, in spirit, he often saw the Mother of our Lord prostrate before her Son praying for the security of the whole Order, as the friars were singing: “Turn, then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us.” I mention this so that the brethren reading it may be inspired to even greater devotion in praising the Virgin.
The Years Before the Translation
121. In its inscrutable wisdom, divine goodness frequently postpones a benefit, not to deny it, but to await a more fruitful time for bestowing it. Therefore, whether we lay it to God’s providing something better for His Church or to men’s conflicting opinions, there were, at any rate, some who followed the way of simplicity without prudence and insisted that as long as the memory of St. Dominic, the servant of the Most High and founder of the Order of Preachers, was preserved immortal with God, it mattered little if it reached the knowledge of men. For, as I said before, a cloud had covered the hearts of the brethren, so that scarcely one gave God the thanks due to His divine generosity.
122. Thus, after this man of God had died, a popular devotion arose. Many came with various diseases and ailments and, after remaining there for some days and nights, proclaimed that they had completely recovered. They testified to their cures by hanging on this blessed man’s tomb waxen impressions of eyes, hands, feet, and other parts of the body according to the nature of their infirmities and the parts of the body restored to health. He was, indeed, performing miracles on earth to announce the life he had obtained in heaven. But many thought that these miracles should not be acknowledged for fear of seeking gain under pretext of piety. Therefore, they broke those waxen images and threw them on the ground. But, by thus pursuing a course of misguided zeal, they betrayed the general welfare of the Church and buried God’s glory in the earth. Although others deemed otherwise, their pusillanimity kept them from offering any opposition.
123. So it came to pass that the glory of our blessed father Dominic lay dormant and, for almost twelve years, no veneration was paid to his sanctity. A treasure lay forgotten and no use was made of it. Benefits which could have rained down from the Giver of graces were suspended. For the demands of justice require that graces be withheld from those who try to bury the grace and glory of God. The grain bears no fruit if, after sprouting, it is crushed under foot. Dominic’s virtue was trying to sprout, but the negligence of his sons choked it. The God of patience and mercy waited patiently. When no voice was heard and no sign of the honor due to the saintly Dominic was forthcoming, the Lord Himself provided the occasion which roused the brethren from their lethargy.
124. For, as the number of friars at Bologna increased, it became necessary to enlarge the house and church. As new things appear, the old vanish and the body of God’s servant rested under the sky. But what reasonable person would deem concealment in a lowly tomb worthy of a mirror of purity, a vessel of chastity, an instrument of the Holy Spirit? Not once during his entire life, as his last confession in the presence of the twelve priests showed, did the stain of mortal sin banish from his soul the Holy Spirit, its sweet Guest. Therefore, when some of the brethren underwent a change of heart, they discussed transferring his body to a more fitting place, but they were unwilling to do even this without leave of the Roman Pontiff. In many cases, the virtue of humility truly deserves to be extolled. The friars, his own children, could have buried their father by themselves, but, in seeking a higher permission, they obtained something better, namely, the translation of the glorious saint would be, not simple, but canonical.
125. Even now they were remiss, for some of the brethren prolonged their discussion about a suitable sarcophagus; others visited Pope Gregory to inform him of their plans. But he, being a man of very great zeal and faith, chided them severely for having neglected to pay the honor due such a father. Then he declared, “I knew him as a man who was loyal to the entire apostolic rule, and I am sure that, in heaven, he is joined in glory to the apostles.” Then, because his many duties would keep him from being present in person, he wrote the Archbishop of Ravenna, telling him that, along with his suffragans, he should take part in the transference.
The Lord Pope Gregory IX, too, who had [Dominic] inscribed in the catalogue of the saints, gave testimony to his holiness. When the process of [Dominic’s] canonization was presented before him and the lord cardinals, he said that he had as little doubt about [Dominic’s] holiness as [he had] about the holiness of Peter and Paul (Salagnac II, 6).
126. Then Almighty God, after thus dissolving the clouds of indolence through the good offices of the universal pastor of the Church, opened His hands from on high and thundered from heaven with a crash of miracles to make it plain that the whole court of the heavenly Jerusalem was now exulting and applauding the glory to be paid on earth to their great compatriot. For the saints who enjoy the embrace of divine life are not troubled with jealousy, but wish the abundance of their blessings to be shared with everyone. Sight is proclaimed for the blind, steps for the lame, health for the paralyzed, speech for the dumb, flight for the demons, strength for the feverish, and exile for various infirmities. Thus is the holiness of God’s chosen one, Dominic, openly demonstrated. On this solemn occasion, Nicholas of England, long paralyzed, was seen dancing; a case of incurable hemorrhoids was cured by taking a vow, abscesses disappeared. Many other evident cures took place which were recorded and proclaimed during his canonization in the presence of the Supreme Pontiff, his lord cardinals, and all those in attendance. If he is reigning with God, it is not strange to see such marvels wrought by one who, during his mortal life, had his book of faith returned, not even singed by the fire; saw the Virgin Mother appear to a sick friar; held back the rain with the Sign of the Cross; and, with a prayer, lit a candle buried in the mud; snatched from death a novice whose clothing was on fire; expelled a demon by the power of the crucifix; warned two persons of their impending death; predicted death of a soul to two others; and, at Rome, restored two to life; saw Christ calling him on his death-bed; appeared in a crown of glory to a disciple; and was seen seated on a shining ladder being raised to a throne of glory by the Virgin Mary and her Son. The Lord Pope Gregory’s letter of canonization mentions many of his miracles, the insignia and glorious crowns of a virtuous life.
127. The day for celebrating the transference of the famous teacher has arrived. The venerable archbishop and a host of bishops and prelates are present. The devotion of numberless people from many regions is expressed. The armed troops are on hand so as not to lose the protection of this hallowed body. But the brethren are uneasy and fearful; they pray anxiously, “they have trembled for fear, where there was no fear.” Perhaps the body of St. Dominic, so long a prey to rain and heat in its paltry tomb, will be swarming uith vermin; perhaps its horrid stench will offend the populace and arrest their devotion to him. Not knowing what to do, they had only the recourse of abandoning themselves entirely to God. The bishops approach the tomb and the workmen take out their tools. They first remove the stone embedded in the hard cement covering the tomb. They then dig up the wooden box in which the venerable Pope Gregory, as bishop of Ostia, has buried the sacred body.
Present in addition to the brethren were one archbishop, from Ravenna, and four bishops: three from Modena (and later Sabina), Brescia and Bologna respectively, and one other (C. 70). [The Bishops of Modena (later of Sabina), Brescia, Bologna, and Tournai (H. app. 9)], together with more than three hundred brethren who had come for the General Chapter (Chronica I, p. 328).
Present among them was Friar Nicholas of Giovinazzo, a man of no ordinary reputation for knowledge and holiness. In the silence of the dead of night he began to worry about the transference scheduled for the next day. Turning over in his mind the uncertainties of the event about to take place, he wondered whether the Lord would deign to exalt His holy one, Dominic, by some sign. Then, half awake and half asleep, he seemed to behold a man standing by him and saying in a clear voice: “He will receive a blessing from the Lord and mercy from God, his Savior [Psalm 23:5]” (C. 67).
128. From a small opening in the box a marvelous odor issues forth as soon as the stone is removed. The bystanders are struck by its fragrance, but are unable to tell what it is. The lid is removed from the box and lo! a storehouse of perfumes, a paradise of fragrances, a garden of roses, a field of lilies and violets, a hillside of sweet flowers could not match what filled the air. When the wagons make the rounds of Bologna, the city reeks with stench; but when the tomb of glorious Dominic is opened, the air is purified by a fragrance surpassing the sweetness of all aromas. The bystanders are overcome and fall in fear to the ground. Tears inspired by God mingle with feelings of joy; fear and hope arise on the battlefield of the soul and wage marvelous war, as the fragrance continues to spread its sweetness. We were among the many who perceived the sweetness of this odor, and what we saw and sensed we are here describing. And, although we stood for a long time near the body of the Lord’s herald, St. Dominic, we never grew tired of its fragrance. It was a fragrance which dispelled weariness, aroused devotion, and produced marvels. If a hand, a cincture, or anything else touched the body, it acquired an odor which lingered for some time.
129. The body was transferred to a marble monument to be enclosed there within its own fragrance. This remarkable odor emanated from the holy body so that all could understand what a good odor of Christ rested there. The Solemn Mass was celebrated by the Archbishop. Since it was the third day of Pentecost, the Introit sung by the choir was “Receive the joy of your glory.” In their joy, the brethren took these word as sounding from heaven. Trumpets blare and the countless multitude raise their candles. As they march in procession, “Blessed be Jesus Christ” is heard everywhere. This event took place in the city of Bologna on March 24, 1233, in the sixth year of the cycle, Gregory IX being Pope and Frederick II, Emperor.
When it was heard in Spain that Blessed Dominic was canonized, his brother, Brother Mannes, came to Caleruega and, preaching to the people, he suggested that they build a church on the place where Blessed Dominic was born. And he added, “Make a small church now, since it will grow when it pleases my brother.” They accepted [his words] in a spirit of willingness. Now, [although] they were sure about the house where the man of God, Dominic, had been born, they were completely ignorant about the place. God intervened. The pinnacle of the whole roof was opened, and the whole house was inundated, [but] the place where Blessed Dominic was born remained completely dry. When some wise persons noticed this, to make a more certain proof thereof, they drew water from a permanent well, which stands beside the church, [and] threw it on the aforementioned spot. A marvelous thing [happened]. Running in all directions, the water poured from the urn left the place completely dry. Rejoicing, therefore, they built a small church there according to the man’s advice, and, in the place where, by divine instruction, they knew Blessed Dominic had been born, they placed a stone as a memorial. The earth taken from this place [and] carried to various parts of the world, became a remedy for healing various illnesses. Now, as regards the prophecy made by the venerable Brother Mannes concerning the amplification of that small church, we note that it is now completed because the Lord Alphonse, most illustrious King of Castile and Leon, had a monastery built there according to his princely magnificence, [and there] religious women of our Order serve the Lord God (Cerrato, no. 50).
The night before the first celebration of the feast of [our] blessed father, I happened to meet, in Toulouse, a devout man, Brother Aimery from Solminihac, of the Cistercian Order, accompanied by many monks from Grandselve. Since he was an old companion and a faithful friend of Blessed Dominic, I made an insistent request of him, in the house of the Lord Foulques, Bishop of Toulouse, that he come to celebrate the feast on the next day. He exulted spiritually, since he was a spiritual and holy man, and said, “Almighty God, I give Thee thanks that Thou glorify Thy servant, the Lord Dominic, because this whole night I have been with him by a spiritual vision; and, after the accustomed embraces of [fraternal] love, after our conversations about God, he made an insistent request of, and, indeed, commanded, me to come today to the convent of his brethren and take part in his court, since it would be most solemn. And, behold, I shall come with a happy heart and I shall go with joy and exultation.” The following day he came with many others and offered gifts of prayers and praises, in honor of God in His Saint (Salagnac II, 5).
130. Though God alone knows the number of miracles, I mentioned only a few which were most authentic and thoroughly examined for his canonization before the Supreme Pontiff, the reverend Cardinals, and all the clergy and people.
- The Libellus of Jordan of Saxony
- The Letters of St. Dominic
- The Process of Canonization at Bologna
- The Process of Cannonization at Toulouse
- The Nine Ways of Prayer for St. Dominic
- The Miracles of St. Dominic
- The Bull of Canonization of GREGORY IX
- Prayer to St. Dominic
- The Bulls of Approbation
- The Encyclical Letter of Jordan of Saxony
- The Primitive Constitutions of the Order of Friars Preachers