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with their associations. Over the door of' Santa Sabina,
a half-defaced fresco commemorates this visit of the
angel ; within, is still preserved the fragment of the
stone which was hurled at Dominic in prayer ; and the
spot on the pavement where he was wont to take his
scanty rest is marked by a Latin inscription. The room,
too, where Hyacinth and Cestaus received the habit is
yet shown, and the picture that hangs over the choir tells
the story of their singular vocation. This church and
convent have never passed from the hands of the order,
and the freshness of their association with the legendary
history of its founder is unimpaired.

S. Sixtus is no longer inhabited, though still the pro-
perty of the order. The malaria drove the nuns from
its walls so long ago as the year 1575; since which time
they have been established at a new house on the
Quirinal, bearing the name of "San Dominico e Sisto."
But amid its desertion and ruin one monument of its
ancient history yet remains. That little chapter-house,
on whose threshold the widow's son was raised to life,
and where Dominic and the sisters were assembled when
the news came of the death of young Nnpoleon, yet
stands ; one of the very few buildings in the ancient
ecclesiastical style which are yet left in Rome. A fate
has awaited this almost solitary relic of Christian archi-
tecture which we cannot but trust may have results
worthy of its historic interest. In it has been made
the first attempt to restore the early ecclesiastical style,
which has been seen in Rome for three centuries. It
has been recently arranged as a chapel, and its walls
decorated with frescoes, in the antique manner, descriptive
of the life of Dominic. It may have been nothing but a
chance j yet one feels it was a happy and appropriate



chance that the first steps towards a revival of Christian
art should have been made in this monument of the
Dominican order, and by the hands of a Dominican

In 1667, the two convents of S. Clement and S. Sixtus
were granted to the Irish Dominicans, driven out of their
own land by the persecutions of the times. " Inasmuch
as our province of Ireland," says Father Anthony Monroy,
the master-general of the order at that time, " has
endured long and cruel persecutions, so that its sons have
neither house nor place where they may lay their head,
we judge them worthy of all commisseration." The brief
continues by formally ceding to them these two convents
" as a refuge for the miserable province of Ireland," and
also as a plaee of education ; and they have ever since been
assigned to the brethren of that nation.

Some years ago the church and buildings of S. Sixtus,
were covered with paintings and inscriptions commemo-
rative of the many miracles and incidents of S. Dominic's
life which had taken place within their walls; and the
pulpit was shown from which he was accustomed to
preach and propagate the Rosary among his audience ;
but many of these are now destroyed or removed. No
lapse of years or injury of time could however efface the
memory of the saint on that spot, and in the diploma
wherein Clement VIII. restored the locality to the
Dominican order, after it had for some time been alien-
ated, he prefaces the donation by a long summary of
those wonderful events which have made it worthy to be
enumerated among the holy places of Rome. The
diploma is dated the 19th of January, 1611.

* Pere Hyacinth Besson


Dominic leaves Rome. He visits Bologna on his "way to Spain.
Incidents of his journey. He preaches at Segovia. Foundations
there, and at Madrid. His continual prayer.

It was in the autumn of 1218 that Dominic prepared
to leave Home, in order to visit the places where his
children had been forming so many new settlements
during the short year which had passed since their first
dispersion at S. Romain. That memorable year bad seen
them well-nigh planted throughout Europe; and he felt
that the rapid increase of the order rendered his own
presence and inspection of the young houses a thing no
longer to be delayed. It is said also, that a feeling of
humility was one of the motives which urged him to leave-
Home ; his preaching and the fame of his miracles had
gained him a reputation from which he shrank. We
therefore find him, in the month of October, leaving the
city gates, with his stick, his little bundle, and his copy
of the Gospels, in company with a few of his own religious,
a Franciscan, Brother Albert, soon after joining them on
the road ; whilst Hyacinth and his three companions set
out at the same time for the north. Dominic's steps
were directed towards Bologna, where the brethren were
still in their first convent of Santa Maria della Mascharella,
suffering many inconveniences and discouragements, against
which they continued to struggle until the month of
December following, when, as we shall have occaasion to
show, the arrival of Heginald of Orleans gave a fresh spirit
to their undertaking.

Dominic's visit lasted but a few days; yet we can
easily imagine the joy and comfort which it diffused
among them. In the course of his stay the same miracle
which had previously taken place in the refectory of S.
►Sixtus was here renewed ; the brethren were fed by


angels, and the story is told with such a peculiar quaint-
ness by the good Father Ludovico Prelormitano, that we
cannot resist inserting the account in his own words : —
" After that our most sweet father S. Dominic had
finished the arduous business committed to him by the
Holy Pontiff at Rome, he came to Bologna, and lodged
at the Mascharella, where the friars still abode, not being
yet able to go to S. Nicholas by reason of the rooms being
yet too fresh and damp. And it happened on a day that
by reason of the multitude of the brethren, there was no
bread, except a few very little pieces ; and the blessing
being given, the good father raised his eyes and his heart
to God ; and lo ! (januis clausis) the doors being closed,
there appeared two beautiful youths with two baskets of
the whitest loaves, and giving one thereof to each friar,
they so multiplied, that abundantly (ad saturitatem) there
remained enough for three days. And this great miracle
happened twice at Rome and twice at Bologna. The
second time, after the loaves, they gave a good handful of
dried figs. And the brother who made oath of the same
to Pope Gregory IX. added and said, ' That never had he
eaten better figs.' Then replied the Pontiff, ' Grammercy
to Master Dominic, for they were not gathered in your
garden;' as though he had said, 'God did at that time
produce them.' And the number that ate was more than
a hundred friars. Benedictus Deus /" He adds, " I
have been in the cells which the said friars built, and
accurately measured them, in the year 1528 ; they were
four feet and a half wide, and scarcely six long. And
the rector of Santa Maria Mascharella, my very dear
friend, told me that every year, on the §ame day when
the holy angels brought the heavenly bread, most sweet
odours were perceived in the space then occupied by the
refectory, which lasted forty hours." The table on which
the miraculous loaves were placed was left at Santa
Maria when the friars removed to S. Nicholas, and was
still to be seen, guarded by iron bars in the wall, at the
time when Father Prelormitano wrote.

But Dominic soon left Bologna ; his journey being
now principally directed towards that native country


which lie ha*d not seen for sixteen years. Two anecdotes
alone are left us of his journey. It is said that on quit-
ting Bologna in company with the Franciscan before
mentioned, they were attacked by a fierce dog, who tore
the poor friar's habit, so that he was unable to proceed
on his journey, and sat down by the wayside in some
dispair. Dominic applied a little mud to the rent gar-
ment, and this new kind of mending perfectly succeeded ;
when the mud dried, the hahbit was discovered perfectly
joined together. The other story is thus amusingly told
by Castiglio : — " Having, one day, come to an inn with
several companions, the hostess was much disturbed at
the small gains she saw herself likely to make by them ;
for they being many, and eating little, she saw herself
put to much trouble to little purpose. Wherefore, as
the servants of God conversed together on spiritual
things, as was their wont, she went about grumbling and
blaspheming, saying all the evil words that came into
her mind; and the more the holy father S. Dominic
sought to appease her with fair speeches, the more violent
she became, not being willing to hear reason. At length,
being wholly disturbed by the noise of this virago, S.
Dominic spoke to her and said, 'Sister, since you will
not leave us in peace for the love of God, I pray Him
that He will Himself silence you;' the which words
were no sooner uttered than she lost the power of speech,
and became entirely dumb. She continued so until the
saint's return from Spain, when, as he stopped at the
same inn, she threw herself at his feet to implore his
pardon, and he restored her to the use of her tongue,
with a warning that she should use it in future to the
praise of God.

It was probably in the course of this journey that the
following incident occurred at the city of Faenza, as
given in the ancient memoirs preserved in the convent
of that place. Albert, the bishop of Faenza, was so
charmed by his eloquence and the fascination of his dis-
course, that he would not allow him to lodge anywhere
but in the episcopal palace. This did not, however, pre-
vent Dominic from pursuing his ordinary course of life ;


every night he rose at the hour of matins, as was his
custom, and proceeded to the nearest church to assist at
the divine office. The attendants of the bishop noticed
this ; and on watching him secretly to observe how he
was able to leave the palace without rousing the inmates,
they observed two beautiful youths who stood by the
door of his chamber with lighted torches, and so led the
way for him and his companions, every door opening for
them as they went along ; and in this way they were
every night conducted in safety to the church of S.
Andrew, °whence, after the singing of matins, they re-
turned in like manner. When this was made known
to Albert, he himself watched and became an eye-witness
of the fact ; and in consequence he procured the above
church to be the foundation of a convent of the order.
A memorial of the circumstances is preserved in the name
given to the ground lying between tbe palace and S.
Andrew's church, which is still called " The Angels'

Field/* \ ;H i-Vv.

Doubtless many cities of northern Italy received like
pawing visits from Dominic, but no certain traditions
concerning them have been preserved. We can, there-
fore but follow him in imagination, as he made his
way over the plains of Lombardy, and crossing the Alps,
found himself once more in the convent of S. Romain
at Toulouse. The number of the brethren was greatly
increased, but their prospects, together with those of the
Church generally in those parts, had received a serious
check by the death of the Count de Montfort, and the
renewed persecutions of the heretics. Dominic remained
a while with them to encourage them, and nominated
Bertrand of Garriga, who had just returned from Fans,
their superior. He then continued his journey to Spain ;
and we find that before Christmas he was at Segovia, m
Old Castile. One circumstance occurred on his way
which must not be omitted. The brethren who travelled
in his company, discouraged perhaps by the hardships ot
the journey, and yet more by those which they witnessed
in the young houses of Bologna and Toulouse, broke out
into murmurs, and even determined to quit the habit


and return to the world. Some writers tell us that
these religious were not those who came from Italy
with the saint, but some young Castilian novices, who
had been attracted to him by the fame of his eloquence
and miracles, and whose fervour cooled as soon as they
made a closer acquaintance with the austerity of his rule \
and this seems the more probable conjecture. However
that may be, their discontent was soon discovered by
Dominic : he did his best to deter them from their pur-
pose, but in vain; three only remained with him, the
others, having put their hand to the plough, looked back
and left him. Turning sadly and gently to those who
remained faithful, Dominic addressed them in the words
of our Lord on a like occasion, " Will ye also go
away ? " And the memory of this incident has been
preserved in a touching passage of the Constitution of
the order, introduced at a later period with an evident
allusion to these circumstances. " Whenever novices,"
it is said, " wish to return to the world, we command
all the religious freely to let them go, and to return
them all that they have brought. Nor must they
give them any vexation on this account, after the ex-
ample of Him, who, when some of his disciples went
back, said to those that remained, ' Will ye also' go
away V "* The greater number of those who had
abandoned him, shortly afterwards returned to their

The city ef Segovia, where Dominic first stopped, is
not far from Osma. His return to those familiar scenes,
so thick with memories of his friendship with the bishop
Diego, and the long quiet years of his early life, before
the call of God had drawn him before the world, must
have been full of singular emotion to a heart so tender
and sensitive as his own. Perhaps it was something of
this natural affection for old scenes, linked to such dear
associations, that made him fix on this neighbourhood
for his first foundation on his return to his native land.
Only a few particulars of his residence there have been
preserved. He lodged at the house of a poor woman, who
* Const. F. F. Praed. d. i. c. 14.


contrived to get possession of a coarse hair shirt which
he had worn, and had laid aside to exchange it for one of
yet harsher material. Some time afterwards, the house
caught fire, and everything was burned excepting tho
box which contained this precious relic. This hair shirt
was long preserved among the relics of the monastery of
Valladolid. Dominic had not been long in the city
before he began his usual work of preaching, and with
more than usual success. Possibly the familiar lan-
guage of his mother-tongue, and the sight of those
Spanish Hills, after the long years of exile and separation,
gave a fresh inspiration to his words. It seemed, too,
that God was willing, that special tokens of His miracu-
lous power should accompany the preaehing of His
servants. A long drought had afflicted the country of
Segovia, and reduced the inhabitants to the utmost dis-
tress. One day, as they gathered together outside tho
walls to hear the preaching, Dominic, after beginning his
discourse, as if suddenly inspired by God, exclaimed,
" Fear nothing, my brethren, but trust in the Divine
mercy. I announce to you good news, for to-day even
God will send you a plentiful rain, and the drought shall
be turned into plenty." And shortly after, his words
were fulfilled, for such torrents of rain fell, that scarcely
could the assembled crowd make their way to their own
homes. The spot where this took place is still shown,
and the event is commemorated by a little chapel which
has been erected in his honour. On another occasion,
as he preached before the senate of the city, he spoke
thus : "You listen to the words of an earthly king, hear
now those of Him who is eternal and divine." One of
the senators took offence at the freedom of his words,
and mounting his horse, rode off, exclaiming .contemp-
tuously, "A. fiue thing, forsooth, for this fellow (ciarla-
tino) to keep you here all day with his fooleries. Truly,
it is time to go home to dinner !" Dominic looked at
him sorrowfully : " He goes as you see," he said,
addressing the others, " but within a year he will be
dead." And, indeed, not many months after this occur-
rence, he was slain on that very spot by his own nephew.


Dominic's preaching soon rendered him very popular
among the Segovians. They were proud of him as a
fellow-countryman, and nocked together to listen to him
wherever he appeared. We are told, that he never spoke
in public without first prostrating in prayer before a little
image, and repeating the versicle, " Dignare me laudare
te, Virgo sacrata," &c. It is with him also, according to
Pere Croiset, that the custom among preachers of intro-
ducing the Ave Maria at the beginning of their sermon,
first arose. In a short time a number of new disciples
were gathered together at Segovia, the foundations of a
convent were laid, under the title of the Holy Cross ; and
one of his followers, named Corbolan, and known as
" Blessed Corbolan the Simple," was appointed prior.
This convent was erected close by the little river Eresma,
on whose banks Dominic was accustomed to address the
multitudes. Close by may still be seen another spot
consecrated by the memory of his presence. It is a
grotto deep sunk in the rock, where he was wont nightly
to retire from the presence of his followers, to give him-
self up to the free exercise of prayer and the presence of
God. Its walls (as those testified who secretly watched
him at these times) were often wet with his tears and
his blood. This grotto now forms part of the chapel
erected in his honour, and is attached to the church. It
was visited by S. Theresa, who declared that she received
such grace and consolation in her visit to it, that she
could have desired to spend her life within its recesses.

As soon as the convent of Segovia was founded,
Dominic proceeded to Madrid. The house already
founded there by Brother Peter, originally sent thither
from Toulouse, was without the town. It was very poor,
having a little church like a hermitage, and a narrow
dormitory without division. Dominic resolved to convert
it into a monastery of women, for he considered its
revenues and endowments unsuitable for his brethren.
This, therefore, was the third convent of sisters which he
founded. Nor was his care of them inferior to that he
had before bestowed on Prouille and S. Sixtus. A beauti-
ful letter is still preserved, in which he addresses them on


their duties and vocation. We give part of it as another
illustration of the importance he evidently attached to
those external aids whereby the strictness and entireness
of the rule should be perfectly observed : — " Brother
Dominic, Master of the Preachers, to the Mother Prioress,
and all the convent of the Sisters of Madrid, health
and amendment of life by the grace of God. We
rejoice, and thank God for your spiritual progress, and
that He has drawn you from the mire of the world.
Combat still, my daughters, against your old enemy by
prayer and watching; for he only shall be crowned who
has striven lawfully. Hitherto you have had no house
suitable for following all the rules of our holy religion,
but now there will be no excuse ; since now, thanks
be to God, you have a building where regular observance
can be exactly kept. Therefore I desire that silence
may now be kept in all the places enjoined by the Con-
stitutions, in the choir, refectory, dormitories, and

wherever you live according to rule We send

our dear brother Manez, who has laboured so much for
your house, and has fixed you in your holy state, to order
all things as shall seem good to him, to the end that you
may live holily and religiously." The people of Castile
received Dominic with extraordinary marks of honour ;
Castiglio gives us a long list of donations granted by the
magistrates of Madrid to his order, bearing the date of
May, 1219. His sermons were listened to by crowds
of the inhabitants, among whom a wonderful change was
effected in a short time. This change was so great and
striking that, in the words of Castiglio, " he could not be
satisfied with weeping, by reason of the marvellous and
heavenly contentment which he felt for the clear and
manifest favours of God, and his tenderness towards
sinners." The preaching of the Rosary, as usual, was his
great instrument for the conversion of the people, and
many wonders were wrought by the extension of its
devotion. When at length he prepared to return to
Toulouse, the regret of the citizens knew no bounds ;
" for his manner and conversation," continues Castiglio,
" had marvellously captivated the souls of all, and they


felt themselves raised on high to great and heavenly
desires, whilst their affections were likewise drawn to
him by a singular tenderness." There must, indeed,
have been something peculiarly sweet and familiar in the
intercourse between him and these converts of Madrid;
for we find him writing to the Pope to declare their
fervent and devout dispositions; and Honorius in conse-
quence sent a brief conveying his special benediction
both to them and the people of Segovia.

Several other convents were already founded in Spain,
but it is uncertain what share S. Dominic himself had in
their establishment. Nor is there any universal agree-
ment among authors as to the cities he visited, though it
seems certain that he made some stay at the Palencia, the
scene of his early university life. We have an interesting
memorial of this visit in the will of Anthony Sersus, who
leaves a certain sum for candles for the confraternity of
the Holy Rosary, founded in that place by " the good
Dominic of Gusman," as he terms him. We find by this
how very early a date may be claimed for the confrater-
nities of the Rosary, which indeed were founded in almost
every city wherein Dominic preached, especially in the
north of Italy. For still, as he passed from place to
place, his work was ever the same : he preached without
rest and intermission, and many of the miracles attributed
to him by popular tradition are given to us associated
with stories of the propagation of the Rosary. His time
was never his own : he had long since made it over to God
for the salvation of souls :* his idea of the vocation
of a Friar Preacher was one of utter self-abandonment,
and so whenever he appeared abroad he was followed
by crowds, attracted by the odour of his sanctity, who
were accustomed to say that penance was easy when
preached by Master Dominic.

Yet though never alone, his life of prayer was un-
interrupted ; the secret of that perpetual communion
with God in the midst of exterior distractions, so ad-
mirably displayed in the life of the great spiritual
daughter of his order, S. Catherine of Siena, when
shc°spoke of the interior cell of the heart wherein she


was wont to retire, was well known to him ; it was there
he found his rest ; and the habit of prayer had knit his
heart so close to God, that nothing had the power of
separating him from that centre, " wherein," says Cas-
tiglio, " he reposed with a marvellous quiet and tran-
quillity. Never did he lose that repose of soul which is
essential to the spirit of prayer ; but in. all his labours
and disquiets, in the midst of hunger, thirst, fatigue, long
journeys, and continued interruption from others, hi3
heart was free and ready to turn to God at all hours,
as though it were conscious of none else but Him.
Therefore many consolations were granted to him that
are not given to others ; and of this we have evidence in
his words, his zeal, and all his actions, wherein there
appeared a certain grace and sweetness of the Holy
Ghost, showing how dearly favoured was his soul." In
faet S. Dominie was pre-emimently a man of prayer ; it is
the feature above all others which we find traced upon
his life. By night or by day, whether alone or with
others, silent in contemplation, or surrounded by the
distractions of an active apostolic vocation, his heart
never stirred from the true and steady centre it had
so early found in God ; and in this one fact lay the
secret -of all the graces which adorned his most beautiful
soul. It was the source of that interior tranquillity
which fitted him to be called " the rose of patience,"
as 4 well as of the exterior and gracious sweetness to
which all have borne testimony, and which with him
was nothing else than the fragant odour proceeding
from the abiding presence of God.


Ketum to S. Kornain. He proceeds to Paris. Jordan of Saxony.

Online LibraryR. S AlemanyThe life of St. Dominic and a sketch of the Dominican Order → online text (page 14 of 37)