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with their lips, and by their works kindly receive and courteously
treat with them; and be solicitous as far as they can to be at peace
with them. And if any do contrary, let him be gravely punished.
And let the Brethren beware, lest they ever speak otherwise than
well of them, either among themselves or to any of their friends.
And if any one, under the show of friendship, shall report any evil
of the aforesaid Friars, our brethren must not be easy in believing
it; but shall rather endeavor as iar as possible to excuse them.
And if it chance that the Friars Minors shall have provoked us by
speaking ill of us, nevertheless let us in nowise publicly contend
with them."

It i3 in the same spirit that we find it ordered, that there
shall always be made a commemoration of " Our holy father
S. Francis" in the little office of S. Dominic. (Such is the
aifectionate title given by the Friars Preachers to the founder
of the order of Minors.' Whilst within the last twelvemonth
(1855) the entire office of both holy Patriarchs has been ordered
to be recited by the brethren of the two orders on their respective


predicting their future greatness, and the extension of
their orders. Some of the Franciscan writers place this
meeting of Dominic and Francis in the following year,
when both were again present in Rome for the confirma-
tion of their institutes, but the Dominican authorities are
generally agreed in giving it as occurring during this visit.
The difference is of no great consequence, and might easily
arise without throwing any discredit on the authenticity
of the circumstance itself, which rests on the authority of
one of S. Francis's constant companions, and has never
been called in question.


Dominic's return to France. The brethren assemble at Prouille
to choose a rule . The spirit of the Order. Some account of
the first followers of Dominic. The Convent of S. Komain.

The Gouncil of Lateran lasted but three weeks, and
broke up at the end of November, 1215. In the early
spring of the following year, Dominic found himself once
more among his brethren at Toulouse. In the short
period of his absence their numbers had increased from
seven to sixteen, and we may well imagine the mutual
joy of their meeting. He explained to them the result
of his expedition to the Holy See, and the necessity
which now lay on them to apply themselves to the choice
of a rule. For this purpose he appointed Notre Dame
de Prouille as the place of meeting, where two other of
the brothers, Fr. William de Claret and Fr. Noel, who
had care of the religious of Prouille, were waiting for
them. It was April when they all gathered in this
mother-house of the order; and after earnest prayer
and invocation of the Holy Spirit, they agreed in
choosing the rule of S. Austin ; a rule to which Dominic


himself had long been bound, ever since he had worn the
habit of Canon Regular, and which from its simplicity
was the better fitted for their purpose, as being sus-
ceptible of nearly any development which the peculiar
objects of their institute might require. In choosing
this rule, Dominic fulfihed the obligation imposed on
him by tbe Pope, and escaped the censure of the late
council, while at the same time he was left free to
expand the general principles of religious life laid down
by S. Anstin into particular constitutions of his own.

He had not been the first who had made a singular use
of this rule. If we compare the plan and work of S.
Dominic with that of S. NorbeA who had preceded him
by nearly a century, we shall Sid a very striking simi-
larity. S. Norbert's rule was a reformation of that of the
Regular Canons. In its design he departed from the or-
dinary line of the more ancient forms of monasticism, and
set before him as his object active missionary labours for
the salvation of souls. His work was preaching. He
himself preached all over the provinces of France and
Flanders, and obtained faculties from Pope Gelasius II.
enabling him to preach wherever he choose. A mere cur-
sory glance would induce us to judge the spirit of these
two orders identical; and there can be no doubt that, in
many points of interior discipline, Dominic took the Pre-
monstratensian rule as his guide. Yet we see clearly,
that, whatever similarity existed between them, they were
not the same; they were called to different works, and
were to fill a different place in the Church of God. Reli-
gious orders, we must never forget, are the result of
Divine vocation, not the mere creations of human intelli-
gence ; and those vocations they accomplish in an infinite
variety of ways, which human intelligence could never
have planned or executed : they are like the varieties of
plants and animals in nature, whose mingled distinctions
and similarities, multiplied in so many thousand forms,
attest the authorship of an infinite Creator. We cannot
but be struck by this supernatural element in the forma-
tion of the order of Friars Preachers. As a mere human
work, critics might find so much to say against it. If


Domimic only wanted to join the active and contemplative
lives together, S. Norbert had done it before him; why-
could he not be a Premonstratensian ? They followed the
same rule, and wore the same habit. Or if he and S. Francis
really had the same thoughts, and were raised up for the
same purpose, why did they not amalgamate, and then their
strength would have been concentrated, instead of being
divided ? These seemed reasonable objections ; they were
doubtless some of those which encountered the holy
founder at his first outset, for it is the way in which the
world is wont to criticize the Church. It is certainly the
way in which in our own day we do so, as though she
were a vast piece of ingenious machinery, which we have
a right to take to pieces and improve, as we like best.
Wc often loose sight of the fact, that great men and great
institutions, popes and councils and religious orders, are
but instruments in the hands of God, who works them
like puppets without their will, for the accomplishment of
His own designs. The order of Friars Preachers had a
place to fill in the Universal Church, never yet filled by
any religious body, and in which it has since had no rival,
even in the period of its decay. Only a hundred years
from its first foundation, an Emperor* who was its avowed
enemy, and who during his whole life had persecuted it
to the last extremity, witnessing its remarkable contest
against the alleged errors of a Pontiff, f whom it had been

-::- Louis of Bavaria

t John XXII. This pontiff was reported to have given utterance,
as a private individual, to some opinions of doubtful orthodoxy,
concerning the state of souls previous to the day of j udgment. He
himself, in a brief which death alone prevented him from publishing
in the consistory he had summoned for the purpose, made the most
distinct and formal protest of hia entire and hearty accordance with
the doctrine of the Church. (Rohrbacher, H, sioire de V Eglise Catho-
lique, torn, xx- p. 227.) Whether or no he ever did hold the opinions
in question, the subject gave rise to a cohtroversj r , in which the
Friars Preachers took a distinguished part ; particularly an English-
man, by name F. Thomas Walent, who is described as " a man of
great zeal, great heart, and great learning :" with daring courage
he preached in the very presence of the Pope, denouncing the
supposed error in no measured terms, and suffered for his boldness
by a long imprisonment. The favourers of the disputed point had


foremost to defend when the aggressions of an Antipope
divided the allegiance of the faithful, pronounced this
celebrated verdict, wrested from him, as it were, against
his will : " The order of Preachers is the order of truth. 11
This is the place which it has ever filled; which in
God's Providence, we trust it ever will fill ; and it was the
place for which Dominic determined it should be fitted
from the very first. His plan was threefold. The first and
primary idea of the order was labour for the salvation of
souls ; but in setting this before him as his principal aim, he
was not willing to abandon anything of the religious cha-
racter which attached to the elder institutes of the Church.
In short, the whole of his design*is expressed in that pas-
sage of the constitutions where it is said that " the Order
of Preachers was principally and essentially designed for
preaching and teaching, in order thereby to communicate
to others the fruits of contemplation, and to procure the
salvation of souls." Dominic well knew that to sanctify
others the teachers should first be sanctified themselves,
and he was content to follow the guidance of antiquity in
choosing the means of that sanctification whose fruits
were to be imparted to the world. Those means had ever
been considered as best found in the rigorous discipline
of the cloister : in silence and poverty, prayer, fasting,
and a life of penance, and the secret and magical influences
of community life. He therefore included in his rule all
the essential characteristics of monasticism, whilst at the
same time a certain freedom and expansiveness was mingled
with the strictness of its discipline, which enabled it ever
to bend and mould itself so as to meet its great and pri-
mary intention, the salvation of souls. In the constitu-
tions of the order, accordingly, we find, mixed with the
usual enactments of regular discipline, certain powers of
dispensation, to be used when a literal and unbending ad-
herence to the letter of the rule would embarrass and
impede the brethren in their more active duties. There
are also express constitutions, both for the ordering of

sufficient influence to cause considerable suffering and disgrace to
the order, which, however, never relaxed an inch in its obstinate
defence of the teaching of the Catholic Church.



their own studies, and the regulation of sucli schools as
they might open for the teaching of others; so that all
their active and apostolic undertakings, instead of being
departures from the rule, should be provided for in it, and
partake of its own spirit and discipline. We may, there-
fjre, consider contemplation, apostolic labour for souls,
and the especial cultivation of theological science, as the
three objects which Dominie sought to unite in the con-
stitution of his order.

With what success he laboured, and with what fidelity
his children have adhered to the character first imprinted
on their institute by the hand of its founder, it is for his-
tory to show. The ord£r of Friars Preachers has never
lost anything of the monastic spirit, whilst at the same
time it has never so exclusively adhered to it as to lose
sight of the active duties imposed on it by its vocation to
apostolic labour. The two characters have ever been pre-
served entire, and it has presented to the world, through-
out six centuries, the spectacle of a body acting in the
most perfect unity of government and design, producing
at one and the same time the highest examples of con-
templative saints, apostolic missionaries, and theological
writers. If we are dazzled by the fame of its doctors, we
have but to turn over the page of the Dominican chro-
nicles, and, in exchange for the successes of a university
contest, we shall find some talc of saintly life, redolent
with the sweetness of evangelic simplicity. Its saints are
not all great men in the world's reckoning; they are
gathered from all ranks ; from the shepherds of the
Spanish mountains, the blind beggars of Italy, or the
slaves of America, as well as from princes and doctors of
the church. Or if, whilst dwelling on this side of the vast
scene which it unfolds to us, absorbed, it may be, in the
seraphic revelations of S. Catherine, or the sweet mys-
ticism of the German Suso, we are tempted to think that
its genius grew to be contemplative only, and that in time
it shrank from close contact with the world for which it
was called to labour, other pages lie open before us rich
with tales of the strife of martyrs. Poland, Hungary,
Ethiopia, America, and China — these, and many other


countries, have tlie children of Dominic evangelized by
their preaching and watered with their blood. Nor is this
all; it has constantly been true to its vocation as the
organ of popularizing truth. It has borrowed from the
spirit of the age to supply the wants of the age. When
the world was accustomed to gather science from the lips
of living orators, it gave out its companies of preachers
and lecturers. When books became more popular vehicles
of teaching, there was no want of Dominican writers.
Nay, it knew how to use other and lighter kinds of in-
struction, and laid a strong hand upon the magic of the
arts. How many a sermon has Angelico left us in the
colours which still charm us on the walls of his convent ;
and after him, painting still remained the heritage of the
order which gave him birth, and in its hands has never
ceased to be Christian. And if we cannot say of the
greatest poet of the middle ages, that he was himself a
child of Dominic, it must at least be confessed that he
found means to clothe his verse in the spirit of a theology
whose master and teacher was S. Thomas. Pre-eminently
the order of the church, it has shared her destinies, as it
has clung to her teaching. Like her, it has never lost its
unity; we do not indeed pretend to say of either, that
time has never seen their children waxing cold and un-
faithful ; but with both, the power of reformation has ever
been found to exist within their own bosoms. The only
occasion when the order of Preachers can ever be said to
have endured a divided government, was the unhappy
period when it shared in a schism which rent the allegi-
ance of the church herself; when one regained unity of
obedience, it was restored also to the other. After all its
sufferings we constantly see it renewing its strength like
the eagle; and even in our day, we can scarcely fail to
observe that astonishing vitality and power of fresh develop-
ment, which after six centuries bursts out as vigorous as
ever, attesting its principle of eternal youth.

Before closing this chapter, we must give a brief ac-
count of those brethren who joined with S. Dominic in
the deliberations of Prouille, and who with him may be
considered the first founders and propagators of the order.


They were, as we have said, sixteen in number. Matthew
of France we have before mentioned in relating the cir-
cumstances of his first acquaintance with S. Dominic,
when prior of S. Vincent's church at Castres; Bertrand
of Garrigues, a little village in the province of Narbonne,
was the constant companion of the holy father in all his
journeys, and a most faithful imitator of his life and auste-
rities. It is of him that it is related, how, being con-
stantly weeping for his sins, S. Dominic reproved him,
and enjoined him rather to weep and pray for the sins of
others. This circumstance throws light upon another
story, very commonly repeated, but which we venture to
think has not always been fully understood. It is thus
related by Surius : — " This Brother Bertrand, a holy man,
and, as we have said, the first prior provincial of Provence,
was accustomed every day to celebrate mass for sins;
and being asked by one Brother Benedict, a prudent man,
why he so rarely celebrated mass for the dead, and so fre-
quently for sins, he replied, ' We are certain of the salva-
tion of the faithful departed, whereas we remain tossed
about in many perils.' ' Then,' said Brother Benedict, < if
there were two beggars, the one with all his limbs sound,
and the other wanting them, which would you compas-
sionate the most ?' And he replied, ' Him certainly who
can do least for himself.' 'Then,' said Benedict, 'such
certainly are the dead, who have neither mouth to con-
fess nor hands to work, but ask our help ; whereas living
sinners have mouths and hands, and with them can take
care of themselves. And when Bertrand was not per-
suaded in his mind, on the following night there appeared
to him a terrible figure of a departed soul, who with a
bundle of wood did in a wonderful manner press and
weigh upon him, and waking him up more than ten times
that same night, did vex and trouble him. Therefore on
the following morning he called Benedict to him, and
told him all the story of the night ; and thence religiously,
and with many tears, going to the altar, he offered the
holy sacrifice for the departed, and from, that time very
frequently did the same. This is the same Brother Ber-
trand, a most holy and venerable man, to whom S. Dominic


enjoined that lie should not weep for his own, but for
others' sins; for he well knew that he was wont to do
excessive penance for his sins. And this charge of the
Blessed Dominic had such an effect on the soul of Brother
Bertrand, that from that time, even if he wished, he was
not able to weep for his own sins ; but when he mourned
for those of others, his tears would flow in great

The next of S. Dominic's companions whom we find
noticed, are the two whom we have before mentioned as
residing at Prouille, where they had care of the nuns;
"William de Claret of Pamiers, and Brother Noel, a native
of Prouille. The former of these had been one of the
first missioners among the Albigenses, in the time of
Diego of Azevedo. After remaining in the habit of the
Friars Preachers for twenty years, he left the order and
joined the Cistercians. Not content with this, he even
attempted to induce the nuns to follow his example, but,
it is unnecessary to say, without success. Then there
was* Brother Suero Gomez, a Portuguese of noble birth,
who left the royal court to join the army of De Mont-
fort against the Albigenses. He was one of those who
witnessed the deliverance of the fourteen English pil-
grims, and who assisted in bringing them to shore,
and shortly afterwards passed to the company of Domi-
nic; he is said to have been distinguished for many
virtues, and was the founder of the order in Portugal.
Michael de Fabra, a Spaniard of noble blood, was
the first lecturer on theology in the order, and held
that office in the convent of S. James, at Paris. He
was also a celebrated preacher, and accompanied King
James of Arragon in his expedition against Majorca,
where it is said, " So great was the esteem had of him,
that during the fifteen months that the siege lasted
nothing was done in the camp, either by soldiers or
captains, save what was by him ordered."* Such was
the reverence in which he was held, that after the
conquest of the island he was looked on as the father
and ruler of it; and his name was always invoked next
* Michaele Pio Uomini— illustri.


after God and the Blessed Virgin. Divers stories of his
apparitions and supernatural assistance to the Christian
soldiers are to be found; and the Moors were themselves
accustomed to say, that it was Mary and Brother Michael,
not the Spaniards, who conquered the island.

Another Michael, called De Uzero, was afterwards
sent by Dominic to establish the order in Spain. Brother
Dominic, called sometimes the little, on account of his
stature, or by others, Dominic the second, (and confused
by some writers with Dominic of Segovia,* or the third,)
had also been one of the holy patriarch's first companions
in the missions of Toulouse. "He was," says his his-
torian, " little of body, but powerful of soul, and of great
sanctity." He too was a wonderful preacher, and cleared
the court of king Ferdinand, " as it were in a moment," of
all buffoons, flatterers, and other evil company.

Next comes Lawrence the Englishman. He is said to
have been one of the pilgrims whom Dominic saved from
death, as before related. By many he is called Blessed
Lawrence, a title he seems to have deserved by his
sanctity and his gifts of prophecy and miracles. Then
there was Brother Stephen of Metz, a Belgian, " a man
of rare abstinence, the frequent macerator of his own
body, and of burning zeal for the eternal salvation of his
neighbour ;" and Brother John of Navarre, whom S.
Dominic had brought with him to Toulouse from Borne,
and there given the habit. He it was to whom S. Domi-
nic gave the celebrated lesson on holy poverty, which we
shall notice in its proper place. "He was then imper-
fect," says his biographer, "but afterwards made many
journeys with S. Dominic, and by familiar conversation
with him learnt how to be a saint, which indeed he
became." He was one of those who gave his evidence
on the canonization of the holy father. Peter of Madrid

* Many authors tell us, that "Dominic the little " was the first
Provincial ofLombardy, and afterwards of Spain ; and that he was
likewise called " Dominic of Segovia. It is clear, however, from
the account of Michaele Pio, that the two Dominica were distinct
persons, and that Dominic of Segovia." the Provincial ofLombardy,
was not the same as the early companion of the holy patriarch of
his order.


is the next name, but we find no particulars of his life.
The two citizens of Toulouse, Peter Cellani and Thomas,
have already been mentioned. Oderic of Normandy was
a lay brother, and accompanied Matthew of France to
Paris, where he was known and reverenced for his
" perfection of sanctity." Lastly, there was Manez
Gusman, S. Dominic's own brother, " a man of great
contemplation, zealpus for souls, and illustrious for
sanctity;" the only one of the sixteen who has received
the solemn beatification of the Church. He had a great
gift of preaching, although his attraction was wholly to
contemplation. Michaele Pio gives us his character in a
few expressive words ; " Above all things he loved quiet
and solitude, taking most delight in a contemplative life,
in the which he made marvellous profit ; and in living
alone with God and himself, rather than with others. He
had the government of the nuns who were established
at Madrid. Sincerity and simplicity shone in him above
all things ; and many miracles declared to the world how
dear he was to heaven."

As soon as the little council of Prouille had concluded
its deliberations, Dominic returned to Toulouse. There
fresh demonstrations of the friendship of Fulk awaited
him. With the consent of his chapter he made him the
grant of three churches : Saint Eomain at Toulouse, and
two others; one at Pamiers, and another, dedicated to
our Lady, near Puy-Laurens. These in time had each a
convent attached to them; but that of S. Remain was
commenced immediately, for Peter Cellani's house was
no longer adapted to their increased numbers. A very
humble cloister was therefore built contiguous to the
church, and over it were placed the cells of the brethren.
This was the first monastery of the order. The friars left
it in 1232, in order to remove to a larger and more
magnificent building. The convent of S. Romain was
poor enough, and soon completed ; the brethren went
into it in the summer of the same year, 1216 ; and the
house of Peter Cellani became the future residence of the

Previous to his last departure to Rome, Dominic had,


with the concurrence of his brethren, made over all the
lands and property granted to him and his brethren, to
the nuns of Prouille. Afterwards he had accepted, as
it seems a little reluctantly, the revenues provided by
the generosity of Fulk of Toulouse. But though he
himself felt attracted towards the entire observance of
poverty in its strictest form, the mendicity which was
afterwards made a law of the order was not among those
constitutions drawn up at Prouille and immediately
adopted. It was reserved for the test of experience,
and for future deliberations. Nevertheless poverty was
scarcely less dear to Dominic than it was to Francis; he
honoured it in his own person, and was vigorous in seeing
it observed by those he governed; and we are assured that
every detail of the convent of S. Roniain was executed
from his orders, and under his own eye, so as to insure
its conformity to the strictest requirements of his favourite



Dominic's third visit to Rome. Confirmation of the Order by
Honorious III. Dominic's vision in S. Peter's He is appointed
master of the Sacred Palace. Ugolino of Ostia.

As soon as the convent of S. Romain had been taken

Online LibraryR. S AlemanyThe life of St. Dominic and a sketch of the Dominican Order → online text (page 7 of 37)