Dominican Saints 101: All Saints of the Order of Preachers

November 7, 2011

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Mt. 5:8) The universal Church celebrates her feast of all the pure of heart, all those who see God – All Saints Day – on November 1.  Likewise, many of the great religious Orders celebrate a feast for their own saints.  The Dominican Order happens to be one of them (feast day – Nov. 7).  The Dominicans were the second Order (after the Benedictines) to receive this privilege from the Holy See.  In response to the request of Cardinal Vincent Maria Orsini, OP, in 1674, Pope Clement X wrote:

Rightly, my Lord Cardinal, ought your Order to celebrate the solemnity of all its Saints on one appointed day; for, if we wished to assign to each of its holy sons his own special feast, we should have to form a new calendar, and they alone would suffice to fill it.

So not only does the Order have the privilege to celebrate her great saints like Our Holy Father Dominic, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Albert the Great, St. Martin de Porres, St. Peter Martyr, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Agnes of Montepulciano, as well as our countless number of blesseds, but we also get to celebrate the holy friars, nuns, sisters, and third order members who have lived throughout these past almost 800 years.  According to the General Chapter of Valencia in 1337, there were 13,370 martyrs between 1234 and 1335.  There were another 26,000 in the 16th century alone.  Martyrs, confessors, virgins, and holy men and women all have their place of honor in the Order.  Friars, worn down through constant contemplation, study, and preaching; nuns who lived lives of great prayer, silence, and penance; sisters who educated 1000s of souls; and third order members who sanctified the world – these are the “forgotten” saints who are also celebrated on this day. But why celebrate them?  It’s not just so that they can have their day on the calendar.  As our Book of Constitutions states, it’s because they “provide us with an example by their way of life, a fellowship in their communion, and an aid by their intercession,” so that we may be “moved to imitate them and may be strengthened in the spirit of our vocation” (cf. LCO, nn. 16 and 67). May we thank God on this great feast and turn to the example and intercession of the hundreds of saintly Dominicans so that they may guide us on our journey. O God, who has pleased to make the Order of Preachers fruitful in an abundant progeny of Saints, and has gloriously crowned in them the merits of all heroic virtues, grant unto us to tread in their footsteps, that we may at last be united in perpetual festivity with those in heaven whom we venerate today under one celebration upon earth.  Through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

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