Dominican Saints 101: Bl. Jane of Aza
August 1, 2012
If Dominicans refer to St. Dominic as “Our Holy Father Dominic”, does that mean that we can refer to his mother, Bl. Jane (12th century, feast – Aug. 2) as “Our Blessed Grandmother Jane”? While that question doesn’t necessarily need to be answered, it does present some provoking thoughts. What reverence should Dominicans show to the mother of St. Dominic? In a way, is she also responsible for bringing about the Order since she brought about the founder? Bl. Jane is thought to have come from both noble and saintly blood, possibly being related to both St. Louis the King of France and St. Ferdinand of Spain. She married an upstanding Christian man and gave birth to three men who all became priests, including Bl. Mannes, one of the first Dominicans. After her first two sons were born, she went to the Monastery of Silos and prayed a novena to St. Dominic of Silos. Toward the end of the novena, he appeared to her and told her that she would conceive a son who would be a light of the Church and a terror of heretics. Soon after, this prophecy began to take shape. As Bl. Jordan tells us in his Libellus:
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.
While we cannot necessarily say that St. Dominic became a saint and the founder of Dominicans because of his mother, it is safe to suppose that his upbringing could not have hurt. Bl. Jane’s example and the stories that Dominic probably heard about his mother’s visions could have played an important role in helping him to become the saintly preacher that the world now knows. Thus, it might be fair to have a pious love for her, the grandmother of the Dominican Order. Our Blessed Grandmother Jane, pray for us. O God, who didst wonderfully make known to Thy handmaid, Blessed Jane, the grace of the heavenly calling of her son, Dominic, we beseech Thee that, imitating her and her son thus foreshown to her, we may, by the loving intercession of them both, receive everlasting rewards. Through Christ our Lord.