Blessed Jordan and St. Dominic’s Relics

February 10, 2014

Day 6: Blessed Jordan and St. Dominic’s Relics

Blessed Jordan of Saxony sharply criticized his Dominican brothers for failing to spread abroad news of St. Dominic’s holiness. Such reticence was not modesty, but negligence. But there they were, over a decade after St. Dominic’s death, and no progress had been made. If St. Dominic was going to be canonized, as Bl. Jordan ardently wished, his body would have to be exhumed. In the Catholic mind, but especially in the medieval Catholic mind, the saint’s body was a great testimony to his holiness. The friars were afraid of what might happen. What if his body were wretched and corrupt? Might people despise the founder’s holiness? One early friar, William of Monferato recalls that, “the brethren, including the Provincial, did not want any seculars to be present, because they were afraid it would stink, since water had already seeped into that tomb.” Everyone gathered together for the solemn translation of St. Dominic’s relics. One eyewitness recounts Master Jordan’s role, and the marvelous sign which God gave at St. Dominic’s translation:

“The witness also said that he was present when the body of the blessed Dominic was moved from the tomb under the ground to the marble tomb, and he says that they broke the limestone and the very hard cement with picks and other iron instruments, and then opened the tomb, on which there was a thick, strong stone; inside they found a wooden coffin, from which a marvelous fragrance was coming. The Master of the Order took the bones and put them in a new coffin, in the presence of many of the brethren and the archbishop of Ravenna and many other bishops… The fragrance lasted for many days afterwards in the hands of those who had touched the relics.”

Many of the witnesses at the canonization relate the story of this miraculous fragrance. Friar William, as before, noted “a pleasant, sweet smell came out and none of them could decide what it smelled like.” We can thank Bl. Jordan for not hiding the holiness of St. Dominic under a bushel basket, but allowing it to shine forth, to God’s glory and to all mankind. Through Bl. Jordan’s intercession, we ask that God raise up many more men to follow St. Dominic in the Order of Preachers.

Blessed Jordan of Saxony, worthy successor of St. Dominic, in the early days of the Order, your example and zeal prompted many men and women to follow Christ in the white habit of Our Holy Father. As patron of Dominican vocations, continue to stimulate talented and devoted men and women to consecrate their lives to God. Through your intercession, lead to the Order of Preachers generous and sacrificing persons, willing to give themselves fervently to the apostolate of Truth. Help them to prepare themselves to be worthy of the grace of a Dominican vocation. Inspire their hearts to become learned of God, that with firm determination they might aspire to be “champions of the Faith and true lights of the world.”

Day 7 of Novena (or Day 5)

Image: The Death of St. Dominic de Guzman

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