Dreams of their Mothers — St. Monica and Bl. Jane of Aza

August 27, 2014

Today the Church celebrates the feast day of St. Monica, mother of St. Augustine, or Holy Father Augustine as Dominicans know him. St. Dominic had many ties with St. Augustine, beginning his religious life as a canon under the Rule of Augustine, a rule he later chose for his Order of Preachers. But the mothers of both saints also shared something in common: visions of their sons’ futures. Bl. Jordan of Saxony records the dream of Bl. Jane of Aza, Dominic’s mother:

“Before [Dominic’s] 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.”[1]

Augustine himself relates his mother’s vision:

“Her vision was of herself standing on a rule made of wood. A young man came to her, handsome, cheerful, and smiling to her at a time when she was sad and ‘crushed with grief.’ He asked her the reasons why she was downcast and daily in floods of tears—the question being intended, as is usual in such visions, to teach her rather than to learn the answer. She had replied that she mourned my perdition. He then told her to have no anxiety and exhorted her to direct her attention and to see that where she was, there was I also. When she looked, she saw me standing beside her on the same rule.”[2]

An old adage says: “Behind every great man there’s a great woman.” Behind the lives these two great saints were the dreams of two great mothers. — Br. Bonaventure Chapman, OP

Image: Ary Scheffer, Saint Augustine and Saint Monica   [1] Jordan of Saxony, Libellus, no. 5 (trans. from Holy Rosary Province: http://www.holyrosaryprovince.org/2011/media/essencial/libellus.pdf) [2] Augustine, Confessions III.xi.19, trans. H. Chadwick (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998).

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