By Amanda Pizzolatto (Rated G)
The month of August in the Catholic Church is dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which makes it perfect for the biggest names in the Dominican order to have feast days in this month. The Dominican Order is known for their dedication to and honor of the Mother of God. They are not the only order to be known to have the Mother of God as their special patroness, but they are the most associated with her special protection. This is thanks in part to the fact that the founder of the Dominican Order, St. Dominic de Guzman, was given the directions for the Rosary, one of the best known and biggest prayers to and in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary that focuses on her life and the life of Jesus Christ. Another reason is that they preached the Faith through the Rosary, as God revealed to them through our Lady that He wished to use this method to help people follow His laws and keep to the path that leads to Heaven. But, I really wanted to talk about three Dominicans in particular, my three favorite saints who have feasts in August and are rather important in their countries: St. Dominic, St. Hyacinth of Poland, and St. Rose of Lima.
St. Dominic de Guzman is the best known as I mentioned earlier as the founder of the Dominican Order, hence their name. The order’s official name is the Order of Preachers, the acronym being O.P.. The Blessed Mother had a big hand in the founding of this order in addition to giving St. Dominic the Rosary. She also presented one of Dominic’s followers, Blessed Reginald of Orleans, with the scapular (the part of the habit that covers the shoulders) that the Dominicans wear to this day, part of the recognizable black and white habit (the Brown Scapular that looks more like a necklace is from the Carmelites and is a little different than the scapular worn by religious orders). Anyway, back to St. Dominic. He was alive during a time when there were quite a few heresies going around in the Catholic Church, the most prominent being the Albigensian Heresy. The Albigensians believed that all things spiritual were good and all things physical were bad, even though God made both and called both good (before the Devil came around and started messing up a few things). Also, it is stated in the book of the Apocalypse that God will reunite our bodies and souls after the end times, so to believe that all physical things that were created by God are evil in and of themselves was obviously a big problem. So Dominic gathered men who were well versed in their Faith and burning with love for God, many of whom were straight out of college, to help him combat this heresy and rekindle the love people had once had for God. But some of those men brought the Faith to countries that were calling for it.
St. Hyacinth of Poland was one such man. He, his brother, and two friends were received into the order by St. Dominic himself. After a couple of years of training and learning, they returned to their homeland of Poland and began the conversion process. Many people converted because, like most Dominicans, Hyacinth knew how convey his love of God through his words, and many hearts were lit with that fire. And like many Dominicans, St. Hyacinth had a special devotion to the Mother of God. His most prominent miracle, which has led to his most well-known image, involves an invasion of the Mongols at Kiev. He went into the church to save the Sacred Hosts, the Body of Christ, and heard the voice of our Lady asking him to take the statue too. This statue was made of stone and very heavy, heavier than what Hyacinth could normally lift (which means I wouldn’t have stood a chance), but he took the statue in one arm and held the Sacred Hosts in the other, and was able to get both out of the church just fine. But seriously, thinking about how heavy that statue was makes my arms sore, and the fact that Hyacinth wouldn’t have been able to lift it without heavenly aid really should indicate how heavy the statue was. Anyway, this is why he is often shown (wherever one might see him) with a ciborium in one hand and the statue in the other (because pictures don’t care about weight). But thanks in part to his efforts, the country of Poland was converted to Catholicism, and Hyacinth is its patron saint.
Finally, last but most certainly not least, there is St. Rose of Lima, my personal patroness. Rose wasn’t even supposed to be her name at first, she was baptised Isabel for her grandmother, but God insisted upon the name Rose, and she received it officially in Confirmation (I named her my personal patroness at my own Confirmation). After having read her story, I couldn’t help but desire to have her as my spiritual friend and sister. She was one of the youngest of eleven children, was great with gardening, sewing, and music, and was voted most likely to gain a good match by her mother. Well, what her mother didn’t count on was that good match being the King of the Universe, Jesus Christ Himself. No, her mother only sought physical wealth, at first. Eventually she too became a Dominican, but a nun, whereas Rose was a Tertiary, meaning she did not live in a convent and became more of a hermit than anything else. St. Rose lived with her family until the last two years of her life, when she moved to a family friend’s house and lived out the remainder of her days. But during that short time – she only lived to be 31 – she procured many miracles from the hands of God. One such miracle was the saving of Lima, and practically all of Peru, from the hands of Dutch pirates. Though God had already told her that the pirates would not land, the people of the city did not believe her until they had news that the Dutch had left a nearby port city. The people associated the rescue with her prayers, even though she had already mentioned that they would be just fine and they would not be pillaged by pirates. God gave a more absolute sign that He cherished this little flower when miracles of many kinds occurred after her passing. First, her body smelled of roses, and secondly, many people who asked to be cured were cured after reaching her body. One little boy had never been able to walk, but once he got to the body of St. Rose, he was able to use his legs for the very first time.
These are just three of the massive, and interesting, family of St. Dominic, my three personal favorites, though others like Blessed Imelda Lambertini, St. Peter Martyr, St. Thomas Aquinas, Blessed Reginald of Orleans, St. Catherine of Siena, and St. Martin de Porres are quite fun to read about and learn about as well. Of course I don’t just like Dominican saints, other favorite saints are St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Anthony of Padua, and St. Agnes, but the majority of my favorites do belong to the Dominican Order. The saints and blesseds of that order have interesting stories, and the more I to learn more about them, the more I admire them. Perhaps this is because they are the topmost teaching order of all orders, perhaps it is because they are considered the most intellectual order, perhaps it is because of their close association to the Blessed Virgin Mary, to whom I too have a special devotion and a special joy is found in the Rosary. But no matter the reason, the Dominicans are very special to me and I hope that, one day, I will get to meet them in Heaven.
Contemplare et contemplata aliis tradere
(To study and to hand on the fruits of study, or to contemplate and to hand on the fruits of contemplation)