Monday, 8 August 2011

The Miracles of Saint Dominic

Today is the feast of Saint Dominic. As with many saints the spirit of God worked in this mans life in so many ways. Here are a few legends surrounding this great man:


An aged and respected citizen of Cahors, called Peter de Salvagnac, told us the following incident, professing his readiness to swear to the fact. When he was present with Count Simon de Montfort at the siege of Toulouse, a band of English pilgrims on their way to St James's shrine turned aside from Toulouse on account of the interdict under which it lay, and entered a light craft for the purpose of being ferried over the river. The overcrowded ferry capsized, for they were nearly forty in number, and all sank. Hearing their drowning cries and the shouts of the soldiers standing by, St Dominic, who had been praying in a church close by, came out, and seeing the accident, threw himself on the ground, then with outstretched arms and bitter tears he besought God in heart and with words of mouth, nay, as it were with holy boldness, commanded him to save the pilgrims from death. In the sight of the crusaders and others who were witnesses of the mishap, straightway they all appeared on the level of the water as if they were quietly sitting on dry land, each in the place where he had gone down: then the bystanders stretching out their spears and lances, drew them all out of the water unharmed.


When St Dominic was crossing the river Ari├Ęge on one of his apostolic journeys in the country round Toulouse, he let his books fall in mid-stream. He was so entirely rapt in the thought of God at the time that he was not aware of his loss until he got to the house of a kindly disposed woman who used to lodge him out of reverence for his great merits. On telling her of the loss of his books the good woman began to fret, but the gracious father comforted her by saying: 'Grieve not, good mother, for we ought to bear cheerfully every cross it pleases God to send us.' Three days later a fisherman coming to the spot where they had fallen in, cast in his line, and soon after, thinking he had hooked a prize, landed the books, which were as thoroughly preserved and uninjured as if they had been kept in some library. This was all the more astounding as they were not covered with wax-cloth nor any kind of wrapper which might have saved them. The good woman getting possession of them dispatched them to our holy father at Toulouse.


While traveling in that same country with some of his brethren it chanced one day that they had only one small cup of wine for their repast. Now among those present that day there were some who had come from a delicate life in the world, and who found it very hard to swallow dry bread. This true servant of God feeling for their want bade them put the little they had into a larger vessel, the bottom of which it barely covered, and then to fill it up with water. This done through holy obedience, he had the wine drawn and set before them, and all vowed that they had never tasted better in their lives before. Those that partook of it were eight in number, yet they had more than enough. Brother William of Pelisso vouches for the truth of these miracles.


After this the glorious father returned to Italy in company with a lay brother named John. This brother became so reduced from hunger in the Lombard Alps that he could not move a step further, nor even rise to his feet. 'What ails you, my son?' enquired the gentle father. 'Why do you not keep up with me!' 'Father, I am truly dying of hunger,' cried the weary brother. 'Take courage then, my son, let us go just a little further and we shall get all we want for recruiting our strength.' But as the brother still held out, avowing he could not drag himself a step farther, the saint, with that kindness and sweet pity for which he was ever remarkable, had recourse to his usual refuge of fervent prayer. For a brief space he communed with God, and then addressed the brother once more: 'Rise up, son, go straight before you to yonder spot, and bring back what you find there.' The brother got up with difficulty, and dragging himself to the spot indicated -- which was about a stone's throw off -- saw there an exceedingly white loaf wrapt in a snowwhite cloth, which he brought back with him; then after eating until his strength revived he continued his journey.

Now when they had gone some way on, the brother began to think the matter over, and in his amazement cried out: 'My God, who put the bread in that lonely spot? Where can it have come from? Surely I must have parted with my wits not to have made further enquiries about it?' Then addressing St Dominic he said: 'Father, where did yon bread come from? Whoever put it there?' Upon which this true lover and observer of humility rejoined: 'My son, have you not had as much as you wanted" 'Yes, father,' said the other. 'Very well then, since you have had as much as pleased you, thank God for it, and trouble yourself no more about it.' The brother acquainted the brethren with all this on his return to Spain. He was afterwards sent in company with those brethren of ours who went by the Pope's command to Africa to spread the Catholic faith, and after happily finishing his course at Morocco he departed to the Lord.


There was a devout woman of Segovia at whose house St Dominic used occasionally to lodge, and in which he once left behind a tunic of sackcloth which he had worn till a short time before this, when he had changed it for a very painful hair shirt. The good woman finding this tunic put it in a box among her other valuables, and guarded it more carefully than if it had been of imperial purple. One day it chanced that after shutting up her house she went out hurriedly on business, leaving a large fire burning on the hearth, and this falling forward burnt the house down with the exception of the wooden chest in which she kept the tunic; the box was not so much as charred or scorched, though standing in the midst of the flames. The good woman was astonished on her return at beholding such a miracle, and gave hearty thanks to God and her guest St Dominic, whose tunic had saved from destruction the whole of her property which she kept in that very chest. After detaching the sleeves she gave the remaining portion to our brethren to be kept reverently, and to this day it is laid away among the conventual relics of that place.


While travelling from Toulouse to Paris in company with Brother Bertrand de Garrigue,  who was the first Provincial of Provence, our holy father spent the night in watching and prayer in the church of our Lady at Roc-Amadour.  Next day they came up with a band of pilgrims from Germany, who, hearing them reciting the Psalms and Litanies, joined company with them, and on coming to the next town hospitably entertained them during three days. One morning St Dominic addressed Brother Bertrand after this fashion: 'Good brother, I am much troubled in conscience seeing that we are reaping the material good things of these pilgrims without sowing spiritual ones in return, so, if it please you, let us kneel down and ask God to enable us to understand their tongue, that we may preach Jesus Christ to them.' This they did, and to the bewilderment of the pilgrims they began to speak fluently in German, and as they trudged along together during the next four days, they continued conversing about our Lord Jesus Christ until they came to Orleans. There the Germans, who were on their way to Chartres, parted company with them on the road which led to Paris, after humbly commending themselves to their prayers. Some time after this our holy father said to Brother Bertrand: 'Brother, we are now going to enter Paris, and if our brethren here only knew of that miracle which God wrought in us they would repute us to be saints, whereas we are but sinners, and if it got rumoured abroad we should be liable to vanity: wherefore, in virtue of holy obedience I forbid you to mention it to a soul until after my death.' Nor was it divulged to our brethren until after his death.


Coming  once to Chatillon on one of his many journeys through France, it chanced that the infant son of his hostess (the sister of the parish priest of the town) had but a little while before fallen from a terrace, and his parents were lamenting his death. Moved with pity at the sight of their grief, St Dominic prostrated himself for a short space in prayer, shedding many tears; then, feeling his prayer heard, he rose and gave back the boy alive and well to his mother. The sorrow-stricken home was filled with joy; the child's uncle, the parish priest, got ready a great supper and invited many honest folk to rejoice with him. But the child's mother being unable to partake of an eel which was served up, because of an ague with which she was afflicted, the saint after making over it the sign of the cross gave it her to eat, saying: 'Take and eat it in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.' The woman ate some of it and was cured.


Happening to come to a certain convent door long after the inmates had retired to rest, and not wishing to disturb them, he and his companion prostrated themselves in prayer before the porch, and asked of God that he would provide for their wants without disturbing those within. Wonderful to relate, whereas they had been lying outside the gate, they found themselves in a moment transported within. The same thing befell him when returning from a disputation with the heretics accompanied by a Cistercian lay brother, by whom many memorable records as to his sanctity have been related. Coming at a late hour to the church and finding it locked they began to pray outside, and in a short space of time through the divine help unexpectedly found themselves within, where they spent the night in watching.

There were many other miracles even after His death. They can be found Here!


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