St. Dominic’s Successor: The Life of Blessed Jordan of Saxony

St. Dominic's Successor
St. Dominic's Successor
$18.00
Learned and filled with holiness, he not only organized the constitutions, and established the Salve Regina after compline but was instrumental guiding the work of others to establish the Dominican Liturgy.
Though master-general of the order, Bl. Jordan’s humility prevented him from attributing himself as a director of any human authority. He was not and did not wish to be anything but a docile instrument of grace. As a director of conscience in his breadth and delicacy, Jordan had the Catholic sense of the omnipotent and infinite freedom of God and of the supernatural freedom of souls in relation to God. Like Dominic, he had the faith which moves mountains, and also he had hope of great assistance, which was never to fail him, especially and above all that of the Roman Church.
Marguerite Aaron captures the man and his times in this excellent biography, which not only makes use of the ample historical documentation but also utilizes them to enter intimately into his personality, a rare thing with the famous men of his era. Tracing his time from the University of Paris to his death, Aron’s biography is a first rate history, readable, well sourced and well-written. This is the only source in English to learn about the man who picked up and carried St. Dominic’s torch!

***Sample Chapter***

Jordan must have left Bologna at the beginning of April for the General Chapter of the Friars Preachers convened at Paris for Pentecost, May 22, 1222.

What had he done as Provincial of Lombardy, what part had he played in the destiny of the Order since the day when, in company with Everard de Langres, he had left the convent of St Jacques whither he was now summoned back for the General Chapter? At Bologna he had strengthened, enlarged and at the same time wisely consolidated Dominican action. At the time of St Dominic’s death, four priories were being founded: in the valley of the Po, at Brescia, where Guala of Bergamo was now in charge; at Parma; at Plaisance; and at Venice, the last of those intended by St Dominic.
Jordan did what was necessary to establish these houses. But already he was hopeful of making a foundation as yet still uncertain in a place which, according to him, was still more qualified to have a house of Friars Preachers, namely, Padua. Padua, whither doctors and lawyers who found themselves in disaccord with the citizens of Bologna so often emigrated, was the most urgently needed of Lombard foundations. Without doubt Jordan had already been there to ascertain the intentions of the Commune and had worked to instal the Friars Preachers there, for in 1223 the Padua Priory was established.
But we get the impression, hard to prove from definite texts but deduced from general facts, that in this first year of his administrative work the influence of Jordan must have gone beyond the Lombard province. His correspondence with Henry of Marbourg, Prior of Cologne, now unfortunately lost but spoken of by himself in De Initiis Ordinis; his relations with the Universities of Paris and Oxford; his collaboration with the legate of the Apostolic See in Lombardy, Cardinal Ugolino, an all-powerful personage at the Roman Curia, in all that concerned the fight against heresy and the extension of the preaching of the Church; all this allows us to think, not without foundation, that he must have already been mixed up in the general affairs of the entire Order; the more so as the absolute unanimity of his election, on May 22, 1222, made it appear to be the solemn ratification of an established fact.
According to a tradition in early Dominican writings at this chapter he must already, by an act of supreme authority, have decided to send two missionary Preachers to the Holy Land, Burchart of Strasbourg and a brother called Xyronius of Milan.
When Jordan was put at the head of the eight provinces and the forty Priories that the Order had established between 1217 and 1222, he courageously foresaw how they should increase from then on.
In the University of Paris, in the same St Jacques where two years before he had taken the habit of the Friars Preachers, Jordan received the highest office of the whole Order.
It was neither the time nor the place to look back. The Priory itself was already being rebuilt; under the impetus of the new Master, the work increased and so, as at St Nicholas of the Vineyards, the noise of carts unloading materials, the clatter of tools, the shouts of masons, mingled with the psalms of the Office and the coming and going of curious students. The Friars Preachers of St Jacques—the Jacobins, as they were called by the people of Paris, whose number in 1219 was not more than thirty, were one hundred and twenty in 1223. They were probably near to a hundred in 1222, and it is certain that the first buildings were no longer large enough for them. Steven of Bourbon, contemporary Friar Preacher who received the habit at Lyons in 1223 but who had been studying theology at Paris before that date, had known and frequented the Priory of St Jacques and speaks of the work of construction which was then going on. The little chapel of Jean de Barastre was already giving place to a much larger church, very simple in style, with two naves, one for friars and clerics, the other for laymen. At the same time they began to build the cloister, a large refectory, and an infirmary. This work was so urgent that it was completed with a speed not common at those times. This explains the relatively short duration of the buildings of St Jacques, and their complete disappearance when so many other buildings of the same period have left vestiges still standing today. After Jean de Barastre, dean of St Quentin, their first benefactor, it was the University of Paris and its Commune which became benefactors of the Friars Preachers. The University had just conceded to them all rights not only to the hospice of St Jacques but also to the adjoining houses belonging to it; and at the time of the election of Jordan, at least within the month following it—since the gift was ratified by Philip Augustus, who died in 1223—the Commune of Paris gave the Friars Preachers a building large enough for them, enclosed in the ramparts between the St Michael Gate and the St James Gate, and the close adjoining it outside the walls, formerly the ‘Clos du Bourgeois’, which now became the ‘Clos des Jacobins’.
Such considerable additions were not made without great expense. As at Bologna, the Friars Preachers knew financial difficulties. As at Bologna, these were cleared up; not by a bishop-legate but, at the request of the Bishop of Paris, by the Queen, Blanche of Castile.
This fact is attested by Stephen of Bourbon. Blanche of Castile was about to make a pilgrimage to St James of Compostello and was ready to devote to it ‘a marvellous outlay’. The bishop, William of Auvergne, her confessor, who knew that the Parisian Friars Preachers were completely unable to pay off a debt of about 1,500 livres, said to her: ‘Madame, do you not think that you could do something better than spend so much money for the glory of the world and to make a great display in your native land?’
And she, who knew very well in her heart that this pretentious pilgrimage was more a parade than an act of piety, replied: ‘Give me your advice; I am ready to follow it.’
‘The Friars Preachers’, said William, ‘who are called the Friars of St Jacques, are in debt more than 1,500 livres. Take your pilgrim’s staff and go to St Jacques, their house, and pay their debt; and since I have commuted your vow, I promise you that I will answer for you at the Day of Judgment; for you could not do better than to use in this way the money which would otherwise have served only for useless pomp.’ And ‘the woman of wise heart followed the advice of the holy man’.
This holy man was William of Auvergne, who was consecrated Bishop in 1228, and if he was already a bishop at the time of this incident, this puts it between 1228 and 1230. This must indeed have been a difficult time for the Friars to have large debts falling due in the work, which was begun in 1221 or 1222, seems to have been finished in 1231, and judging by the size of the buildings the cost must have exceeded first estimates.
We can see the hand of Jordan in those events whose material shapes we can grasp. Already in 1222 the future Regent of France, soon to be Queen by the accession of Louis VIII, gave ear to the advice of the Master General and showed herself to be a faithful friend of the Friars Preachers. Taken as a child to France to be married when she was scarcely sixteen years old, perhaps she had in the first place loved in Dominic de Guzman and in his first sons something of her own native Castile. She must have seen Blessed Mannes arrive in Paris in 1217. She must have seen St Dominic in 1219. We can scarcely believe that, coming back just then from Spain, St Dominic could have gone through Paris without greeting the daughter of King Alphonso there, without, perhaps, taking to her—in those times when it was the custom to entrust letters to travellers—some message from her homeland.
However that may be, Blanche had confidence in and a constant veneration for the Preachers. It was apparently she who, already near to becoming Queen, obtained from the dying Philip Augustus the grants of land for the enlargement of St Jacques. It was she who urged her husband, Louis VIII, after his accession to the throne, to take up the crusade against the Albigensian heresy in accordance with the wishes of the papal legate, Cardinal Romain de St Ange, and by reason of the information which the Friars Preachers would have given her about the district of Toulouse.
An event which occurred only fifteen days after the election of Jordan as Master General confirmed the interest which Blanche of Castile had in the Friars Preachers and in the extension of their Order in the kingdom of France; and in this event it is impossible not to see Jordan’s own work and influence.
A day’s ride from Paris, on the wooded plateau which dominates the valley of the Eure, the episcopal city of Chartres, although deprived of its former scholastic prestige by the recent growth of the University of Paris, still remained a city of schools and scholars. Peter the Lombard had taught the Sentences there, great masters had come out of it, subtle dialecticians, recognized mathematicians, Guillaume de Couches, Gilbert de la Porrée, who had drawn to their lectures students of all nations. In spite of its decline, at about 1222 Chartres still had illustrious canonists: the Chancellor Robert de Brou, the Dean Bartholomy, soon to be bishop of Paris, the de Grey brothers, Aubry Cornut, Constantine of Sicily.
If a breath of discord arose between students and townsfolk in Paris, just as those of Bologna went to Padua, Verona and Sienna, so Parisian students would make their way to Chartres. No one knew and foresaw this better than Master Jordan.
But there was yet another motive that turned his thoughts toward Chartres. Chartres, a privileged home of devotion to our Lady, had its first cathedral destroyed by fire in 1194, and afterwards, by an unusual co-operation of benefactors of all ranks, benevolent workmen of all conditions and anonymous pilgrims of every social class, raised the triumphant edifice which still stands. A fervour of pious generosity animated a whole army of workmen and craftsmen, stone-masons, master workmen and glass-makers, whose encampment obeyed the discipline, not of bugles and military commands, but of prayers and church bells. Blanche of Castile had taken upon herself the cost of building the north door, especially the famous rose window with the arms of France and of Castile which rises above it, where her son is delineated as a young blond King Solomon; nor was this work finished without her arriving from time to time to see the progress that was being made on it.
She was at Chartres on the Sunday after the Octave of Pentecost in the year 1222, on June 16, fifteen days after the Chapter of St Jacques and the election of the Master General. And there she presided at a ceremony at which Jordan, if he was not there in person, as was probable, was certainly present in spirit. Before the Bishop Gautier of Chartres, the dean of his chapter, Hugues de la Ferté, and a great gathering of magistrates, nobles, and clerics whose names are unfortunately not recorded in the text which has come down to us, she solemnly confirmed the gift of a house made to the Friars Preachers by Hugues de la Ferté. This house, according to tradition, was against the rampart near the Clos Muret. A little old chapel adjoined it, but it needed to be rebuilt.
We do not know who the first Friars Preachers were whom the priory of St Jacques sent to Chartres. But we do know that their installation there was not without difficulties, for, though they had the bishop and the dean on their side, they had the majority of the canons against them; and the sequence of events allows us to understand very well why Jordan had asked Blanche of Castile to give so much help by her presence and that of her court in respect of the donation of Hugues de la Ferté. He had to establish the Friars Preachers in Chartes in such an emphatic way that hostility would be forced to withdraw, but it was not to be finally overcome for eight years and that not without conflict.
The place ceded to the Friars Preachers remained, in accordance with the jurisdiction proper to such places, under the patronage of the Chapter. The Friars could not change anything or build anything without its consent. But a small house was not sufficient to allow the Preachers to have a regular priory and church, and in particular the thing that was essential to their purpose and certainly of greater moment to the bishop, namely, a school.
But the canons were firm in their refusal to allow the Friars Preachers the right to arrange as they wished the place which had been conceded to them and to celebrate the Divine Office there. Quibbling and wrangling, the dissident canons managed by invoking particular laws and usages of the district of Chartres to delay matters from year to year until 1230. It required a fulminating bull from Pope Gregory IX to overcome their stubbornness.
This papal document, sealed as from Anagni on November 9, 1230, was not drawn up without the intermediation of Jordan, as we shall see later; and again it was Blanche of Castile who lent confirmation to its effects by assisting at the first Mass celebrated in the new church of the convent of St Jacques at Chartres on the octave day of the Ascension. She offered to the friars chasubles, copes and dalmatics of silk, and a great silver cross, gilded, ornamented with a fleur-de-lis, containing a relic of the wood of the true Cross.
The first Prior was Nicholas of Sienna, later Provincial of the Holy Land; he came to Chartres from Orléans, where he was a teacher, and was elected in chapter on St Michael’s day, September 29, 1231, in the presence of Pierre de Reims, Provincial of France, and soon to be preacher and advisor to St Louis. The following year, at the Provincial Chapter of France, he and his definitors made a proposition, we do not know what, which was accepted and confirmed by Jordan in a circular letter which has disappeared but the text of which the historian of the Priory of Chartres, Father Le Febvre (Praedicator Carnutens), had seen at the beginning of the seventeenth century, and he had copied a passage which interested him.
From then on the house of the Friars Preachers at Chartres greatly extended its scope. Their lectures in theology were open to students from outside. Some of their masters, like Friar William d’Autun, went to the Sorbonne; two others, Brother Thomas d’Epeautrolles and Brother John d’Anet, were respectively chaplain to St Louis and his confessor for twenty years, and both were his historians.
Blanche of Castile and her son seem to have preserved a warm regard for Chartres. As for Jordan, this was his first foundation in the Province of France and one that he held dearest to his heart. But he had to visit the other priories of the Order and Lombardy called him back. It is probable that, if he preached in Advent to the students of Paris, he would return to Bologna to preach the Lent there, because it was his almost invariable custom to spend Lent where the General Chapter was held. Thus the Chapter became the occasion for the Master to give the habit to the novices who had been converted during Lent. Moreover, he must have preached at Bologna for Pentecost, June 11, 1223, at the General Chapter.
Another matter, which for some months he had followed attentively from afar, claimed his presence and his authority. Diana d’Andalo had gradually overcome the resistance of her family and the scruples of the bishop of Bologna. Ronzano was to her only a temporary refuge; her wish was to live, under the rule of the Friars Preachers and under their direction, a life of contemplation and mortification for the benefit of their Order. Jordan also wished to see a house of Dominican nuns built at Bologna; he could foresee its social value and the supernatural help it would provide.
It must have been his arrival which finally decided matters, for they were hurried through; the contract of sale of the land bought by ‘the Lady Diana’ to build her convent on was drawn up by a notary in the church of Ronzano on May 13, 1223. Evidently both buyer and seller were already in agreement, for she had only been waiting for that moment to begin the layout of the spot, the cloister and the construction of the little house, low and poor as it was, which received the first Sisters; three weeks afterwards, on the Octave of the Ascension, June 8, 1223, Diana and the four young women of Bologna whom she brought with her came down from Ronzano again and received the Dominican habit in this humble dwelling which had been prepared for them: a robe of white wool with a capuce of the same material, a leather belt, white veil, cappa of coarse serge of black or brown. Finally, on June 29, the feast of St Peter and St Paul, the new Sisters made their solemn vows before Brother Rudolph and Brother Ventura, Brother Bernard the Teuton and Brother Guala of Bergamo, who served as witnesses.
Thus the convent of St Agnes was founded. It was situated outside the city, between the San Mandalo Gate and the Gate of Saragozza, on a little hill not far from St Nicholas of the Vineyards, at a place called Volsampero. Diana’s desire was fully satisfied.
It was Jordan who had brought this to pass, and who had attached enough importance to the consecration of the nuns of St Agnes to delay his departure several days. But a strange impatience possessed him. Not all the students of Bologna had attended the Lenten preaching. Several groups of Ultramontans, after one of their frequent quarrels with the Lombard townsfolk and the Cismontan clerics, had left Bologna before Jordan’s arrival. Jordan, who had got to know them the previous year, was aware of the value there was in them, what advances some of them had made to him and what hopes they had raised in him. He went back in mind to a certain sixteen-year-old student at Padua, a lively and delicate lad, son of a great German family. He knew this youth’s fancy to enter the Order, and how this was opposed by his uncle, who lived with him and who had made him promise not to listen to the Friars Preachers’ sermons any more. He could not forget his fervour, his assurance. Above all, at a glance the Master of Arts, the great mathematician, Nemorarius, had seen in this young man a precocious and assured scientific genius. Such an intelligence, in a soul already sanctified, would radiate a great light. By bringing him into the sound and vigorous Dominican way of life and learning, he would be saved from the current dissipation of mind, from the attraction of useless ambitions, he would be consecrated to truth. Jordan had no wish to make him abandon the sciences. On the contrary, he encouraged him to pursue those researches of which ignorant people were afraid, which frightened timid people; they alone could build a bridge between routine theology, too far removed from rational and experimental methods, and a liberal culture that was without restraint, dangerous to subtle imaginations and to consciences not balanced by a sufficiently strong faith. Albert of Lawingen would be a great man. Master Jordan must find him again and win him over.
Meanwhile, the final establishment of the Priory at Venice, of which the preliminary plans had been drawn up by St Dominic two years before, urgently demanded the presence of the Master General, and to go first to Venice was to travel toward Padua. He did not let Diana d’Andalo keep him. Admittedly, for so young and new a religious as she to undertake alone the formation in the religious life of companions yet more inexperienced than herself was well-nigh impractical; difficulties were already appearing. But provision could be made. ‘Be patient’, Jordan would write to his daughter. These are the letters which, after seven hundred years, provide us with the landmarks of his journeying and bring his travels and his preaching to life again.
So he set forth with long strides, along the dusty road, under the harsh July sun. Two friars accompanied him, Brother Archangelus and Brother John. Archangelus was a man of Bologna, known to Diana to whom he is attached and whose prayers he requests. John and he were to accompany the Master to Paris; their names, which appear again and again, enable us to locate the letters where they are mentioned in the postscripts and to reconstruct their trip with certainty. There are reasons to suppose that these two young Friars Preachers of good family were taken by Jordan to St Jacques so that they could study theology there.
They travelled at his side. The Master sometimes spoke to them of the things of God and of the Order, sometimes remained silent and recollected, inviting them to silence and to prayer, sometimes chanted aloud with them the Psalms of the Office and anthems he loved, such as nostra redemptio, and especially the Salve Regina. They walked quickly and with light step. The two Brothers were scarcely able to keep up with this smiling, robust man, whose temples were already beginning to grow grey, whose head was bowed sometimes by the weight of so much thought.
The first stop on the route must have been Faenza, where still today the road from Bologna forks to Florence at the south-east and to Ravenna toward the west. One of the first Lombard Priories had been established there three or four years before. From there it was not far to Ravenna, where they could take ship to Venice, thus saving considerable time. Jordan was in a great hurry; doubtless this is the route he took and stayed only a very short time at Venice; the letter in which he informs Diana of his happy arrival in that city announces at the same time his departure for Padua.
This short letter had two objects: Jordan did not forget the spiritual needs of his daughter; he urges her to strengthen herself and her sisters in charity. ‘Soon will come the wedding-feast of the Lamb’, he wrote. ‘He will give the sweet wine of the date-palm to those whose soul is bitter with the thirst of love.’ A mystic exhortation which is meant to help the nuns of St Agnes to live in the love and in the hope of God. But at the same time he assigns a precise object to their prayers: that they beg Jesus Christ to bless the preaching that he is about to undertake at Padua, that they obtain ‘for his voice the power of the Word, so that it may bring forth fruit to the honour of God’.
That was his great preoccupation and also his hope. While he went along the road from Venice to Padua, meditating on his sermons, his memory turned back, tender and confiding, towards the humble cloister where he knew they prayed unceasingly for him; dear little house, not in vain has its foundation already cost so much trouble; it is the holy reservoir upon which he relies for his preaching; it will not be either his talent or his prestige, but the unremitting sacrifices and valiant faith of this handful of religious women that will bring down divine grace and win the victory.
Meanwhile these matters were to be long drawn out. The next letter asks again for prayers: ‘The students of Padua are terribly cold; so far only one of them has allowed himself to be won over… I recommend to you to pray assiduously to our Lord that he may deign to move their hearts and to draw them to him for their own salvation, for the glory of God and the Church, and for the growth of our Order.’
On her part, Diana doubtless implored direction and words of consolation. Jordan excused himself for having no leisure to write at length to her; he gives her over to the care of the Holy Spirit, ‘whose consolations are unmixed, and infuse into the soul truth in its entirety. Rest in him, and wait patiently in him for the time of my return.’
The weeks went by, the month of August came, and Jordan, a prey to discouragement, was thinking of returning. But no; suddenly grace flooded into the closed hearts of these students hitherto indifferent; ten of them entered the Order, ‘and among them two sons of two great German lords; one was a provost-marshal, loaded with many honours and possessed of great riches; the other has resigned rich benefices and is truly noble in body and mind.’ This was Albert de Lawingen; he had triumphed over temptation and the artifices of the world, over his uncle, and over his own hesitations; later, among the tribulations of life, it was enough for him to remember the words of Master Jordan at this decisive moment to regain strength and certainty.
He was bound to the Order for ever. Jordan’s letter is a canticle of thanksgiving, a song of praise. He addressed it not to Diana alone, but to ‘his sisters of St Agnes, very dear in Christ’. All had shared in the labour, all must share in the honour and all must be thanked.
Another letter to Diana followed soon after. Twenty-three others had come to join the first ten recruits, ‘all clerics eminent in letters, except two layman who would be Lay-brothers; several are of the high nobility’. Six others, ‘quite notable’, had made a promise binding them in conscience to enter the Order later, and many still were expected. Overwhelmed, Jordan had sent for Brother Ventura, his successor in the office of Prior Provincial of Lombardy, and probably also with him Rudolph de Faenza and several friars formerly at the Priory at Bologna.
It became urgent to open a house of Friars Preachers at Padua: they must profit by the enthusiasm of the University world and by the good dispositions of the town, which was anxious to have the students and masters start this house without delay. Jordan could not wait any longer at Padua; Brother Ventura had the necessary authority and experience to take his place, to begin the education of the novices and, if need be, while waiting for the foundation of the new convent, to take them to the ‘studium’ of Bologna.
Diana was alarmed at the abrupt departure of Brother Ventura, her Superior, her spiritual father, her adviser in Jordan’s absence and her support since the departure of the Master. There was far from unanimity in the house of the Friars Preachers of Bologna on the subject of the foundation of St Agnes; several of them disapproved of the expenses and the anxieties generally involved in looking after monasteries of women; they felt great repugnance for this new charge, not having grasped its value for the Order. Therefore Diana must have felt very strongly about Brother Ventura’s departure.
Jordan reassured her. ‘Do not have any uneasiness on the subject of Brother Ventura’, he wrote, ‘for it is not with the intention of making him Prior of Padua that I have called him here.’ He did more. How could she have thought that he would lose sight of St Agnes, that he was not concerned to organize its life and regularize its administration? Negotiations were under way at Rome to arrange for the transfer to Bologna of a little nucleus of those Sisters of St Sixtus which had been founded not long ago by St Dominic himself. The Prior of the Roman province was charged with this duty. ‘He has written to me’, said Jordan to Diana, ‘about the matter of the Sisters of St Sixtus, and as far as they are concerned, all goes well and they are well disposed towards it.’ The difficulties and the delays in this matter must have come, not from the nuns themselves, but from Honorius III who, proud of his convent of St Sixtus, could not bring himself to denude it in this way.
Jordan wrote in paternal fashion to calm his too ardent daughter: ‘I beseech you in God of your charity that your heart be neither troubled nor afraid… Endure sadness, be patient in humility.’ Perhaps to this message of the Master, Brother Ventura, in collaboration with Rudolph de Faenza, had added the letter of exhortation, the text of which has come down to us. It is a consolation in the allegorical style of the times, addressed to Diana, their Prioress, and to the Sisters and to all in the convent of St Agnes, by Brothers Ventura, Prior, and Rudolph, of the Order of Preachers.

‘We exhort you’, it says, ‘to go forward towards the City which is above… let neither covetousness nor toil stop you: the strong castle which allows itself to be captured as soon as it suffers assault by the engines of war is reputed of little value… If sometimes your hearts are troubled by the song of deceiving sirens or the hissing of other monsters whose prey you might easily become, because you do not know their language, do as the nobles do to ensure the education of their sons, for they send them to the court of the great in France or Germany, so that equipped in every way and instructed in languages, they know how to avoid the snares. So, direct your thoughts towards the heavenly court, so that if you hear some horrible monster, you may be warned to flee the peril by the angelic tongues which resound about you.’

This text, with its clear significance delicately dressed, recalls the first letter sent to Ronzano by Jordan—so much so that it seems to reflect something of Jordan himself.
Meanwhile the Master had taken the road again.
The Priory of Padua was founded. It was the first Lombard creation of the Master General, as Chartres had been his first French creation, and both marked the progress of the Friars Preachers in the University world. Now Jordan was awaited at Brescia.
Located on the highway from Milan to the Adriatic, near Verona and Padua, Brescia had one of the first houses of Friars Preachers established in northern Italy by St Dominic. It was in existence in 1220, and from that time Guala of Bergamo was its Prior. But the original establishment in one of the churches of the town, Saint Afre, was inadequate. By an official act of May 24, 1221, Cardinal Ugolino, papal legate in Lombardy, had invested in Guala of Bergamo the possession of the church of the holy martyrs Faustinus and Jovitus, patrons of the city, with its dependencies, houses and vineyards, on condition that they paid the revenue of these dependencies to the former Canons of the place for four years more.
From then on, Guala of Bergamo was held to have the confidence of the Cardinal-Legate. He might have been forty years old. Born of a noble family, a distinguished canonist of the schools of Padua, he was already a priest when he entered the Order and was sacristan at the Priory of St Nicholas of the Vineyards from the time that Moneta of Cremona entered in 1219. He had been a witness, with Reginald and Rudolph, at the profession of Diana d’Andalo made into the hands of St Dominic, and, with Ventura, Rudolph and Bernard, at her clothing. He was one of the best business men among the Friars Preachers, one of those whose signature most often appears in official acts. In the near future he was to become a familiar of the Roman Curia, which entrusted him with very important diplomatic missions and delicate negotiations with the Lombard League and the Emperor Frederick II. He was to be bishop of Brescia from 1230 and to introduce into the communal statutes new legislation against heresy. Jordan would on many occasions have recourse to him as a negotiator and to gather information. Now he hastened to Brescia at his invitation.

St. Dominic's Successor
St. Dominic's Successor
$18.00
The year had been full of trouble for the city. An earthquake and a flood followed by an epidemic had severely tried it. To avert these evils and in the hope that they would not come again, a solemn translation of relics of the holy patrons of Brescia had been decided upon by the bishop. The relics were exposed and carried with great pomp in procession throughout the city. The Friars Preachers, guardians of the holy bodies, must have led the procession among the higher clergy and the magistrates. It was good to see the Master General in their midst and maybe he spoke in the course of the ceremony. Such demonstrations did much to confirm the prestige of the Order and to establish its authority in Lombardy which was so much disturbed by heresies, and nevertheless so rich in its religious elements. Jordan was well acquainted with the communal spirit and its passionate unreasonableness, and he knew the importance of such demonstrations. He was present at the translation on August 23.

Doubtless he expected to leave Brescia the next day to return to Bologna. But the air of Brescia was charged with the germs of marsh-fever. Jordan fell a victim to it, and attacks were to torment him repeatedly thereafter. He had to give up the return to Bologna and, as soon as he was convalescent, to go to Milan. Jordan was committed to preach the Advent to the students of Paris and to spend all the winter at St Jacques until the General Chapter which would meet at Paris, at Pentecost, 1225. The season was already advanced. To take the road over the Alps, he must go before autumn, before the first snows and the shortened days. Diana grieved in vain. He wrote to her:
‘Since I cannot see you as I wish and as you wish, with bodily eyes, I have written to you several times… so that in spite of the inexact and diverse rumours which may have reached you, your soul shall not be in the least troubled… Know then that after having suffered with fever at Brescia, I am, by God’s grace, now convalescent and have been able to come to Milan, whence I hope that I can happily continue my journey. Console yourself then in the Lord, so that I may myself be consoled thereby in the Lord, for your consolation is my joy and comfort before God. Greet all the Sisters for me and recommend me to them. To them also, good health.’

New! The History of St. Norbert

History of St. Norbert
History of St. Norbert
$25.00
History of St. Norbert Hardcover
History of St. Norbert Hardcover
$40.00

St. Norbert is perhaps one of the greatest, yet today unknown, saints of the middle ages. Above all he was a great reformer.
Born of nobility, and living in luxury with royal favor, St. Norbert suddenly had a conversion, and embarked to be a new St. Paul, throwing away his rich garments, and preaching to the faithful as a beggar.
Led further, and provided with papal approval, Norbert makes a foundation in the valley of Prémontré, whence his order gets its name. The preaching of St. Norbert and his order restored faith in the Eucharist, badly shaken by heretics, and for this he was long remembered in northern European cities badly affected by heresy such as Antwerp. His life dominated the 12th century where, as a friend of St. Bernard, he worked to reform Church life and to defend the independence of the Papacy.
The great project of St. Norbert was to combine the active and the contemplative life, by establishing canons who lived by the maxims of monastic life, to both work in the world and retire for prayer. In this he anticipates Sts. Francis and Dominic by a century.
Premonstratensian abbeys dotted the landscape of Europe until the revolutions of the 16th-18th centuries.
Fr. Kirkfleet, relying on the best histories and the most accurate primary sources, provides the most complete biography of this great saint in English.
The Mediatrix Press edition has added numerous woodcuts of the life of Norbert to beautify the work. The reprint is unchanged from the original apart from font and page sizes.
This wonderful book shows that the Holy Spirit raises up saints to defend and build up the Church in every age when they are needed, and provides us with the enduring witness of the love of the Church and the love of the Holy Eucharist to be found in the saints.

NB: Hardcover and Kindle coming soon!

Commentary on the Rule of St. Benedict

Commentary for Benedictines Oblates on the Rule of St. Benedict
G.A. Simon
Tr. Leonard

450 pages
$35.00

Our reprint of this excellent work has been completely re-typeset from the original; we have added drop caps and font effects to make a delightful reading experience. We have also increased the book dimensions so as to decrease the page numbers and make it easier to use.

The Commentary on the Rule takes into account the long history of commentary on St. Benedict’s rule and discusses this history at length in the introduction. Each chapter has a selection of the rule, following the divisions of dates on which sections of the rule are read in monasteries, then a commentary on that section, followed by an application. The commentary makes use of the very lengthy Monastic Tradition, works of the Church Fathers, Eastern Monasticism, the Scholastics and others, as well as commentary on text criticism in regards to the original Latin of the rule itself.

This wonderful text, though it is intended for Benedictine Oblates, is a worthy resource for anyone that would like to know more about the rule of St. Benedict. It is also available in hardcover.

Commentary For Benedictine Oblates on the Rule of St. Benedict
G
. A. Simon

$50.00

Pope Innocent III and His Times

The Life and Times of Pope Innocent III
Joseph Clayton
With a New Introduction by Phillip Campbell

ISBN-13: 978-1535231619
ISBN-10: 1535231610

$20.00

 

Pope Innocent III was the most energetic and iconic Pope of the Middle ages. To say Innocent III epitomizes the character of the age is no overstatement. He is frequently cited in medieval textbooks as the exemplification of a powerful papacy at the height of its temporal influence. His teachings on the relation between the sacerdotium and imperium summarize the best of the medieval tradition, often referred to as the Two Sword theory (cf. Luke 22:38), where the two swords held by St. Peter represent the temporal and spiritual authority, both of which are in the keeping of the Church – though one is delegated to the state. In his actions in relation to the great figures of his time, Pope Innocent III is the dominant figure, determining the direction of Christendom by his assent or dissent. He received England as a feudal fief from King John, bartered with the patrimony of the Hohenstaufen emperors to strengthen the power of the Church, summoned crusades, chartered the University of Paris, gave the world the Franciscan Order, and called the greatest ecumenical council of the Middle Ages. His very life and thought characterized the 13th century.

Author Joseph Clayton attempts to paint the picture of the times and the man in a very easy to read yet thorough narrative, succinctly relating the issues of the day and Innocent’s importance in them.

This work is a reprint, not a facsimile, and has been re-typset to adhere closely to the original, with many of the beautiful layout effects that you have come to expect from Mediatrix Press.