Posted by: fvbcdm | October 5, 2011

Commemoration of Blessed Raymond of Capua (5 Oct 2011)

During my sabbatical in Rome, I went to spend a week in the city of Naples south of Rome since there are so many connections with our Order there. I stayed in the priory of San Domenico Maggiore, the oldest Dominican house right in the heart of the crowded and tumultuous city. It’s an interesting place indeed. The guest room which I occupied during that week was on the same hall as the room occupied by our great Saint Thomas Aquinas during his time of teaching there. And because during our own formation, we were taught to regard him so highly, I felt overwhelmed by the nearness of his room to mine. I could walk three or four doors down the hall to make little visits to that room, now a chapel, whenever I wished. I hoped that some of the brilliance and holiness of the man would still cling to the walls of that room and I might ingest some of it as we can ingest the sweet odors of bread baking in an oven, or newly-mown grass in a field.
I speak of this today because we Dominicans celebrate on October 5th the commemoration of our confrere Blessed Raymond of Capua, who was the confessor of Saint Catherine of Siena and one of the Masters General or highest superiors of our Order. He is buried under the main altar of the church there in San Domenico Maggiore in Naples, so I could celebrate Mass at his tomb. In a side chapel of that same church there is preserved a crucifix which, according to an ancient tradition, spoke to Saint Thomas Aquinas. One night, the sacristan went into that chapel and found Saint Thomas praying before that crucifix. Suddenly, the sacristan saw the figure of Christ on the cross seem to come to life and to say to the friar praying at his feet: “You have written well of me, Thomas. What reward would you like?” To which the saint replied, “Nothing, Lord, but yourself.”  He knew very well that by choosing Christ, he chose everything of any importance.
So as we celebrate Blessed Raymond of Capua today, we remember the building where he is buried, where Saint Thomas Aquinas lived during his last months of life, and where one can venerate the crucifix which spoke to Saint Thomas.  It is amazing that so many ancient buildings can be found in Europe, still in use, still in perfectly good condition. I don’t remember just when that priory in Naples was built, but Saint Thomas lived in that very building in 1273 and 1274. Can you imagine any buildings in this country still in use seven centuries after their construction? Thank you for seeking God’s truth.  God bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.


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