Posted by: fvbcdm | August 5, 2012

Commemoration of Blessed Jane of Aza (2 August 2012)

Next Wednesday, we Dominicans throughout the world will celebrate the feast of our father and founder, Saint Dominic de Guzman.  And in preparation for that celebration, we have today the liturgical commemoration of his mother, Blessed Jane of Aza.  She and her husband, Felix, were an unusually devout couple.  They had four children.  The three boys all became priests, and the girl had two sons, both of whom also became priests.  Our Saint Dominic was the last of Blessed Jane’s four children.  After having borne three children, she hoped for at least one more.  She went to the Benedictine abbey of Saint Dominic of Silos, which is still functioning in central Spain, and prayed there for another child.  According to the old tradition, she dreamed that she would give birth to a black and white dog carrying a burning torch in its mouth, running around the world barking loudly and setting the whole world on fire.  This tradition is full of symbolism.  The Latin word for “dog” is “canis.”  And when you put together the two Latin words “Domini canes” meaning “the dogs of the Lord,” you get “Dominicans,” the name by which Blessed Jane’s son’s followers have been known during the eight centuries of our existence. The dog in Blessed Jane’s dream was black and white, as are the colors of our religious habit.  The purpose of our Order is to preach to the world. As dogs bark, so do preachers preach.  As torches set fire to inflammable objects, so do those who tell the world of God’s love ignite the love of that same God in their hearers.  This is why we so often see a representation of a dog and torch in our images of Saint Dominic.


I was ordained to the priesthood on Monday, April 15, 1963.  The following day, I was able to celebrate Mass in the presence of my mother who had come to Dubuque, Iowa together with most of the parents of my classmates for our ordination.  I was very conscious of the role of Blessed Jane, the mother of Saint Dominic, in my ordination and in the joy of my mother at that beautiful event.  My mother died in 1993  at the age of ninety-nine.  I hope that she is safely in heaven and that she and Blessed Jane can keep festival together as they celebrate their motherhood within this Dominican family of ours. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.


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