Posted by: fvbcdm | August 3, 2013

Commemoration of Blessed Jane of Aza (2 August 2013)

Today I would like to talk to you about some elements of sacred art which are called “attributes.”  They are depictions of certain things which are associated with a particular saint, so that when you see a picture or statue of a person with that attribute, you know that the representation is of Saint Peter, for example, or Saint Elizabeth, or another saint.

The most frequently used attribute concerning Saint Peter is a bunch of keys, since Our Lord said to him, “I give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” When we see a representation of a saint with an X-shaped cross, we know that it represents Saint Andrew, the brother of Saint Peter and one of the twelve apostles, since by tradition, he was crucified on a cross of that shape. A Carmelite nun holding a bouquet of roses is Saint Therese of Lisieux, who promised to “let roses fall from heaven” after her death.

I speak of this today because we Dominicans celebrate on August 2nd the commemoration of Blessed Jane of Aza, the mother of Saint Dominic, the founder of our Dominican family. According to an ancient tradition, when she was expecting his birth, she dreamed that she gave birth to a black and white dog, which emerged from her womb with a burning torch in its mouth. It ran about, setting the world on fire with its torch, and barking loudly to be heard by all. And the interpretation of this symbolism is that the child in her womb, who was Saint Dominic, would become a great preacher, proclaiming our holy faith to all the world, and who would found an order which wore a black and white habit, the traditional Dominican colors. So whenever you see a picture of a saint in which a black and white dog with a torch in its mouth is shown, you know that the saint is Dominic.

So much for symbolism; the facts of the matter are that this Blessed Jane of Aza had four children, three boys and a girl. The three boys all became priests, and the girl married and had two sons who followed their uncle Dominic into the Order of the Preaching Friars which he had founded. For a woman to have such a devout family certainly reflects on her; “by their fruits you shall know them,” as Our Lord tells us in the gospel.

Today, I would ask you to pray through the intercession of Blessed Jane for many priestly and religious vocations which are needed in the Church today, and I would also ask you to pray for your own mother, whether living or dead, who, I hope, had a powerful influence for good in your life and any other children she might have had. The old saying “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world” is true in both the sacred and the secular orders; Augustine had his mother Monica; Louis had his mother Blanche; and many other saints, blesseds, and holy men and women are indebted to the holiness and prudence of their mothers for their own spiritual success.

Today we celebrate Jane of Aza; next Thursday will be the feast day of her son Dominic, whose name we happily bear.  Thank you for seeking God´s truth. God bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  This message was composed some years ago.


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