Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Rosary of friar Romeo of Livia

Gerard K. Brady [1] writes:
Another controversy [...] centres around the period of Dominic's missionary activities in the Languedoc. This concerns the belief that he was the founder of the rosary after the form in which it is now so popularly practised by the faithful everywhere. Local tradition affirms that the commission to preach in this form of prayer was given him by the Mother of God herself in a vision and declares that the sanctuary of Notre Dame de Dreche, near Albi, was the scene of this remarkable supernatural manifestation.
After the dispersal [from Prouille, on the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, 15 August 1217] Dominic repaired to Toulouse. In the autumn, he clothed in the habit of the Order four new followers, Arnold of Toulouse, Romeo of Livia, Poncio of Samatan and Raymond of Mirapont who succeeded Fulk thirteen years later in the Episcopal See of Toulouse. He remained at St Romain for some time to attend to the training of these novices [...]
Jean Guiraud [2] continues:
At Prouille, he [St Dominic] decided on the creation of the convent of the Preachers of Lyons. In the early days of December 1218 he sent to that town two friars: Arnold of Toulouse, whose trust in God was as inexhaustible as his zeal; and Romeo of Livia, "a religious of simple habits, humble bearing, gracious demeanour, of honied speech, and full of love to his neighbour".
H. J. Warner [3] goes on to explain that
[Pope] Honorius III (February 11, 1218), addressed a letter of commendation to all archbishops, bishops, etc., on behalf of the Order of Preaching Friars. Probably to this commendation we owe the founding of the Convent of Lyons in 1218 by two friars, Arnauld of Toulouse and Romeo of Livia, of whom Arnauld acted as Prior, and was succeeded by Romeo in 1223.
And in a footnote below:
Romeo became fifth Prior of Provence, of which he was a native and died at Carcassonne, 1261.
Gerard K. Brady again:
Positive evidence to support the Dominican tradition [concerning the origin of the Rosary] is brought from the pages of the thirteenth-century chronicler, Bernard Gui, who connects the name of the friar, Romeo of Livia, one of those who had been trained in the religious life at Toulouse by Dominic himself, with a form of devotion which is instantly recognizable as something very close to the rosary. This friar, relates Bernard, being seized with an illness at Carcassonne, 'meditating on the Child Jesus and the Lady Mary, His Mother, and exhorting his brethren to a like devotion, fell asleep in the Lord, grasping tightly in his hands the knotted cord on which he was wont to count daily a thousand Aves'.
Or in Latin (Brady gives the source as Monumenta Historica Ordinis Praedicatorum, Vol XXII, Rome 1953, p. 161):
Puerum Jesum et Dominam Mariam matrem ejus ruminans et fratribus inculcans, obdormivit in Domino, chordulam cum nodulis quibus mille Ave Maria solebat in die, firmiter manutenens.
Brady concludes:
If, as it appears reasonable to assume, he had been accustomed during his lifetime to combine this meditation and recitation, we may identify at once in the unmistakable elements of vocal and mental prayer that twofold combination which is the dominant characteristic of the rosary as known today. This early apostle of the rosary, of whom Bernard writes that 'he glowed with the fervour of his devotion to the Virgin Mother of God', died in 1261 after a life of exemplary sanctity during which he held several important offices of the Order in the south of France.

[1] Saint Dominic : Pilgrim of Light / by Gerard K. Brady. - London : Burns & Oates, 1957

[2] Saint Dominic / by Jean Guiraud ; translated by Katharine de Mattos. - New York : Benziger Brothers, 1913

[3] The Albigensian Heresy / H. J. Warner. - (seems to be a reprint of a 1928 edition)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Updated: A Dominican twibe

Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that enables its users to send and read messages known as tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the author's profile page and delivered to the author's subscribers who are known as followers. (See the full Wikipedia article)

Lay Dominican twitter users may want to join the LayDominicans twibe (twitter group). Tweets broadcasted from members of the twibe, containing at least one of the tags Dominic or Dominican or #op will be shown on the common twibe page - which is public and can be looked up by anyone.

How does this look? At the center of attention stands a simple list of tweets like this (notice the twibe tags in bold - that would be the tweets picked up by the LayDominicans twibe):
# Communion in the hand? Several articles, excerpts and links (from Semper Fidelis)

# The Promises and Charisms of Lay Cistercians (from The Website of Unknowing)

# Please indulge me (from The Practicing Catholic)

# Manual of the Brothers and Sisters of the Third Order of Penance of St. Dominic, 1852 (from Dominican Idaho)

# Apostolic activity comes out of an abundance of contemplation (from @disputations) #op
The list is updated every couple of minutes by all new tweets written by the Twitter users that one is following.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Lay Dominican blogs

'But where is the blogroll?' you may well have wondered.

Well, it IS here somewhere, actually: at the bottom of the sidebar on the right, under Contributors. If you look up Zdislavus' complete profile, all the Blogs I Follow are Lay Dominican blogs. Lay Dominicans blogging about life, the universe and everything Christian - in any language. If you know of any others, please tell me about them, just leave a comment to this post. Or send a twitter message to @Zdislavus.

Friday, August 7, 2009

8 August : Solemnity of St. Dominic : 'Speak, friend, and enter'

While staying with the nuns in Prouille, that wonderful place, fr. Simon Tugwell O.P. wrote a poem about Saint Dominic, Homage to a Saint, which he included in The Way of the Preacher. I am particularly struck by these lines:
He founded an Order, they say.
Say rather: friended.
He was their friend, and so
at last, in spite of themselves, they came.
He gave them an Order to found.
Reminding me of some passages written by another former Oxford resident, J. R. R. Tolkien, in The Fellowship of the Ring. The company stands before the Gates of Moria and trying to figure out how to enter:
'What does it mean by speak, friend, and enter?' asked Merry.

'That is plain enough,' said Gimli. 'If you are a friend, speak the password, and the doors will open, and you can enter.'
The password isn't really secret at all, as Gandalf finally realizes:
With suddenness that startled them all the wizard sprang to his feet. He was laughing! 'I have it' he cried. 'Of course, of course! Absurdly simple, like most riddles when you see the answer.'

Picking up his staff he stood before the rock and said in a clear voice : Mellon!
The doorway opens slowly and silently, and the secret is explained to the Fellowship:
'I was wrong after all,' said Gandalf, 'and Gimli too. Merry, of all people, was on the right track. The opening word was inscribed on the archway all the time! The translation should have been : Say "Friend" and enter. I had only to speak the Elvish word for friend and the doors opened. Quite simple. Too simple for a learned lore-master in these suspicious days. Those were happier times. Now let us go!'
Saying 'friend' is a sure way to get through to the heart of the other, perhaps just opening the doors a little, but still. I'm still remembering something that happened to me sitting on a bus in central London, twenty years ago. Tired and alone in a strange city, I must have appeared a bit lost as I was slow to discover that I had come to the end stop. The bus-driver, a black man, went over to me and said, 'Are you all right, friend?'

My friend Pedro (or Martin - his 'name in the Order') would say that this man might have been an appearance of Saint Martin de Porres, except that I think that the friendly man was in fact the bus-driver and didn't appear from nowhere to save my life. But still, this man touched me deeply just by addressing me as friend.

So, yes, I can imagine Saint Dominic friending an Order; he would indeed Say 'Friend' to people and they would come in spite of themselves (whatever fr. Tugwell means by this, this particular point is not mentioned in his Notes on the Poem).

It used to be simple to join St. Dominic's crowd - the Order of Preachers. You knelt down before Saint Dominic and placed your hands between the hands of the Master General in a feudal gesture. No postulancy, no novitiate, no temporary profession - just receiving the black and white habit from the hands of the Master to wear it for the rest of your life. Imagine! Just by being friended.

Of course, by joining the Order you suddenly become a member of the Dominican Family, adopted as it were, putting you in a rather different position than a 'Friend of the Order'. All sorts of things suddenly being overwhelmingly expected of you - or frustratingly nothing, as the case may be. It's the sort of thing that may need figuring out. Like a riddle. There is no secret password, but you have to mean it.