The Legend of Saint Dominic, by Blessed Cecilia Cesarine

detail of a painting of Saint Dominic de Guzman by Fra Angelico, 1437; Perugia Altarpiece; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsThis Legend was dictated by Blessed Cecilia in her old age and is from a very ancient parchment kept in Saint Agnes’ monastery in Bologna for centuries and now in the public archives. The Introduction and Epilogue are by Sister Angelica of Bologna.

Introduction

The miracles here recorded, which our holy father Saint Dominic wrought in Rome, were narrated by Sr Cecilia of Rome, the same whom Pope Honorius, of blessed memory, sent with three other sisters of Saint Sixtus’ monastery to instruct the nuns of Saint Agnes’ monastery in Bologna, of the Order of Preachers, in the lifetime of our venerable father Master Jordan. She, moreover, took the habit from Saint Dominic’s own hands, and made her profession into his hands three several times, and she is still living in the flesh in the same convent, endowed with great marks of sanctity.

First of all how Saint Dominic Raised to Life a Widow’s Son from the Dead

A devout woman of Roman birth, Tetta by name, who dwelt in Saint Saviour’s parish, was very much devoted to Saint Dominic. She had but one son, and he still a child and dangerously ill. While Saint Dominic was one day preaching in Saint Mark’s church in Rome, this woman, in her eagerness to hear the word of God from his lips, left her sick boy at home and went to the church where the saint was preaching. On her return after the sermon she found the child dead. Stricken to the very heart with silent grief, and putting all her trust in God’s power and Saint Dominic’s merits, she took up her dead son in her arms and carried him to Saint Sixtus, where the saint was then staying with the brethren. Now, whereas the house was being got ready for the sisters, anyone who chose could walk in, the workmen being still all about the place, so she walked straight in and found him standing at the door of the chapter-house, as if waiting on purpose. Seeing him, she laid her son down at his feet, and then going on her knees entreated him to give her back her child. Then Saint Dominic, touched by her great grief, withdrew a short distance and prayed for a few minutes. After his prayer he rose, and going over to the boy made the sign of the cross over him, then taking him by the hand he raised him up alive and well and gave him back sound to his mother, forbidding her to say a word about it to anyone.

Straightway she went home with her boy in great glee, and spread the news of what had befallen her touching the child, so that it came to the ears of the Sovereign Pontiff who wanted to mention it in a public sermon before all the people, but the true lover and guardian of humility — Saint Dominic — would not allow it, declaring that if it were done he would not tarry a day longer in that country, but would cross the sea to the Saracens. Fearing such a step the Pope forbore to publish it. But the Lord who had said in his gospel that ‘ he who humbleth himself shall be exalted,’ and who himself magnifies and exalts his servants against their own will and desire, so stirred up the piety of the people and nobles to reverence Saint Dominic from that time, that they followed him about everywhere as if he had been an angel from God, and every man deemed himself happy if he could only touch him, or get a piece of his habit for a relic. They kept cutting his cloak and capuce so that his habit hardly stretched to his knees. When the brethren forbade the people to meddle with his garments, the holy father was touched at their devotion, and said: ‘Let them do what they please, and give vent to their feelings.’ There were present at this great miracle, Brother Tancred, Brother Otto, Brother Henry, Brother Gregory, Brother Albert, and many more, who, at a later period, told all these particulars to Sister Cecilia, who was at that time in Saint Mary’s monastery beyond the Tiber, together with other nuns.

How Saint Dominic Raised from the Dead the Nephew of the Lord Cardinal Stephen

Pope Honorius, of happy memory, charged Saint Dominic to gather in one enclosure all the nuns who were lying scattered all over the city, and then, after he had constructed a monastery for them at Saint Sixtus, to make them continue in common life. Saint Dominic, however, asked the Pope to name other fitting helpers for carrying out so hard an under taking: accordingly the Pope gave him for helpmates the Cardinal Ugolino, bishop of Ostia, who became Pope later on, Stephen of Fossa-Nuova, Cardinal by the title of the Twelve Apostles, and Nicholas, Cardinal and bishop of Tusculum, and bade them stand by him should he need their aid. Now when all the other nuns would obey neither the Pope nor Saint Dominic in this matter, the abbess of Saint Mary’s across the Tiber, and all her nuns, with only one exception, offered themselves and their property with all the revenues of their monastery to Saint Dominic. Then Saint Dominic and the three Cardinals associated with him gave orders that on the first Wednesday in Lent, after the imposition of ashes, they should all meet at Saint Sixtus for the said abbess to resign her office before them and all the nuns, and make over to him and his companions all rights over the monastery. While Saint Dominic was sitting with the three Cardinals, and the said abbess and her nuns were standing by, lo, a man came in tearing his hair and shouting aloud: ‘Alas, alas!’ When those present asked what was amiss, he rejoined: ‘The Lord Cardinal Stephen’s nephew has fallen from his horse and is dead.’ The young man’s name was Napoleon, and at the news his uncle swooned away in Saint Dominic’s arms. The others held him up and Saint Dominic sprinkled him with holy water. Then, leaving him, he went out to where the dead man lay, horribly crushed and mangled, and bade them carry him into a house outside the enclosure and shut him up therein. Next he told Brother Tancred and the others he had brought with him to prepare the altar for him to say mass. Now there were standing in that place Saint Dominic and the Cardinals with their followers, and the abbess with her nuns, for the Cardinals and Saint Dominic held her in great reverence for her sanctity. Then Saint Dominic said Mass with abundance of tears. On coming to the elevation of the Lord’s Body, holding it uplifted in his hands, as he generally did, Saint Dominic was seen to be raised a span from the ground. All who were present witnessed it, and were lost in wonderment at the sight. When the mass was finished he went back to the corpse, and with him went the Cardinals and their company, the abbess and her nuns, and on coming to the body he with his own most holy hands laid out the crushed and mangled limbs, from the head down to the feet: then he knelt down and wept much while he prayed by the bier. Thrice he composed the lacerated head and limbs, praying the while, then he got up and made the sign of the cross over the body, and standing at the dead man’s head, his hands upraised to heaven, and himself uplifted by divine power above a span from the ground, he called aloud: ‘O young man, Napoleon, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ I bid thee arise!’ And instantly, in the sight of all those who had crowded in to see what marvel would happen, the young man rose up sound and well, and said to Saint Dominic: ‘Father, give me something to eat.’ Then Saint Dominic gave him both meat and drink, and restored him to his uncle hale and happy, and without a trace of his injuries; now he had lain dead from early morning till nine of the clock. Sister Cecilia narrated this wondrous miracle just as it is herein set down, for she was present all the while, and saw everything with her own eyes and heard all with her own ears.

How Bread and Wine were Supplied and Multiplied from Heaven at His Prayer

When the brethren were still at Saint Sixtus, and numbered one hundred, Saint Dominic on a certain day told Brother John of Calabria and Brother Albert of Rome to go and beg alms in the city. After they had been begging from early morning to three in the afternoon without obtaining anything, they returned home empty-handed. But as they passed the church of Saint Anastasia, a woman met them who had a great devotion for the Order, and seeing that they had procured no alms she gave them a loaf of bread, saying: ‘I won’t have you go home empty-handed.’ They took the loaf and were journeying homewards, when lo, a youth of comely mien and dressed in white joined them and asked for an alms. They began to excuse themselves by saying they could not afford to give him anything as they had not enough for themselves. But as he pleaded yet more urgently they said each to the other: ‘What are we to do with only one loaf? let us bestow it on him for the love of God”; so they gave him the loaf, and directly after he disappeared, nor could they discover whither he had gone. On their return home our holy father met them, and knowing all that had passed, by a special revelation of the Holy Ghost, he said to them, with a beaming face: ‘My sons, have you nothing at all?’ But they answered: ‘Truly we have nothing, father:’ They then rehearsed what had befallen them, and told him all about the poor man on whom they had bestowed the loaf. To this he replied: ‘It was an angel of God; but the Lord will feed his servants: let us betake ourselves to prayer.’ He went to the church, and after a short space came out and bade them call together the community for dinner. Upon this they answered him: ‘But, holy father, why do you wish to bring them here since we have nothing to set before them.’ Yet as he foreknew what would happen, he simply said: ‘The Lord will feed his servants.’ Now as they tarried in doing as he bid them, he called Brother Roger the cellarer and told him to call the brethren to table, as the Lord would provide for his servants. The tables were at last spread and the cups set in order, the signal was given and they entered the refectory. When the brethren were seated our holy father blessed the table, and Brother Henry of Rome began the reading as is the custom during dinner. But Saint Dominic joined his hands and began to pray over the table, and lo, as he had promised by the promptings of the Holy Ghost, there suddenly appeared, by God’s providence, two very handsome youths in the middle of the refectory, carrying upon their shoulders two clean linen cloths filled with white loaves. Then, starting with the lowest one on the right side and the other on the left, they set a whole loaf of rare beauty before each of the brethren. When they came to Saint Dominic they in like manner set a whole loaf before him, and then, bowing their heads, they disappeared, and to this day no one knows whence they came or whither they went.

Then Saint Dominic said: ‘My sons, eat the bread which the Lord has sent us.’ He then bade the servers pour out wine for the brethren, but they replied: ‘Holy father, we have none.’ Then full of the spirit of prophecy he said to them: ‘Go to the cask and give the brethren the wine to drink which our Lord has sent them.’ So they went as he had bidden them, and found the cask brimful of the best wine, and drawing a measure they carried it to the brethren. Upon this Saint Dominic said to them: ‘My brothers, drink the wine which the Lord hath sent us.’ They ate and drank as much as they pleased that day, and the next day, and again a third day. After dinner then he had all that was left of the bread and wine given to the poor, and would not suffer any of it to be kept in the house. He did not send them out for alms during those three days, since the Lord had abundantly provided them with bread and wine from heaven. After this the holy father made to them a beautiful sermon, and warned them never to distrust God’s providence even in time of want. Brother Tancred, the prior of the brethren, Brother Odo of Rome, Brother Henry of the same place, Brother Laurence from England, Brother Gaude, Brother John of Rome, and many more were present and told this striking miracle to Sister Cecilia and the other nuns, at the time she was yet staying in Saint Mary’s monastery beyond the Tiber. They gave the sisters some of the bread and wine which they preserved for many years as relics. Now the Brother Albert, whom Saint Dominic sent out to beg for alms with a companion, was one of the two whose happy death Saint Dominic foresaw in Rome. The other was Brother Gregory, a man of great beauty and perfect grace. Brother Gregory departed first to the Lord after devoutly receiving the sacraments. Three days later Brother Albert also received the sacraments very devoutly, and sped from this dark prison to the heavenly palace.

How the Devil Appeared to Saint Dominic in the Shape of an Ape

It came to pass, when the brethren were yet staying at Saint Sixtus, our holy father was one night watching in prayer, and leaving the church about midnight he sat down to write by candle-light at the entrance of the dormitory. And lo, the devil appeared before him in the shape of an ape, and began to dance up and down before him, while he recited some amusing verses, and kept on grimacing the while Saint Dominic motioned for him to bide still, and taking the lighted candle, gave it him to hold by his side. So he took the candle and stood before Saint Dominic, still making grimaces and reciting his ludicrous rhymes. Meanwhile the candle burnt down and the ape’s paws began to be burnt, which made him wriggle about and howl from pain, just as anyone might dread real fire if he were being burnt in the eternal flames of hell. Again Saint Dominic cautioned him to bide quiet. What need to say more! he stood holding the candle while his entire forefinger was burnt down to where it joins the hand, while the ape howled and writhed all the more. Then Saint Dominic caught up the stick he always carried about with him, and beat him soundly, then he cried: ‘Begone wretch.’ The beating sounded like striking an inflated bladder. Leaping at a bound to the opposite wall the ape never came back, while the stench of his presence showed beyond doubt who he really was. Saint Dominic told this miracle to all the brothers and sisters in Sister Cecilia’s hearing, and she watched him imitating the ape’s antics.

How He Rid a Woman of Seven Devils

After the Sisters had taken up their residence by the church of Saint Sixtus, the same holy father fixed the second Sunday in Lent — which is the Sunday on which the gospel about the Chananean woman is read — for a sermon in that church. A great crowd of men and women met together on the occasion, while Saint Dominic took his stand by the grating so that the Sisters could both hear and see him while he preached God’s word with unction. And behold there was present a woman full of devils, who said that she had seven within her, and who began to disturb his preaching by shouting aloud: ‘Knave and fool, thou hast already robbed me of four persons who were mine, thou hast robbed me of my own’: and she kept on repeating the word ‘knave’ over and over again. Now when the folk murmured at her interrupting the sermon, Saint Dominic called to her a couple of times: ‘Hush! hold your tongue!’ Then the devils answered through her mouth: ‘Thou shalt not turn us out, for she is ours, and we refuse to leave her’: whereupon they began telling, with several voices at a time, how they came to enter into her. As the confusion only grew worse from her disturbance, Saint Dominic lifted up his hand and made the sign of the cross over her, saying:’ In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ I command you to go out of her, and not to torment her any longer.’ Instantly she began to vomit up a quantity of coals, and so much blood that she lay like a corpse. Then Saint Dominic had her carried out to a house close by, and gave orders for her to be cared for until she got well, and he gave her the name of Amata, or Beloved.

A long while after this, when Sister Cecilia and her companions came to Saint Agnes’ Convent, in Bologna, by command of our lord the Pope, this woman called upon them when on her way to the shrine of Saint James the Apostle, being quite well and in sound health at the time, and she conversed with them pleasantly. Saint Dominic wrought this miracle in a public sermon by the grille in Saint Sixtus’ church, before Sister Cecilia and the other sisters, who all saw him standing by the grille, and with great trepidation listened to him while he commanded the devils to go out from her.

How the Wine was Increased, and an Angel Became His Guide, and how He Freed a Novice from Temptation

It was our holy father’s custom to spend the whole day in gaining souls, either by constant preaching or in hearing confessions, or in other works of laborious charity. In the evening time he used to come to the sisters, and give them a conference in his brethren’s presence, and he used to instruct them in the duties of the Order, for they had no other master but himself. One evening he came somewhat later than usual. The sisters, after waiting a space for him, finished their prayers and retired to the dormitory, when lo, suddenly the brethren rang the bell, which was the signal for summoning the sisters when our holy father came to them. On hearing it they all hurried to the church, and on opening the grille found him already seated there among his brethren awaiting them. Then Saint Dominic addressed these words to them: ‘My daughters, I am come from fishing, and our Lord has sent me a big fish.’ He alluded hereby to Brother Gaude, the only son of Master Alexander, a wealthy Roman, whom the venerable father had taken into the Order. After this he gave them a long instruction which filled them with unspeakable comfort. When it was over he said: ‘Daughters, it is good for us to have something to drink.’ So he called Brother Roger the cellarer and told him to fetch some wine and a cup. When the brother brought what was asked for, Saint Dominic bade him fill the cup to the brim, he then blessed it and drank of it first himself, and then all the brethren present, to the number of twenty-five, counting clerics and lay-brothers. They all drank as much as they wished while the cup was in no wise changed, but still continued full. After the brothers had drunk, Saint Dominic said: ‘I would have all my daughters to drink as well.’ He then called Sister Nubia, and said to her: ‘Go to the turn and take the cup, and let all the sisters drink.’ She went with a companion and fetched the cup which was still brimful, and although full to the very top, not a drop was spilled. The sisters all drank of it accordingly, first of all the prioress, then all the rest, and just as much as they pleased, while our holy father kept encouraging them by saying: ‘Drink your fill my daughters.’ There were in all one hundred and four sisters, who drank out of the cup just as much as they pleased, yet it remained as full as ever, as if the wine had been pouring in all the time. He then gave orders for the cup to be handed out, and it was given up quite as full as when it was passed in, but what became of the cup and its contents is not known at the present day. When this was over, Saint Dominic said: ‘The Lord wills me to go to Santa Sabina.’ Then Brother Tancred, the prior of the brethren, and Brother Odo, the prior of the sisters, and the rest of the brethren, the abbess and sisters, all wanted to keep him, saying: ‘Holy father, the hour is late, for it is close on midnight, and it is not right for you to go away now.’ But he would not yield to them. ‘The Lord of all wants me to set out,’ said he, ‘and he will send his angel with us.’ As they could not keep him he took Brother Tancred and Brother Odo, the priors of the brothers and sisters, and started off with them. According to his promise, when Saint Dominic came to the gate of the church on going out, a very handsome youth was standing there with a staff in his hand, as if prepared for a journey. Then Saint Dominic sent his brethren on after the young man, while he himself walked behind in the third place. On arriving at the church gate they found it carefully shut and fastened with bolts. But the youth, who had gone on before them on the road, drew one half of the door towards himself and at once it opened before them, and the youth walked in first, then the brethren, and after them all Saint Dominic likewise entered. When all were inside, the young man went out and the door closed just as they found it before. Then Brother Tancred put this question to Saint Dominic: ‘Holy father, who was that youth who bore us company?’ He made answer: ‘Son, it was his angel whom the Lord appointed to watch over us.’ At the signal for matins the brethren came into the choir, and seeing Saint Dominic and his companions in the choir among the brethren, they marvelled how they could have entered through the closed door.

There was a young novice in that convent named James, a native of Rome, who, being strongly tempted, resolved to leave the Order directly the church doors were opened after matins. This being revealed to Saint Dominic, he was beforehand with him, and sending for him after matins took him on one side. After speaking kindly to him, he begged and warned him not to let himself be hoodwinked by the devil’s cunning in quitting such a holy brotherhood in this way, but rather to remain true to Christ’s service. The youth, however, paid no heed to his warnings and entreaties, but stood up and pulled off the habit, declaring that he had made up his mind to leave the Order. Then the most holy father, compassionating his violent temptation, said to him: ‘My child, wait a little, and then do as you have a mind.’ At this Saint Dominic also rose and prostrated himself in prayer, and it soon appeared how profitable it was in God’s sight, and how easy it was for him to get what he wanted. No sooner had he ended his prayer than suddenly the temptation passed away, the brother threw himself at his feet in floods of tears, entreated forgiveness, and begged him to let him have the habit once more, which in a moment of sore temptation he had thrown off, promising never more to abandon the Order, Then the venerable father, after a few words, clothed him again with the habit of the Order, and cautioned him never for the future to give way to temptation, but to remain ever steadfast in Christ’s service: and by his intercessor’s merits he afterwards spent a long and praiseworthy life in the Order.

Next morning Saint Dominic returned to Saint Sixtus with his companions, and in his presence the brethren already named told Sister Cecilia and the other sisters all that had befallen them. Saint Dominic also vouched for the truth of the entire story as told by his brethren, and added: ‘God’s enemy wanted to have one of Christ’s lambs, but the Lord rescued him from out of his hands.’

How the Blessed Virgin Appeared to Him While at Prayer, and Showed Him the Care She takes of the Order

Once when Saint Dominic was passing the night in the church in prayer, about midnight he went out and entered the dormitory. After looking at his brethren he resumed his prayer at the entrance of the dormitory. While standing erect as he prayed, he chanced to glance to the other end of the dormitory and saw three very comely ladies advancing towards him, of whom the central figure seemed to be a lady more dignified and of higher rank than the . others. One of the two attendants carried a beautiful and resplendent vessel of holy water, and the other a sprinkler, which she presented to the third who walked between them. This one sprinkled the brethren and blessed them, but as she passed along doing so there was one friar whom she neither blessed nor sprinkled. Saint Dominic observed this attentively, and noting whom it was, followed the lady as far as the lamp which hung in the middle of the dormitory: there he threw himself at her feet and began earnestly to beg her to say who she was, although he knew very well all the while. Now at that time the beautiful and devout anthem, the Salve Regina, was not sung in the convents of our brethren and sisters in Rome, but merely said kneeling. Then the lady addressed Saint Dominic and said: ‘I am she whom you greet every evening, and when you say “Turn then our Advocate,” I prostrate myself before my Son for the preservation of this Order.’ Saint Dominic then enquired who her companions might be, whereunto she made answer: ‘One of them is Cecilia and the other Catherine.’ Upon this Saint Dominic made further enquiry touching the brother whom she had passed by, and why she had neither sprinkled nor blest him with the rest: at this she answered: ‘Simply because he was unworthy of it.’ Then she resumed sprinkling and blessing the remaining friars, and went away.

Saint Dominic returned to his prayers, and was caught up in spirit from where he was standing to the throne of God, and there he beheld our Lord, and the Blessed Virgin sitting on his right hand, whilst she appeared to our holy father to be wearing a mantle of deep blue colour. As lie gazed round he saw religious men of every Order in the Church standing in God’s presence, but not one of his own family, so he began to weep bitterly and would not presume to come near our Lord and leis holy mother. Thereupon she made a sign with her hand for him to draw nigh, but still he did not dare to do so until our Lord also beckoned to him; then he came up and threw himself down before them, weeping as if his heart would break. Then Christ bade him arise, and asked him gently: ‘Why weepest thou thus sorrowfully?’ ‘I am grieving,’ said Saint Dominic, ‘because I see here members of every religious Order, but of my own not one.’ Then our Lord said: ‘And would you see your Order?’ To this the saint answered trembling: ‘Yes, Lord, of a surety I would.’ Placing his hand lovingly on the Blessed Virgin’s shoulder, Christ replied: ‘I have given over your Order to my mother’s care.’ At this the Blessed Virgin drew back her mantle, and opening it wide before Saint Dominic, it seemed to enclose nearly the whole of that heavenly country, so vast was it, and beneath it he saw a great host of his brethren. Casting himself down, Saint Dominic returned right hearty thanks to Christ and his holy mother; soon the vision passed away, and once again regaining his natural consciousness he rang the bell for matins. When the morning office was over he summoned the brethren to the chapter-house, and there spoke to them with burning words, exhorting them to love and reverence ever the blessed Virgin, and amongst the rest he told them of his vision. When the chapter was over he called aside the friar whom our blessed Lady had neither sprinkled nor blessed, and tried by gentle speech to discover whether there was not some secret sin which he had not confessed, for the brother had made a general confession to Saint Dominic. The brother made this reply: ‘Holy father, I have nothing to reproach myself with in conscience except this, that on that night I retired to rest without being dressed according to rule.’

Saint Dominic recounted this vision to Sister Cecilia and the other sisters of Saint Sixtus, yet as if it had befallen someone else, but the brethren present then, who had heard him relate it before, gave the sisters to understand that the person was none other than himself. It was on this account that Saint Dominic made it a rule that all his brethren should sleep in tunic and girdle wherever they might be.

How the Devil Appeared Under the Shape of a Lizard, and Tried to Hinder His Preaching

On a time, after saying Mass, Saint Dominic went up to the grille and commanded the sisters to assemble by the water course near the mill, there to hear the word of God. Knowing well what was about to happen, he warned them thus: ‘My daughters, fear not if the enemy of mankind should try to affright you by appearing in some hideous shape.’ On their side, much did they wonder that he should choose so strange a place for the sermon. Now as the mill was under repair he entered the enclosure of the sisters, and some of his brethren with him, and they came to the place where the sisters were waiting. They all sat down by the water course, and Saint Dominic began to preach with much vehemence on the crafty snares of the enemy. While he was yet speaking, Satan suddenly appeared in the horrible form of a monstrous lizard, black as night, and with two heads and tails. In this form he began to run up and down by the side of the water, raising his heads and tails and then letting them fall in a threatening way, as if about to attack them. Saint Dominic, well knowing by the Holy Spirit who it was thus hiding himself under the form of a huge lizard, fixed his eyes on him, and shaking his head in a menacing way, cried aloud: ‘I know thee, my enemy.’ Then turning to the sisters, he said: ‘Fear nothing, he is powerless to hurt you.’ But as some of the sisters were turning to fly away affrighted, he again called aloud: ‘Enemy of mankind, I command thee to cast thyself into the water!’ The reptile obeyed at once, and appeared no more. Sister Cecilia and the rest of the sisters at Saint Sixtus’ were all present at this miracle, together with several of our brethren.

How Saint Dominic Healed Three Nuns of Fever

One day Saint Dominic appeared quite unexpectedly at the grille, and calling Sister Constantia, the portress, enquired how Sister Theodore, Sister Thedrana, and Sister Nympha were in health. She replied that they were all laid up with fever, and that Sister Theodora was even in high fever. Upon hearing this, Saint Dominic said: ‘Go and tell them from me that I bid them have fever no longer.’ This was all the more wonderful, for no one had informed him that those sisters were ailing, but he knew it by the Spirit of God. The portress accordingly went to deliver the message, while Saint Dominic tarried at the grille. She commanded them in his name to cease from having fever, and instantly they rose up cured, and went through the convent to the amazement of the rest who witnessed the marvel. The sister went back to Saint Dominic and told him of what had happened: without more ado he simply thanked God, and retired from the grille.

How the Devil Upset the Lamp Without Spilling it, During His Sermon

At one time on his return journey from Spain, Saint Dominic carried by way of a small present some wooden spoons, one for each of the sisters. One day, after preaching and other deeds of charity, he came when it was late to the sisters, and carried the spoons with him he had brought them from Spain. As they were sitting together behind the grille, and his brethren were likewise seated beside him, he began to preach to them once more about the wiles of the enemy, showing how Satan, for the sake of deceiving souls, trans forms himself not merely into an angel of light, but assumes the shapes of the vilest creatures to hinder preaching and other good works, sometimes even taking the shape of a common sparrow. The venerable father had scarcely said the word ere the enemy of mankind came on the scene in the shape of a sparrow, and began to fly through the air, and hopping even on the sisters’ heads, so that they could have handled him had they been so minded, and all this to hinder the preaching. Saint Dominic observing this, called Sister Maximilla, and said: ‘Get up and catch him, and fetch him here to me.’ She got up and, putting out her hand, had no difficulty in seizing hold of him, and handed him out through the window to Saint Dominic. Saint Dominic held him fast in one hand and commenced plucking off the feathers with the other, saying the while: ‘You wretch, you rogue!’ When he had plucked him clean of all his feathers amid much laughter from the brothers and sisters, and awful shrieks of the sparrow, he pitched him out, saying: ‘Fly now if you can, enemy of mankind! you can cry out and trouble us, but you can’t hurt us!’ The sparrow hopped once more through the window into the church, while All the sisters sat down to hear the sermon, then climbing up to the brass vessel, suspended by chains, which held the oil lamp, he broke the chains with a strong wrench and overturned the vessel. The lamp fell out, but not only was it not damaged or extinguished, but went on burning upside down. The sisters all looked up at the crash of the upset, and saw the lamp standing without any support in mid-air. And so it fell out as Saint Dominic had foretold, for although the lamp continued upturned not one drop of oil was spilled. Neither was the lamp put out, nor was the bran, put under the lamp for safety’s sake, shaken out, but everything remained untouched as if it had stood unshaken in its right place. When Saint Dominic and his brethren saw this they returned thanks to God. He then ordered Sister Sabina-the same whom he had named Sacristan when he appointed all the officials in Saint Sixtus’- to put the lamp in its right place, and she did so. And so it came about that he employed for God’s glory what the enemy of mankind had from envy done for their hurt and hindrance. The sparrow which flew in that night disappeared, and no one saw whither he went. As it was late while Saint Dominic was preaching the sisters lit the large lamps in the enclosure and the brothers lit those without, so that all could easily see what was going on in the church. Saint Dominic wrought this laughter-stirring miracle by the window in Saint Sixtus’ church, in the presence of Sister Cecilia, who saw and heard all that had been said, and of the other sisters of Saint Sixtus who were also present.

How He Cured a Solitary of a Loathsome Disease by His Merits

There was in Rome a recluse, Bona by name, a woman of great holiness and piety, who dwelt in a tower hard by the Lateran Gate, who was tended to by another woman called Jacobina. Saint Dominic used often to visit her, for he had a high opinion of her sanctity, and he would hear her confession and bring her holy communion. This holy solitary was stricken with a foul disease, so that countless worms used to creep out constantly from her breast, but if any fell to the ground she would put them back again. One day St. Dominic visited her, and after giving her the holy communion he sat down to converse with her through the little window, and asked her to let him see the diseased part. She opened her dress and showed him her breast all covered with creeping worms. Then the gentle father, beholding her malady, compassionated her and said: ‘Give me one of those worms as a present I shall value.’ But she would only let him have one on condition that he gave it back to her again; so she accepted his promise, and picking up a worm handed it through the window. Saint Dominic received it into his open palm, and on touching it with his finger it turned into a most lovely precious stone. When his companions saw this they begged of him not to give it back to her, but she began to cry out, and entreated him to give her the precious stone which was hers. She got it again and put it upon her breast, when it turned once more into a worm as before. Saint Dominic absolved her from her sins, and bestowing his blessing went away. As soon as he was gone all the diseased parts fell off from her body with the worms, the flesh healed, and her breast appeared like that of a young maiden. Some days after Saint Dominic called on her again, and found her restored to her former health. She showed him and his companions her flesh, now newly healed, and declared how our Lord had by his servant’s merits cured her of her infirmity. Saint Dominic and Brother Tancred, who was present, saw and heard everything as here written down, and both told the whole story to Sister Cecilia and the other sisters of Saint Sixtus.

How the Lord Healed Another Solitary’s Arm by Saint Dominic’s Merits

There was another solitary living behind Saint Anastasia’s church, who was called Sister Lucy, whom Cecilia used to visit before entering into religion. This woman had a great sore on her arm which caused the skin and flesh to rot away, so as to expose the bone of the arm. As Saint Dominic frequently passed by the spot on his way to Saint Sixtus’ he often stopped to see her. One day while visiting her in company with Brother Bertrand of Spain and several more, he made her show him the diseased arm: as she presented it before him he blessed it with the sign of the cross, and then went his way, while she recovered its perfect use by his merits. Both Saint Dominic and Brother Bertrand, who was with him, and saw and heard all the above, informed Sister Cecilia, and the other sisters belonging to Saint Sixtus’, of this miracle.

How He Founded the Convent at Saint Sixtus, and Carried Thither the Picture of the Blessed Virgin

When, in furtherance of Pope Honorius’ behest, Saint Dominic was gathering together the nuns from the scattered monasteries in the city, so as to unite them at Saint Sixtus’ where the brethren dwelt at the time, amongst others the abbess of Saint Mary’s, beyond the Tiber (where the picture of the Blessed Virgin stood, which is now at Saint Sixtus’) together with Sister Cecilia and all the nuns with one exception made profession into Saint Dominic’s hands, and promised to enter his enclosure with all her sisters, provided that our Lady’s picture stayed with them at Saint Sixtus’. But if on the contrary the picture returned to its former resting place, as it had done once before, then she and all the rest should be dispensed from her vows: Saint Dominic accordingly accepted the condition right willingly. When their professions were once made he told them that he could not allow them to go out of their enclosure any more to see their kinsfolk. But directly their friends got to hear of it they crowded up to the monastery, and began to abuse the abbess and nuns for wanting to destroy so fair a monastery, and for placing themselves blindly in the hands of a man whom nobody knew. The result was that some of them regretted their profession. But Saint Dominic knew all by the light of the Holy Spirit: so one morning he came to them, and when Mass and sermon were over he addressed these simple words to them: ‘My daughters, are you changing so soon, and do you want to go back from the way of the Lord? I want every one who means to enter of her own free will now to renew her profession.’ With this the abbess and all the rest renewed their profession at his hands, although several of them had repented of the step at first, but now were brought back to a sense of duty by his merits. When all had been once more professed under the same condition, Saint Dominic took away all the monastery keys, and had full control of everything thenceforth; he then set his lay-brothers to guard it by day and night and to supply the sisters with provisions; nor would he allow the nuns to converse any more with their friends and kinsfolk at the grille. When the Pope gave the brethren the church of Saint Sabina, and they had gone to reside there, taking all their furniture and books, Saint Dominic wished the abbess and her nuns to take up their abode at Saint Sixtus’. They entered and began to live there on the first Sunday in Lent, and the foremost of all was Sister Cecilia, who was then about seventeen years of age. She received the habit at the entrance door and made her profession a third time into his hands; after her came the abbess, then all the nuns of her monastery, besides other religious and secular women, numbering forty-four in all. But as to the picture of our Lady, from fear of hindrance on the part of the citizens of Rome, who desired to prevent its removal because they had better access to it in its old place, Saint Dominic and the two lord cardinals, Nicholas and Stephen (whose nephew the saint had raised to life), carried it by night to the church of Saint Sixtus, accompanied by a throng of devout people in front of and following it, all barefoot and bearing lighted tapers. They brought it with all due reverence to the sisters’ church, where the community awaited it, and there they placed it. There also it stays to this day with the sisters, to the praise of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be honour and glory world without end. Amen.

Dominic’s Personal Appearance

This was Saint Dominic’s appearance. He was of middle height and slender figure, of handsome and somewhat ruddy countenance, his hair and beard of auburn, and with lustrous eyes. From out his forehead and between his eye brows a radiant light shone forth, which drew everyone to revere and love him. He was always joyous and cheerful, except when moved to compassion at anyone’s sorrows. His hands were beautiful and tapering; his voice was clear, noble, and musical; he was never bald, but kept his religious tonsure entire, mingled here and there with a few grey hairs.

Epilogue

All that has here been written down of Saint Dominic was narrated by Sister Cecilia, who declared that she was ready to confirm everything upon oath, if necessary. But since her life is so holy and devout we may easily take her bare word for it. All the above which she spoke with her own mouth, was written down by Sister Angelica of the same convent of Saint Agnes, unto the honour and praise of our Lord, Jesus Christ and of our holy father Saint Dominic. Excuse the style since she lacks skill in grammar.