June 10


Amongst the almost contemporary records of Bd John Dominici which have come down to us are a short biography written by one of his most famous sons -- St Antoninus, archbishop of Florence -- and a portrait painted by another -- Fra Angelico -- on the walls of San Marco. A Florentine of humble parentage, born in 1376, John received the Dominican habit at the age of eighteen in the priory of Santa Maria Novella, in spite of some opposition caused by his lack of education and a tendency to stammer. An unusually retentive memory and great perseverance enabled him soon to remedy these defects and he became one of the leading theologians of his day as well as an eloquent preacher. In addition to commentaries on the Holy Scriptures and one or two treatises, he wrote laudi or hymns in the vernacular. For twelve years after completing his studies at the University of Paris he taught and preached in Venice. He was then prior of Santa Maria Novella and elsewhere. At Fiesole and in Venice he founded new houses for men and in the latter city he established the convent of Corpus Christi for Dominican nuns. He it was who contributed most to the reform movement in Italy, introducing or restoring the strict rule of St Dominic in several priories, with the approval of the master general, Bd Raymund of Capua. It should be further noticed that he took the keenest interest in the Christian education of the young and that he was one of the first to detect and resist the pernicious tendencies of the new paganism that was growing up with the humanists. In 1406 he attended the conclave which elected Pope Gregory XII, and he afterwards became confessor and adviser to that pope, who created him archbishop of Ragusa and cardinal of San Sisto.

By encouraging Pope Gregory to resign -- as the only possible means of inducing the antipopes likewise to forego their claims -- Bd John was instrumental in helping to end the great schism, and it was he who conveyed Gregory s resignation to the Council of Constance. The next pope, Martin V, appointed him legate to Bohemia and Hungary, charged especially with the duty of counteracting the influence of the Hussites. He found Bohemia in a turmoil: public opinion had been roused to the verge of frenzy by the execution of John Huss; and King Wenceslaus would not take the repressive measures advocated by the nuncio. As he could do nothing there, Dominici passed on to Hungary, but he caught fever soon after his arrival and died at Buda on June 10, 1419. His cultus was confirmed in 1832.

In the Acta Sanctorum, two lives are printed: one, a short memoir by St Antoninus of Florence; the other, of much greater length, by John Caroli. Unfortunately this last is not very accurate or reliable. But a good deal has been written otherwise concerning Bd John's life and work, particularly in relation to the later phases of the great schism. See especially the articles of J. Hollerbach in the Römische Quartalschrift for 1909 and 1910, and H. Finke's Acta Concilii Constantiensis. Bd John's two works on education, Lucula Noctis (new ed. by E. Hunt, U.S.A., 1940) and Regola del governo di cura familiare, are of notable importance in the history of pedagogy. He also wrote a very edifying tractate of an ascetical character, Il Libro d'amore di carità. Consult further the preface of Fr Coulon to his edition of the Lucula Noctis (1908), and Fr Mortier's Histoire des Maîtres Généraux O.P., vols. iii and iv; with Taurisano's Catalogus Hagiographicus O.P.

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(Butler's Lives of the Saints, Christian Classics, 1995) wmaster@hcbc.hu