1. Du Commencement de l’Ordre des Frères Prêcheurs, par le Bienheureus Jourdain de Saxe, deuxième Maître-Général de l’Ordre. – This is the earliest record of St. Dominic’s life.  That it was written before his translation and canonization is proved by the author’s silence on those points.  It is therefore prior to the year 1233.  It has been published with notes by Jacques Echard, the Dominican, in a work entitled “Ecrivains de l’Ordre des Frères Prêcheurs,” Paris, 1719.  It was published a second time in 1773 by the Bollandists in the Actes des Saints, in the first volume for August, and is the edition from which we have quoted in this work.


  1. Lettre Encyclique aux Frères sur lat Ttranslation du Bienhureux Dominique, par le B. Jourdain de Saxe. – This letter, the exact date of which is unknown, but which must have been written after the translation and before the canonization of the Saint, that is, between the 24th May 1233 and the 3rd July 1234, is the complement of the preceding account.  It was published by the Bolandists in the commentary preceding the Acts of the Saint.


  1. Actes de Bologne. – These consist of the testimony of nine of Dominic’s disciples regarding the holy Patriarch’s miracles and virtues.  They are dated August 6 to August 30 in the year 1233, during which space of time the examination was going on.  They have been published by Jacques Echard in the work already alluded to, also by the Bollandists in the Actes des Saints, and by Mamachi the Dominican in the Appendix to the first volume of the Annales de l’Ordre des Frères Prêcheurs, printed in 1756.  It is from the latter edition that our quotations are made.


  1. Actes de Toulouse – In these Acts twenty-six ecclesiastics and laymen bear testimony to the virtues and miracles of St. Dominic during his twelve years’ sojourn in Languedoc.  The precise date of these Acts is unknown, but they were of course anterior to the Saint’s canonization.  They were published with those of Bologna in the three above-mentioned works.  WE have drawn our extracts from Mamachi’s volume.


  1. Vie du Bienheureux Dominique, premier fondateur de l’Order des Frères Prêcheurs, par Constantin Médicis, Evêque d’Orviéto, do meme Ordre. – This second account, which appeard between the years 1242 and 1247, was intended as complement to that written by the Blessed Jourdain de Saxe.  It contains a few fresh details, but is far inferior both in style and matter.  It was published by Jacques Echard.


  1. Vie du Bienheureux Dominique, par le B. Humbert, Maître-général de l’Ordre des Frères Prêcheurs. – This is styled the third record, and appeared prior to the year 1254, in which year Humbert was elected Master-General.  It is much more complete than the two others, and in order and style far superior to that of Constantin Médici.  As St. Dominic’s contemporaries were advancing in years and their numbers diminishing, it is evident that the Blessed Humbert was anxious to record and preserve all he had learnt from them respecting this great man.  His work was published by Mamachi in the Annals previously alluded to.


  1. Chronique de l’Ordre des Frères Prêcheurs, par le Bienheureux Humbert. – This short but interesting chronicle of facts extends from 1202 to 1254, and is also included in Mamachi’s work.


  1. Vie de St. Dominique, par Barthélemy de Trente, de l’Ordre des Frères Prêcheurs. – This has been published by the Bollandists in their volume for August.  It is an extremely short account, and dates from 1234 to 1251, but was not included in the number of the three leading records written in the interval between the years 1233 and 1254.


  1. Vies des l’Ordre des Frères Prêcheurs, par Gerard Frached, du même Ordre. – This work was undertaken in compliance with the command of the Chapter-General held in Paris in 1256.  They wished to preserve from oblivion some of the heroic deeds of the early days of the Order, which deeds occurred within the memory of aged persons still living.


  1. Relation de la Sœur Cécile. – Sister Cecilia, a member of the Cesarini family, was one of the nuns whom St. Dominic removed from the convent of Santa-Maria to that of San-Sisto.  She was then seventeen years of age, and five years later she was appointed Prioress of Santa-Agnes-di-Bologna, where she lived until the year 1290, greatly renowned for her sanctity.  Amongst the inmates of the same convent was one named Angelica, to whom Sister Cecilia specially confided all she had seen of St. Dominic during his residence at San-Sisto and Santa-Sabina.  Sister Angelica wrote at Sister Cecilia’s dictation.  The narrative is written with naïve simplicity, and is unequalled for the intimate knowledge it affords of the Saint’s life.  It concludes with these words: “S. Cecilia has related that which is here written concerning the B. Dominic; she affirms that it is all so true that she will, if required, take an oath to that effect. But this precaution is needless, for so holy and religious is she that her veracity is unimpeachable; therefore S. Angelica of the convent of Santa Agnese has written down what she has received from her lips, that it may tend to the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ and that of our Blessed Father Dominic, and also be a consolation to the Friars.  You who read, pardon the style, for he is not versed in grammar.” This narrative, together with those of the Blessed Jourdain de Saxe, Constantin Médici, and the Blessed Humbert, are the four principal and earliest records of St. Dominic’s life.  The date is determined by the epoch at which Sister Angelica was living in the convent of Santa Agnese at Bologna; that is to say, about the year 1240.  It was not much known till the end of the thirteenth century.  It has been published by Mamachi.


  1. Vatican Chronicle. – This also is contained in Mamachi’s work; it is anonymous.  It comences wit the Saint’s early life and closes in 1263.


  1. Des Sept Dons du Saint-Esprit, par Etienne de Bourbon, de l’Ordre des Frères Prêcheurs. – The author entered the Order in the year 1219 and died in 1261.  His work contains a number of facts concerning St. Dominic, and are taken from the records then in circulation.


  1. Le Bien Universel des Abeilles, par Thomas de Catimpré, , de l’Ordre des Frères Prêcheurs. – This book was published about the year 1261, and treats occasionally of St. Dominic and his Order.


  1. Miroir Historique, par Vincent de Beauvais, , de l’Ordre des Frères Prêcheurs. – Many chapters of this work are consecrated to St. Dominic.  It was written about he same date as the preceding one.


  1. Vie du Bienhureux Dominique, par Rodreguez de Cerat, , de l’Ordre des Frères Prêcheurs. – Rodriguez was born in Spain, in the valley of Cerrat, near Palencia, and flourished in the latter part of the thirteenth century.  His work is but an imperfect compilation taken from the preceding ones.  Its date is not precisely known, but it is after the year 1266, because it alludes to the monastery of Caralégua, founded by Alfonso the Wise in the hose in which St. Dominic was born.  This record is to be found in Mamachi’s work.


  1. Vie de St. Dominic, par Thiérry d’Apolda, , de l’Ordre des Frères Prêcheurs. – The thirteenth century was nearing its close when Minion de Zamara, seventh Master-General of the Order, deemed it wise to mould into one all the various records, adding anything that had escaped the notice of the biographers.  This task was entrusted to Thiérry d’Apolda, a German Dominican, a native of Apolda, which lies between Jena and Weimar. In conformity with his General’s orders, he issued in the year 1288 a new Life of St. Dominic, much more voluminous than any other, and in which Sister Cecilia’s narrative, which had till then remained in obscurity in the convent of Santa Agnese of Bologna, was published for the first time.  This history is written lovingly, but not with much method, and its style, though less simple than that of the earlier historians, is not less devoid of vigor and grace.  Thierry d’Apolda is evidently the last of those who personally knew St. Dominic or his surviving disciples. He knew all that could be known respecting his hero; he gleaned the last ears of the harvest; and, in spit of the time that had elapsed and the inferiority of his style compared with that of Jourdain de Saxe, in his work we behold St. Dominic’s character faithfully portrayed, and without the slightest alteration.  This life has been printed by the Bollandists.


  1.  Chronique , de l’Ordre des Frères Prêcheurs, par Galvani della Fiammà . – Galvani della Fiammà was born in 1283 and joined the Order in 1298.  His Chronicle, though useful in some respects, has not been printed.  The MS is preserved in the Casanatese Library in the Monastery della Minerva in Rome.


  1. Des Quatre Chose in quoi Dieu a Honoré , de l’Ordre des Frères Prêcheurs, Par Etienne de Salanhac, du même Ordre. – On account of the time in which Etienne de Salanhac flourished, he must bee ranked among those biographers of the thirteenth century who immediately preceded Thierry d’Apolda. He was born in 1210, and in 1230 received the habit of Friar Preacher from the hands of Pietro Cellani, and concluded his treatise about the year 1278.  Unfortunately we do not possess this treatise in its original form, and this for the following reasons: - In 1304 Friar Aymerie di Piacenza having been elected Master-General of the Order in the Chapter-General held at Toulouse, commanded Bernardo Guidoni, a Dominican renowned for zeal and learning, to collect in one all the unpublished facts relative to the history of the Order.  In a letter dated the same year, 1304, Bernardo gives his General an account of his researches.  He makes mention, first of all, of having discovered Salanhac’s treatise, to which, he says, he has added some things omitted by the author.  He remarks at the commencement and at the close of the treatise that he has generally, but not invariably, written his additions on the margin.  So that even if we possessed Salanhac’s treatise as published by Bernardo Guidoni, the interpolations would prevent our distinguishing the work of either writer.  But the negligence of the transcribers has much augmented this confusion.  For in the existing MSS of Salanhac’s treatise the marginal notes indicating the majority of the additions have wholly disappeared.  Therefore the treatise has lost its original value, and has no other authority than that it was found, annotated, and added to by Bernard.  In many parts it completely contradicts the records of the thirteenth century.  It has never been printed, but a MS copy exists in the Casantense Library of La Minerva in Rome.


  1.  Vie de St. Dominique, par Pietro Cali. – this is a kind of rhapsody.  The first twelve paragraphs are taken from Etienne de Salanhac’s treatises, and the remaining ones are but a mass of unconnected anecdotes.  In the part copied from Salanhac the author has made even further additions.  Pietro Cali wrote in 1324, more than a century after St. Dominic’s death; this we learn from the twelfth paragraph of his book, where he speaks of Bernardo Guidoni’s promotion to the See of Lodève, which promotion took place in 1324, under Pope John XXII.

Until the end of the fifteenth century St. Dominic had no new biographers, save a very few, and they only copied the Lives of the thirteenth century.  We must, however, except Alain de la Roche, the Breton Dominican, who altered all the traditions which till then had been preserved with such fidelity, and asserted that he wrote St. Dominic’s Life by the aid of private revelations, citing authors who names are unknown, and of whom no trace can be found.  St. Antonio, Archbishop of Florence, who died in 1459, is the exact counterpoise to Alain de la Roche, so carefully does he follow the text of the ancient records.

  1. There are many portraits of St. Dominic, but it is difficult to decide as to their authenticity.  We prefer the one at the commencement of this book.  It is from the pencil of the Blessed Frà Angelico, the celebrated Dominican, who flourished in the early part of the fifteenth century. Frà Angelico held the Patriarch of his Order in high esteem and veneration; this is seen in all his delineations of the Saint; and it would seem beyond doubt that in portraying St. Dominic he followed the best authenticated representation of the Saint.  This is evident by the perfect unity subsisting between his portraits of St. Dominic.  The one now given to the public is taken from the ”Crowning of the Virgin,”[1] a picture in the possession of France, and which is to be seen in the Louvre, in one of the galleries dedicated to the old masters.


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Text from the 1880 Burns and Oats edition

From the transcriber:


[1] (see for the picture mentioned in note 20 of this appendix).    


This concludes the text of Henri Lacordaire’s Live of St. Dominic.  I have left most of the archaic spellings intact (although I have converted the King’s English “our” to “or” in words such as saviour, favour, valour, etc.), as I have found that reading the text in an older form reminds us, by experiencing it, of the continuity and antiquity of what it means to be a Dominican.  May God bless you.  Holy Father Dominic, pray for us.


Given on 17th December, 2006, the 800th anniversary of the opening of the Monastery of Notre-Dame-de-Prouille.

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