Translation of the Article THE FRIARS PREACHERS from the Dictionnaire de Spiritualité:
I. THE SPIRITUAL ACTIVITIES OF THE ORDER
General Characteristics from its Origins until Modern Times
- Works of Spirituality.
- The Direction of Women Religious.
- The Third Order.
- The Rosary.
Of the multiform activity exerted by the Preachers the following do not pertain directly to our subject: the teaching of sacred science to clerics, the battle against heresy, the part taken in the preaching of crusades, the administration of the Church in the ranks of the hierarchy. What remains for us to consider is the oral ministry of preaching and confession, which partly eludes historical research, but whose echo can be heard in the numerous writings to which the Preachers have entrusted the best of their teaching. Father Mortier has already pointed out the practical character of a considerable part of the literary production of the Order at its beginnings.
1. The most important works dedicated by the Preachers to Christian teaching are divided into two types; first, summaries of virtues and vices; second, the lives of saints and collections of exempla. Nevertheless, it is often difficult to isolate specific cases, since the summaries relate edifying narratives, and the collections of examples refer to categories of moral doctrine. The best of these writings, completely forgotten in our day, enjoyed great popularity for several centuries, as attested to by the number of manuscripts and editions.
The Liber de exemplis Sacrae Scripturae of Nicholas of Hanapes +1291, called sometimes Biblia pauperum, went through thirty-six editions between 1477 and 1783; it was translated into French and English Histoire littéraire de la France, vol. 20, 1842, pp. 73-76).
A Summa de exemplis et rerum similitudinibus, in ten books, dating from the first years of the fourteenth century, was published more than twenty times between 1477 and 1670; manuscripts attribute it to Helwic the Teutonic or to John of San Gimignano; A. Dondaine has declared himself firmly in favor of the second (La vie et les oeuvres de Jean..., AFP, vol. 9, 1939, pp. 157-164.
The Sermones of Guy d'Evreux (+ca. 1300) enjoyed universal popularity in the fourteenth century (P. Michaud Quantin, Guy d'Evreux, technician du sermonnaire medieval, AFP, vol. 20 1950, pp. 213-233. -- Another collection, which bibliographers attribute either to Stephen of Besancon(+1294), or to Arnold of Liege (master of theology in 1305), has the subjects arranged in alphabetical order and is entitled Alphabetum narrationum; several of these manuscripts are indicated (Quétif, vol. 1, p. 430; B. Haureau, Notices et extraits de quelques manuscrits latins..., vol. 2, Paris, 1891, p. 69ff).
The earliest, no doubt, and perhaps the most famous of these works is a Tractatus de septem donis, attributed since Quétif (Vol. 1, p. 184) to Stephen of Bourbon (+ca. 1261). In any case, written by a contemporary Dominican, often transcribed, abridged, reworked, it was edited in part by A. Lecoy de la Marche (Anecdotes historiques, legendes et apologues, Paris, 1877). It is a vast compilation of more or less edifying and often droll stories borrowed from antiquity, sacred and profane, as well as personal recollections of the author. See article EXEMPLUM, DS, vol. 4, col. 1892-1896.
Simple edifying biographies were written, such as that of Friar Martin Donadieu of Carcassonne (+ 1299), by Bernard de Pierre Gui (ed. Th. Kappeli, AFP, vol. 26, 1956, pp. 276-290). The lives of saints, because of the space allotted to the exposition of their virtues, may be classified with the collections of examples. The uncontested master of the genre is Blessed James of Voragine (+1298), Archbishop of Genoa, whose work, The Golden Legend or the Lombard Legend, became the basis of popular hagiographic literature up to the eighteenth century (cf. below, p. 27). His confrere, John de Mailly, with his Légendier, was one of his sources (A. Dondaine, Le dominicain français Jean de Mailly et la Legende Doree, in Archives d'histoire dominicaine, vol. 1, 1946, pp. 53-102; reviewed in Catholicisme,vol. 6, 1963, col. 547).
Among the most popular authors of works on morality was William Perrault, contemporary of Stephen of Bourbon, who quoted him; his Summa vitiorum and Summa virtutum had the distinction of being re-published until the seventeenth century. (Histoire littéraire de la France, vol. 19, 1838, pp. 309-310); and Laurence of Orleans, who in 1279 completed his Somme le Roi at the request of Philip III, whose confessor he was. The work, written directly in French, has gone through several editions. It wan translated into English, Flemish, Provencal, Catalonian, Castilian and Italian (Histoire littéraire..., vol. 19, pp. 398-401; DS, vol. 5, col. 864; republished by X. Kuntz, Funf Volks and Kinderkatechismen...., Lucerne, 1900).
However varied their works, the authors just cited were inspired by a common purpose, that of providing "material apt for preaching." The same must be said of numerous scriptural commentaries or biblical glosses: the works of Hugh de Saint Cher (+1263), and of Nicholas de Gorran (+1295), which seem less directly aimed at teaching the sacred sciences technically than at preaching Holy Scripture to the faithful. Moreover, with few exceptions, they are the same authors whose sermons de tempore et de sanctis enjoyed extensive success: William Perrault, James of Voragine, Nicholas of Gorran were still published in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Other Preachers whose many manuscript works remained unpublished were: Nicholas of Biard 13th century) whose Dictionarium pauperum alone was published (Paris, 1498; Histoire littéraire de la France, vol. 18, 1835, pp. 530-531); John of San Gimignano, and Aldobrandino of Toscanella whose Scala fide),a collection of sermons preached during the Lent of 1280, had a wide circulation (Th. Kappeli, AFP, vol. 8, 1938, pp. 163-192).
2. The teaching of Christian doctrine toward which this copious literature was aimed was completed by more specialized apostates, adapted to various categories of the faithful. The second volume of the De eruditione praedicatorum of Blessed Humbert de Romans ( +1277) clearly emphasizes concern for specialization in preaching. We find there models of sermons for all types of listeners, from the pope and his cardinals to women of ill fame (reference in Catholicisme, vol. 5, 1959, col. 1093-1096).
The General Chapter assembled in Paris in 1264, enjoined the priors provincial to provide for the Christian education of youth through the ministry of preaching and confession; it also recommended procuring for the Friars deputed for this charge the libellus compiled for the purpose (MOPH, vol. 3, p. 125). According to Quétif (vol. 1, p. 349), this refers to the treatise De modo docendi pueros by William of Tournai. It is significant that one of the rare works recommended in particular by a Chapter turned out to be this humble school manual. Vincent of Beauvais' (+ after 1263) De eruditions filiorum regalium and the De eruditions principum (often published mistakenly among the works of St. Thomas Aquinas) enjoyed a well-deserved reputation. See article: Florileges, DS, vol. 5, col. 447, 470.
With these works may be included those dedicated to the formation of the Christian conscience of princes; for them Vincent of Beauvais composed a Tractatus de morali principis institutione; St. Thomas addressed his De regimine Iudaeorum to the Duchess of Brabant; and his De regno ad regem Cypri was completed by his disciple, Tolomy of Lucca +1327, under the title: De regimine principum. An anonymous work of the same type, mentioned by Quétif (vol. 1, p. 478), was translated into French by the Carmelite, John Golein, at the command of Charles V. The noble figure of a St. Louis, friend and protector of Vincent of Beauvais, and of his son-in-law, Thibaud of Champagne, demonstrate that the ideal of the Christian prince, described in these works, was not a purely abstract concept. The kings themselves were often docile to the advice of the Preachers whom they were accustomed to entrust with the care of their conscience, the education of their sons and the spiritual direction of their household.
The distractions of the great did not escape the vigilance of the Order: The preachers often took up the question of tournaments and the game of chess provided James of Cessole with the opportunity and symbolic framework for a moral instruction. His Echec's moralisés enjoyed an "immense popularity" (Histoire littéraire de la France, vol. 25, 1859, p. 22) as the number of manuscripts and editions confirms. As early as 1347 the Dominican John Ferron translated it to French (Quétif, vol. 1, p. 471) .
For the merchant class, which assumed a more marked political and social importance in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, St. Thomas dealt with installment selling (De emptione et venditione ad tempus), and Giles of Lessine (13th century) with various forms of usury. Guy d'Evreux composed a Regula mercatorum, mentioned by Quétif (vol. 1, p. 420).
The monastic abbeys also opened their doors to the apostolate of the Preachers; Humbert de Romans, in his tract on preaching, provided for sermons to monks; William Perrault composed a delectable treatise in six books, De eruditione religiosorum (published under the name of Humbert De Romans in the Maxima bibliotheca veterum Patrum, vol. 25, Lyons, 1677, i pp. 665-753), which he obviously wrote for cloistered religious. Humbert de Romans wrote a commentary on the Rule of St. Augustine and the institutions of the Preachers and also, in the form of a letter while he was Master of the Order, a little treatise de tribus votis essentialibus religionis (edited by J. Berthier, Opera de vita regulari, vol. 2, Rome, 1889; cf. R. Creytens, Les commentateurs dominicains de la Regle de saint Augustin, AFP, vol. 3, 1963, pp. 121-157.
3. Finally, a considerable group of writings had as its purpose the formation of the priest in his function as confessor and preacher. A collection for the use of confessors must have already been composed under the direction of St. Dominic at Bologna, if its author, the enigmatic "Master Paul, priest of St. Nicholas," was in fact the Dominican Paul of Hungary, as Father Mandonnet claims (La Summa de poenitenia Magistri Pauli..., in Beitrage zur Geschichte der Philosophie und Theologie des Mittelalters, Supplement, vol. 3, section 1, Munster, 1935, pp. 525-544). To this work may be added a Flos summarum, also very ancient, which is identified with the group of Saint-Jacques in Paris (Quétif, vol. 1, p. 154; Mandonnet, article cited above, p. 532). The most renowned authors of this genre were St. Raymond of Penafort (+1275) whose Summa de poenitentia was still published in Verona in 1744; John, rector of the convent of Freiburg (+1314), author of a series of tracts for confessors which utilized and completed the preceding; Bartholomew of Pisa (+1347), author of a Summa casuum, called Pisanaor Pisanella, or Magistrutia (still edited at Lyons in 1519). These works remained classics in this category to which the clergy owed the best part of their formation until the inauguration of seminaries.
Beside these manuals, a very abstruse litterature of quaestiones casuum, quaestiones de casibus, solutiones dubiorum made way for the proliferation of moral systems in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries: the Rotulus pugillaris of Augustine of Dacia (ed. A.M. Walz, Rome, 1929), the Exceptiones of Simon of Hinton (ed, Walz, in Angelicum, vol. 13, 1936, pp. 283-368), the Libellus...pro rectoribus et curatis.,. ad erudiendum plebes sibi commissas by Bernard Gui and published by him at a synod for his diocese of Lodeve in 1325 (ed. C. Douais, Paris, 1894).
The preachers did not deglect their principal function, the special formation required for preaching. The master here was Humbert de Romans with his De eruditions praedicatorum (ed. of the first book only by J. Berthier, Opera de vita regulari, vol. 2; the complete text in the Maxima bibliotheca veterum Patrum, vol. 25, Lyons, 1677, pp. 424-567) which considers from every aspect the duties of the Christian preacher and furnishes him with a series of models, Among the Dominican authors of Artes praedicandi we should include the Italian, James of Fusignano (+1333)and the Englishman, Thomas Waleys (+ after 1349).
We may mention here the university sermons given most often by masters in theology, a Parisian collection of which was described by M. -M. Davy (Les sermons universitaires Parisians de 1230-1231, Paris, 1931). See:
- J.-Th. Welter, L'exemplum dans la littérature religieuse et didactique du moyen âge, Paris, 1927.
- A Lecoy de la Marche, La chaire française au moyen age, 2d ed., Paris, 1886
- Th.-M. Charland, Artes praedicandi. Contribution a l'histoire de la rhetorique au moyen âge, Paris-Ottawa, 1936,
On canonical collections and manuals for confessors, see
- J.F. von Schulte, Die Geschichte der Quellen und Litteratur des canonischen Rechts, vol. 2, Stuttgart, 1877.
- J. Dietterle, Die Summae confessorum van ihren Anfangen an his zu Silvester Prierias, in Zeitschrift fur Kirchengeschichte, vol. 24-28, 1903-1907.
2. Works of Spirituality.
In the enormous literary production of the Preachers, apart from the Rhenish Dominicans, scarcely any writings come directly under the heading of spiritual literature. According to Bernard Gui, Dominican bibliography has preserved the memory of Romée de Livia (+1271 at Carcassonne) who probably composed a De timendo et amando D. Jesu Christo (Quétif, vol. 1, p. 161), and of Peter de Bareges (1278), author of a brief treatise De gradibus contemplationis (vol. 1, p. 361). But only the titles of those two works have come down to us which seems to indicate that their dissemination was quite limited, Other better known spiritual works, such as the De perfections vitae spiritualis of St. Thomas, the De dilectione Dei et proximi, also attributed to him, but belonging to Helwig the Teutonic (M. Grabmann, Mittelalterliches Geistesleben, vol. 2, Munich, 1936, pp. 576-585), the De divinis moribus (French translation, A. Lemonnyer, coll. La Vie Spirituelle, Paris, 1920), also erroneously inserted among the works of the Angelic Doctor, belong rather to the didactic category than to spiritual literature strictly speaking. As for the Liber visionum and the Liber sermonum Dei of Robert d'Uzes (+1296), they pertain rather to the prophetic type (cf. J. Bignami-Odier, Les visions de Robert d'Uzes AFP, vol. 25, 1955, pp. 259-310; DS, vol. 5, col. 866).
No doubt the spiritual instruction of the Preachers was then quite simple. Its primary source was always Scripture, next to which they quoted the Fathers, especially St. Gregory the Great and St. Augustine, as well as St. Bernard and Hugh of St. Victor. Among the ancient writers we find, but rarely, Cicero, Seneca and Macrobius. Neither the Aristotelian nor the Dionysian influence seems to have made its presence felt in the spiritual literature of the Order. One does not find any tendency toward originality, any seeking after effect, but only, to adopt the precise description of A. Danzas, "the practical application of Gospel common-places" (Etudes sur les temps primitifs de l'ordre de saint Domnique, Series I, vol. 2, Poitiers, 1873, p. 270). To summarize the whole substance of this teaching, it would suffice to give the title of an unimportant work of St. Thomas': De duobus praeceptis caritatis et decem legis praeceptis. The spiritual contribution of the Dominicans was much less the content of their teaching, which differed little from what was written in the twelfth century, than its abundance, vigor and intensity, previously not found in such instruction,
The five volumes of A. Danzas quoted above, despite their imperfections, present a general picture of the spirituality of the Order at its beginnings. A. de Pretis (+1828) has left a manuscript collection of Dominican confessors of popes and princes (Archives of the Order, XIV-16).
3. The Missions
-- The Order of St. Dominic did not remain confined to the areas where it was founded; Languedoc and Lombardy. At the time of the Chapter held in Paris in 1228, it had reached the extreme limits of Christendom with the foundation of the Provinces of Greece, the Holy Land, and Dacia (Scandinavia). These frontier Provinces, with those of Hungary (instituted in 1221) and Poland (founded in 1225), served as points of departure for strictly missionary expeditions.
In the Orient, the destiny of Dominican establishments seemed to be generally bound up with the Latin kingdoms organized by the Crusades. However, an original foundation of the period, the Society of pilgrim brothers of Christ, inter gentes ,made it possible to check, partially, the decline of the Latin influence. This society, inaugurated some time between 1300 and 1304, was not organized under the form of a Province. The religious, under the authority of a vicar of the Master General, were scattered around the basin of the Black Sea, in Armenia and Persia, according to the needs and opportunities of the apostolate. Grafted upon the trunk of the Order and seeking recruits among its members, it was a real missionary institute in line with the most modern formulas (R. Loenertz, La Société des freres pérégrinants, vol. 1, Rome, 1937).
That society produced an even more remarkable institution with which it has sometimes been confused, the Uniting Brethren (today we would call them uniates). They were Armenian monks, attached to the Dominican Order under a special superior. By 1337, they possessed a translation into their language of the breviary, the missal, and the Constitutions (ibid. pp. 142-148; account of their founder, John Qrhnay, in Catholicisme, vol. 6, 1963, col. 559). Their office for the feast of St. Dominic has been edited (M. Van den Oudenrijn, Das Offizium des heiligen Dominicus... im Brevier der "Fratres Unitores" von Ostarnenien, Rome, 1935). These works suffice to point out the spirit of enterprise and the sense of adaptation manifested by the Preachers in the missions of the East.
Their spirituality is delightfully described by one of the most celebrated among the apostolic travelers of the thirteenth century, Friar Ricoldo de Monte Croce, in his Itinerarium (cf. R. Loenertz, op. cit., p. 14). The theme of Christ the Preacher, familiar to the first Dominicans, lent itself quite naturally, under the pen of Ricoldo, to that of Christ the Pilgrim. It might be said, paraphrasing St. Paul's expression, that he intended to fill up what was lacking in the pilgrimages of Christ for his body, the Church. -- See U. Moneret de Villard, La vita, le opere e li viaggi di frate Ricoldo..., in Orientalia christiana periodica, vol. 10, 1944, pp. 227-274; Il libro della peregrinazione nelle parti d'Oriente, coll. Dissertationes historicae 13, Rome, 1948.
On the missions in the Orient, see B. Altaner, Die Dominikaner-missionem des 13 Jahrhunderts, Habelschwerdt (Schleswig), 1924.
The history of the Province of Dacia, destroyed in the sixteenth century by the Protestant Reformation, is still relatively unknown (J. Gallen, Bibliographie dominicaine de Scandinavie, AFP, vol. 5, 1935, pp. 311-326; La province de Dacie de l'ordre des Frères Prêcheurs, Helsingfors, 1946). We do have, nevertheless, some lists Set up by Bernard Gui, a series of priors provincial until 1308, and a list of twenty-eight convents (26 of friars and 2 of sisters) established at that period in the vicinity of the Baltic Sea. The name of Blessed Ingrid (+1282) is attached to the foundation of the convent of Skenninge, in the diocese of Linkoping. Alexander VI in 1499 authorized a transfer of her relics but political and religious disturbances prevented the continuance of the process of her canonization and the recognition by Rome of local veneration (J. Gallen, Les causes de sainte Ingrid et et les saints suedois.., AFP, vol. 7, 1937, pp. 5-40). One of Ingrid's confessors, Peter of Dacia (+1299), is better known, During his studies at Cologne, he was in contact with a stigmatic of the neighborhood, Christine of Stommeln. He left an account of the visits he paid to her (ed. with a voluminous correspondence, by J. Paulson, Scriptores latini medii aevi suecani, vol. 1, Goteborg, 1896),
E. de Wedel-Jarlsberg, Une page de l'histoire des Frères Prêcheurs, La Province de Dacia, Rome-Tournai, 1899 (to be used cautiously). Acts of the chapters published by G. Stephens, Kirkenhistoriske Samlinger, Copenhagen, 1849-1852, vol. 1, pp. 545-642 and vol. 2, pp. 122-129. --Art. Bl. Christine, DS, vol. 2, col. 874-875.
4. The Direction of Women Religious.
The Chapter of Paris in 1228 promulgated an important constitution concerning convents of religious women. The text absolutely forbade all the brethren, even the Master General, under pain of excommunication in the future to placie religious women, or any women whatsoever, under the habitual direction (cura et custodia) of the Order (O. Decker, Die Stellung des Predigerordens zu den Dominikannerinnen (1207-1267), in Quellen, vol. 31, pp. 62-63). What is even more significant: while the constitution only legislated for the future, the brethren took advantage of it to abandon immediately the monasteries entrusted to their care. War was declared between the sisters who intended to remain subject to the Order or to become so, and the brethren who generally were of the opinion that the administration of the monasteries prevented them from preaching, the purpose for which they had been founded. A lively battle waged for about thirty years; and the victory of the sisters was not as conclusive as they might have wished.
Solicited by both sides, the popes had continually to interpose their authority by general orders (bulls by Gregory IX in 1239, Innocent IV in 1243, 1245, 1246, 1252, Alexander IV in 1257, 1259, 1261) and by special decisions made in favor of such and such a community (Prouille, Saint Sixtus of Rome, Saint Agnes of Bologna, Montargis, founded by the daughter of Simon the Montfort). They finally reached a compromise. Clement IV, by a bull of February 6, 1267, (Bullarium, vol. 1, pp. 481482) directed the Order to retain the care of the sisters who had been regularly affiliated with them in the past, but not necessarily to serve as chaplains for them nor to reside habitually in the monasteries. The Order itself, through the instrumentality of the General Chapters of 1267, 1268 and 1269 (MOPH, vol. 3, pp. 137, 141, 144), required, for new affiliations, the most formal of its legislative sanctions: the approbation of three consecutive General Chapters. The foundation of a convent of religious women therefore required the same formality as a revision of constitutions, whereas, to open a convent of friars, it sufficed to obtain the favorable vote of a single chapter.
Nevertheless in 1300, the Order included sixty-five monasteries of sisters in the single Province of Teutonia (where the provincials, notably Hermann of Minden, were clearly favorable to them), and only seventy-six in all the other provinces together (Decker, op. cit., p. 111).
See Mortier, vol. 1, pp. 341-355 and 534-566; H. Grundmann Religiose Bewegungen im Mittelalter, Berlin, 1935, pp. 208-252, 284-303. On Les convers des moniales dominicaines au moyen age, see the art. of R. Creytens, AFP, vol. 19. 1949, pp. 5-48. Henri-Dominique Simonin.
5. The Third Order.
The Third Order was also instrumental in disseminating the spirit of St. Dominic. The primitive title of this institution indicates its antiquity: the order of Penance of St. Dominic. This order of penance pre-dates the middle ages.
G. Meersseman Etudes sur les anciennes confréries dominicaines, IV Les Milices de Jésus-Christ, AFP, vol. 23, 1953, p. 278) characterizes it as follows: "Even before the 4th century, the Church considered her virgins, widows and ascetics as persons consecrated to God in the state of continence by a perpetual vow. After the peace of Constantine, the asceteria, monasteries and lauras gathered together a great number under a common rule, but domestic monachism did not disappear, Many devout persons voluntarily pledged themselves to the state of conversion, of penance (metanoia), making profession of continence, wearing coarse garments, and renouncing, as reconciled public sinners did, military life, public offices and trade, Like the monks, both solitary and cenobitic, these isolated convertis were considered to be in the religious state, even if they did not finally join the common life and pronounce vows of obedience and personal poverty."
That form of religious life in the world was regulated by the Church and developed especially in Italy. It is the trunk upon which the branch of the Third Order developed, the order of penance of St. Dominic. Fraternities of penitents were under the jurisdiction of the bishops, who did not always look after their spiritual needs. Not finding necessary help among the secular clergy, the brethren gathered around the friars' convents. This new orientation took place especially during the first half of the thirteenth century, just at the moment when the Minors and Preachers were making their appearance. Thus in Florence, in 1245, an unusual fraternity of penitents grouped about either the Franciscans or the Dominicans. The popes took an interest in the order of penance and sought to remedy the spiritual neglect from which it suffered. In 1247, Innocent IV withdrew it from episcopal jurisdiction and temporarily entrusted the canonical visitation of the fraternities to the Friars Minor. But the latter soon presented a difficulty: they were forbidden to have possessions. How could they undertake the charge of administering the possessions of the fraternities? In 1257 the Franciscans were relieved of this task; again the jurisdiction reverted to the bishops. But the penitents continued to seek help from the mendicant Orders. In 1285 At, at the request of the fraternity of Orvieto, the Master General of the Preachers, Muno de Zamora, adapted a rule, "for the brothers and sisters of the Order of Penance of the Blessed Dominic" (text in G.G. Meersseman, Dossier de l'ordre de la pénitence au XIIIe siécle, coll. Spicilegium Friburgense 7, Fribourg, Suisse, 1961, pp. 143-156) and required those who desired spiritual direction from the Preachers to submit to their jurisdiction. The rule was subsequently approved on June 26, 1405, by the bull of Innocent VII Sedis Apostolicae (Bullarium, vol. 2, p. 473) as recorded in the second part of the Tractatus de ordine FF. de poenitentiae S. Dominici by Thomas Cafferini of Siena (ed. M.-H. Laurent, coll. Fontes vitae sanctae Catharinae Senensis historici 21, Siena, 1938, pp. 53- 147.
Thomas of Siena intended, moreover, at the request of Raymond of Capua, to demonstrate in the first part that the Third Order was closely bound to St. Dominic. He was responsible for the confusion between the Militia of Jesus Christ and the Third Order. G. Meersseman has made short work of this legend in the article cited above; see also R.-L. Oechslin, Les origines du Tiers-Ordre et les Milices de Jésus-Christ, in Vie dominicaine (Fribourg), vol. 18, 1959, pp. 57-65 and 83-87; on the origin of the rule, A. Van den Wyngaert, De tertio ordine S. Francisci, in Archivum franciscanum historicum, vol. 13, 1920, pp. 3-77.
6. Devotion to the Rosary.
-- The approval of the confraternity, under the form which we know, with the granting of indulgences, dates from the bull of Sixtus IV, Ea quae ex fidelium, of May 8, 1479 (Bullarium, vol. 3, pp. 576-577). A confraternity had just been founded at Cologne by the Prior of the convent, James Sprenger, on September 8, 1475, the day of the death at Zwolle (Holland) of Blessed Alain de la Roche, the great apostle of that devotion (cf. the evidence of Michael François +1502, DS, vol. 5, col. 1107-1115). Development of devotion to the rosary was associated with the activity of the reformed Dominican congregation of Holland, just as that of the Third Order was brought about within the Italian reform of Raymond of Capua and John Dominici. Hence the special concern of the reformers to affirm that the movements they were promoting were directly connected with the founder of the Order. In the case of the rosary we now consider the legends then given credence to be devoid of historic value.
However, early evidence proves that the Order did at first experience an intense movement of Marian devotion, notably under the compelling influence of Jordan of Saxony, immediate successor to St. Dominic.
The devotion was officially marked by the introduction of the Ave Maria at the beginning of the hours of the Office of the Blessed Virgin and by the custom of solemnly chanting the Salve Regina after Compline. The rule of Muno de Zamora, mentioned above, imposed the recitation of a certain number of Paters accompanied by as many Aves upon tertianes who could not read, while parallel rules of Franciscan groups prescribed only the Lord's Prayer. The repeated salutation to Mary was probably introduced in connection with the Order's liturgy.
The private devotion of the friars, varied as it was used this salutation to the Virgin, especially before her altars and images. The Ave, therefore, preserved its proper significance as a greeting, together with inclinations, genuflections, and prostrations repeated a certain number of times, generally a multiple of ten: fifty times, a hundred, a hundred and fifty, four hundred, even a thousand times, a figure which then seemed to indicate the peak of devotion. These garlands or crowns of Aves, which probably symbolized the rose, were divided sometimes according to the number of letters in the name of Mary, or according to the members of her pure body, or to the number of her joys or sorrows. Blessed Romeé of Livia (+1261), who had known St. Dominic personally, was buried, according to Bernard Gui, still folding in his hand the little cord of knots on which he counted the thousand Aves with which he was wont to greet the holy Virgin every day (Quétif, vol. 1, p. 161, and H. Cormier, Le Bienheureux Romeé de Livia, Toulouse, 1884).
Hence, it seems certain that the more precise form of the devotion which Alain de la Roche would later make popular re-enkindled the Marian fervor of the Order's beginnings. But we must emphasize that the organization of the rosary like that of the Third Order, as well as the importance attributed to these two movements in the activity of the Order, dates clearly from the Order's second stage, the reform at the end of the fourteenth and during the fifteenth centuries.
- A Cretino, Origen del Rosario, Vergara, 1925.
- M. Gorce, Le Rosaire et ses antecedents historiques, Paris, 1931 (an original thesis which cannot be totally ignored).
- M. Mahe, Aux sources de notre Rosaire, VSS, Feb. 15, 1951, pp. 101-120.
- A. Duval, La Dévotion mariale dans l 'order des freres precheurs, in Maria, vol. 2, Paris, 1952, pp. 737-782.
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