6.1 Summary of the mission

6.2 Letter of the preachers among the Cumans to the Master of the Order

6.3 Letter of Raymond of Peñafort to the Master of the Order

6.4 Letter of King Bela of Hungary to the General Chapter on John Wildeshausen

6.5 Letter of Queen Mary of Hungary to the General Chapter on John Wildeshausen

6.1 Summary of the mission (150)

In 1221, after Paul of Hungary, who was teaching Canon Law at Bologna, entered the Order, he was sent to Hungary by Blessed Dominic.

They first came to the town of Gyór; (151) there a big crowd of people came out to hear their preaching as if it were a new and unheard of show. During the sermon itself three good students were received into the Order. Because they did not yet have a site, they went on to Pannonia, to stay with Brother Sadoc, one of the four sent to Hungary and later prior of the convent at Agram, who was a man of great perfection. That night a crowd of demons appeared to Brother Zadoch wailing loudly and saying, "You came here to take away our jurisdiction." Then, turning to the three young novices, they said, "Oh, you are putting us to shame by such small boys." Brother Zadoch told this story to his companions after Matins.

Then the group went to the town of Veszprim, and from there to Alba Regia. Later, as the number of brothers increased, they were sent by Brother Paul to the land of Vereweze, (152) whose inhabitants were schismatic and public heretics. They suffered much harassment there, but by persistent effort converted many from heresy to the true faith and from schism to union with the Church.

Then, remembering the desire of Blessed Dominic to go and convert the pagans, especially the Cumans, who had absolutely no instruction about God, they invoked the guidance of the Holy Spirit and decided to send some virtuous brothers to that nation. There, after experienced suffering and incredible hardships, they were rejected and were forced to come back. But the fire of the Holy Spirit and zeal for souls inspired them to try again. After a very difficult journey they reached those people near the Diepner river. There they often suffered hunger, thirst, lack of covering and persecutions; some of them were held captive and two were killed, but the others persevered in the preaching mission they had begun.

At last the Most High rewarded the work and perseverance of the brothers and gave them the grace of being listened to by the pagans. Thus they were able to baptize the leader of the Cumans, whose name was Boris, along with some of his family. After persevering for some years in the profession of the true faith, he slept in the Lord. Before dying, according to Christian custom, he went to confession and received Communion at the hands of the brothers in the chapel of the Blessed Virgin, which the brothers had built as the nucleus of an eventual convent; there he was buried.

After him, they converted to the faith of Jesus Christ Membrok, an even more important leader, with about a thousand of his kinsmen. King Andrew of Hungary, the father of Saint Elizabeth, had the great joy of being his god-father. He too at his end was assisted by the brothers; in his last agony he said, "Let all Cuman pagans leave me now, because I see horrible demons around them; let only the brothers and the baptized Cumans stay, because the two brothers who were martyred are waiting for me to take me to the joys that they preached." He then died with wonderful joy and was buried in the same chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

After much hard work, by God's help, a convent was established, and the brothers began to preach confidently among the people. Only God can count the number of people who were converted to the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ day after day. While the brothers' fervour and zeal for the conversion of these pagans was increasing more and more, God's hidden judgement permitted a persecution from the Tartars. This not only impeded the preaching of our brothers, but forced many of them to go sooner to the heavenly kingdom. Up to ninety brothers flew to the kingdom of heaven, some by the sword, others by arrows, spears or fire. The mission to these pagans was interrupted while, as a result of the Tartar persecution, the Cumans were scattered to different parts of Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia and other nearby regions. Finally most of them came to Hungary, where the king welcomed them. There, by common counsel and with the indispensable help of the king and queen, who were zealous for the faith, ten brothers were sent to preach to them. Up to today they are day and night at work in their office of preaching and have baptized many thousands of Cumans. Day by day, with God's help and the brothers' zealous work, more and more are being baptized and united in the faith.

Brothers were also sent to Bosnia and Dalmatia, (153) where innumerable souls were perishing because of the errors of heretics in the Slavonic Church. After the archbishop of Kalocsa, (154) who was then legate of the Holy See, led several crusades against them and achieved little or nothing, the Pope issued several decrees, entrusting to the brothers this task that others had despaired of. By their persistent preaching and disputing with the heretics, with the encouragement of King Coloman of blessed memory, they made good progress, converting many heretics and their followers to the truth. Agents of King Coloman fought with fire many of those who refused to convert, while churches that had been destroyed and were overgrown with bush were rebuilt. We had two convents there, but they heretics later burned them down.

The Pope also sent some of our brothers to Rumania to preach to the schismatics. They went to the regions of Durazzo, Albania, Unavia and Poland, where there are people of many different languages, most of them under the control of schismatics. The brothers made much progress with the people, preaching, hearing confessions and eliminating many errors that prevailed there. Both the clergy and laity welcomed and listened to them. As the wars, that were common between their various princes, were settled, there the word of God made great progress.

It is noteworthy that more miracles than can be counted were worked by the grace of God and the merits of Blessed Dominic in our several convents in Hungary. Just recently, in 1259 many people came to the church of our brothers at Porroch for the Mass in honour of Blessed Peter Martyr, celebrated on the vigil of the transferral of the body of Blessed Dominic. (155) While people were devoutly venerating the relics of the blessed martyr, a Ruthenian woman who had a badly deformed right hand was healed, as was testified by many religious and lay eye-witnesses.

Also, a woman placed her dead child on the altar of Blessed Peter Martyr and it came back to life.

A man who was possessed for many years was delivered from the demon by the merits of Blessed Dominic and Peter Martyr. I, Brother Svipert, then prior of that convent, then fed the man.

Another man who had a bad case of rickets was healed when he went to the altar of Blessed Peter Martyr.

6.2 Letter of the preachers among the Cumans to the Master of the Order

Brother Benedict and the other brothers living among the Cumans send greetings to the Master of the Order.

The disciples of Jesus who came back from preaching reported to their Master what they had accomplished through God's grace. So we too, who were sent by the Order to this province for the same ministry of preaching the Lord's word, thought we should report to you, who occupy the office of Master over us, how things have gone with us.

Reverend Father, we want you to know that from the time we went to Hungary, one prince after another of the Cumans was baptized. Each year, by God's grace, many thousands of nobles and ordinary people of both sexes of that people received the grace of baptism, and they try as best they can to practice the Catholic faith, both in Lent and at other Christian observances. They are also very grateful that these benefits came to them through our Order. But the cruelty of the Tartars is threatening them no les than other peoples in the east; it is even threatening them more, because they are nearer to the invaders. So we join them in asking the Lord in his mercy to protect and preserve this new garden of faith that the Order has planted; as you gather for the general chapter, please make it your first concern to ask all the brothers to pray for this whole people.

6.3 Letter of Raymond of Peñafort to the Master of the Order

Raymond of Peñafort sends greetings to the Master of the Order.

The progress made by the ministry of the brothers in Africa and Spain can be summarized in the following areas:

First among Christian soldiers staying there, many of whom are hungry for the word of God.

Secondly, among the Aramaeans, who are Christians but slaves of the Muslims. They understand only Arabic, and greatly desire brothers to teach and strengthen them.

Thirdly, among apostates who are being brought back to the faith through the efforts of the brothers. Many Christians who are tempted to apostatize because of extreme poverty or because of allurements by the Muslims have held onto their faith and have been strengthened in it through the efforts of the brothers.

Fourthly, both Muslims and many Christians misled by them thought that Christians are idolaters because of the images that they venerate in church. Many of these have, by the grace of God and the teaching of the brothers, been brought back to the truth.

Fifthly, among Christian captives, whom the brothers instruct and strengthen in their faith; sometimes even get them released.

Sixthly, there is progress among the Muslims themselves, especially among their princes, notably with the amîr al-mu'minîn, or king of Tunisia. God has given them more grace and favour than it is advisable to write about at present. The door seems to be open for inestimable fruit, as long as the harvesters are not lacking. Many Muslims, especially at Murcia, have been converted to the faith both secretly and openly.

6.4 Letter of King Bela of Hungary to the General Chapter on John Wildeshausen

Bela, (156) by the grace of God King of Hungary, sends greetings and sincerest best wishes to the reverend brothers so dear to God, to the Master of the Order of Preaching Brothers and the Diffinitors of their General Chapter.

How wonderful was the virtue and good life of Bishop John of Bosnia, (157) of holy memory, who first lived among us and then became the Master of your Order. As we and the people of our kingdom take delight in recalling his memory, we are stirred to devotion and contrition. He was a kind father to the afflicted, using his little episcopal revenue only to help the poor. In a word, he took pity on the pitiable and suffered for the suffering. His preaching was inspired by the Holy Spirit, enlightening and moving his listeners as he attracted them like honey. He was a true witness of Christ, filled with the grace of God and was loved by all. His merits could not stay hidden, but were brought to light by miracles as people with unruffled faith asked for his prayers. We and others can testify that he raised a dead man, made the crippled to walk and the blind to see. We also, impressed by his holy life, often confidently asked for his prayers to help people who were seriously ill. Even now, whenever we are confronted by illness, we make the sign of the cross over the sick person and implore his intercession. As the severity of the persons's pain and the state of his bodily misery makes us seek his urgent help, so also we swiftly experience the results of grace; the pain stops and the sick person is healed. So, dearest fathers, take steps to publicize his life and miracles, so that Holy Mother the Church may reap the spiritual benefits of such a glorious son and the Christian people may be blessed by his patronage. Given in the golden court on Laetare Sunday.

6.5 Letter of Queen Mary of Hungary to the General Chapter on John Wildeshausen

To the reverend brothers in Christ and lords, the Master of the Order of Preaching Brothers and Diffinitors of the General Chapter, Mary, by God's grace Queen of Hungary and Duchess of Syria, a servant of Christ, with due reverence and devotion wishes you the bonding of love.

Although we are unable to list all the various signs and prodigies that have been worked among the poor through the merits of Brother John of holy memory, once Bishop of Bosnia and Master of the Order, nevertheless we cannot pass over in silence a miracle that we recently experienced through his intercession. Through the intrigue of some unbelieving servants a serious row had developed between our dearest lord Bela, King of Hungary, and our dearest son, King Stephen. They even went so far as to gather armies and set a day to battle one another. We, as a mother, were very much afraid and deeply pained at this, and begged Brother John to intercede for us. That night he appeared to us with another brother of holy memory, Gerard, a prior of his Order. As we anxiously asked Brother John to restore our son to us, he made the sign of the cross over us and answered, "We have restored you son to you." When we woke up, we humbly thanked our Lord Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin, as was fitting. In the morning a messenger brought us letters from our lord, the King of Hungary, informing us that his son King Stephen had surrendered to him and agreed to obey him in everything.

Therefore we are sending you this letter to inform you of the help he gave us through his most holy merits. We also ask your holiness to reply, telling us of other miracles you know he has worked. (158)


of the book entitled

Lives of the brothers of the Order of Preachers

150. The Cumans were a Turkish-related people in Asia. From 1150 they expanded westards, ruling from the Volga to the Danube. From 1223 Hungary checked their power and set about converting them. Pope Gregory IX, by a bull dated 12 March 1228, sent brothers of our Order to them, and the same year the diocese of Moldavia was created for Cumans. Attacked by the Mongols from behind, many Cumans took refuge in Bulgaria and Hungary where they became absorbed in the local population. Innocent IV on 20 February 1253 asked the bishop of Tuscany to take some Dominicans and Franciscans to preach to the Tartars and ordain some bishops. The provincial of France at that time was Blessed Humbert (1244-54), who was elected Master of the Order in 1254.

151. "in civitatem Lauriensem", identified for me by Tugwell.

152. Between Drau and Sau.

153. Croatia.

154. In lower Hungary.

155. 25 May.

156. Bela IV, 1235-1270.

157. John Wildeshausen is meant; see 4.25.10.

158. The remaining sections of this Appendix I have distributed to the other parts where they are more appropriate: 6 = 4.5.7; 7 = 1.6.28; 8 = 5.3.18; 9 = 4.7.7; 10 = 5.3.19; 11 = 5.3.20; 12 = 4.23.16; 13 = 4.24.6.