TANCRED OF GERMANY
Father Tancred Tancredi, of whom we have just spoken, must not be confounded with another Father Tancred who flourished in the Order at the same time, and of whose life we now give a sketch, in so far as we have been able to ascertain it. This second Father Tancred certainly received the habit of the Friar Preacher in Bologna. Some say that he was brought into the Order by Saint Dominic himself; others state that Blessed Reginald gave him the habit. The date of his reception was from 1218 to 1220. Prior to that time, he had been a favorite soldier, or officer, at the court of Emperor Frederic II.(1)
Because the lives of the two Fathers Tancred were synchronous, and in many respects very similar, some writers failed to distinguish them at all. Others, while recognizing the fact that there were two such men, either wrote of only one of them, or hopelessly confounded their deeds. Father Echard is one of those who have attributed to Tancred of Germany things which should be attributed to Tancred Tancredi. This error probably had its part in leading the learned writer to place the miracle of raising young Napoleon Orsini to life, mentioned in the preceding sketch, and the entrance of Saint Hyacinth Odrowaz into the Order at a later date than the foundation of the first convent of the Friars Preacher in Bologna. But, however clever his argument, the common sentiment of the writers is against him, and based on better grounds.(2)
The old authors make no mention of the second Father Tancred's birthplace. Yet Marchese seems to have suspected that Germany was his native land, which the late Father Joachim J. Berthier discovered to have actually been the case. It is for this reason that he is called Tancred of Germany in this English rendition, although others have called him Tancred of Bologna from the city in which he received the habit of Saint Dominic.(3) He also was prior at Rome during the early days of the Order, which may have been one of the causes of his often being confused with Father Tancred Tancredi. Be that as it may, the German Tancred was a pious, fervent, zealous, and mortified religious. Always is he spoken of as such. Nor was he less a friend of Saint Dominic than his namesake. Like the early Siennese disciple, he owed his vocation to the Blessed Virgin.(4)
Indeed, the vocation of the one-time favorite of Frederic II was not less marvellous than that of the two officers of another emperor, of whom Saint Augustine speaks in his Book of Confessions.(5) Neither was his penance less rigorous. Fidelity to grace was the same in all three. The difference lay in their calling. God drew the two military men, of whom Augustine speaks, to Himself through a perusal of the story of the great hermit, Saint Anthony. Like him, they withdrew into the solitude of the desert, where they spent the remainder of their lives doing penance for their sins, and laying up treasure for heaven. The vocation of Tancred of Germany was, first, to make atonement for his offenses and purify his own soul by the exercises of the cloister and obedience, and then to become an instrument in the bands of God for dispensing the divine mercy unto other men.
Thus Tancred was both penitent and preacher. Faithfully did he fulfill both rôles. Nay, his past experience rendered him all the fitter to show the proud and ambitious the empty vanity of the world, as well as to make them realize the value of the things of heaven. He himself had tasted every sweetness, both earthly and spiritual, and could tell them the difference with an eloquence that came from the heart. He thirsted for the salvation of his fellow man. For this he labored until the end, which, Father Berthier tells us, came in 1230. As had been all his religious life, so was his death most holy. Unhappily Berthier does not say where it occurred.(6)
Early writers of the Order speak in terms of the highest praise of both the Fathers Tancred. It is a misfortune that, in the case of the two men, who were much alike in many things, these historians so express themselves that it is often impossible to determine with certainty to which of them their words should be applied. As is but natural, this has been the cause of various opinions among our later authors, each endeavoring to maintain his own views. Still the name Tancred must ever hold an honored place in Dominican annals.
1. ALBERTI, Leander, O. P., op. cit., fol. 185; De FRACHET, Gerard, 0. P., Vitae Fratrum, Part IV, Chap. 14; MALVENDA, Thomas, O. P., op. cit., p. 195; MAMACHI, Thomas, O. P., op. cit., p. 508 and passim; PIO, Michael, O. P., op. cit., col. 19; QUETIF-ECHARD, op. cit., I, 90.
2. This paragraph is somewhat of an enlargement on Touron, and some of the statements are taken from other authors. (Ed. note).
3. See MARCHESE, op. cit., V, 58, and QUETIF-ECHARD, op. cit., I, 90, and Blessed Jordan's Life of Saint Dominic (Berthier edition), XI. Father Touron entitles his sketch: "Tancred, Favorite of Emperor Frederic." (Ed. note).
4. FRACHET, Gerard de, 0. P., Vitae Fratrum (Reichert ed.), p. 190.
5. Saint Auguistine's Confessions, Book 8, Chap. 6.
6. See Berthier's edition of Jordan's Life of Saint Dominic, XI. (Ed. note).