instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Monday, August 09, 2004

Difference #62 between Sts. Francis and Dominic

Neil mentions a miracle of St. Dominic that caused all those watching to laugh. I believe this is the one he has in mind:
At one time on his return journey from Spain, St. Dominic carried by way of a small present some wooden spoons, one for each of the sisters [of the convent of St. Sixtus]. One day, after preaching and other deeds of charity, he came when it was late to the sisters, and carried the spoons with him he had brought them from Spain.

As they were sitting together behind the grille, and his brethren were likewise seated beside him, he began to preach to them once more about the wiles of the enemy, showing how Satan, for the sake of deceiving souls, transforms himself not merely into an angel of light, but assumes the shapes of the vilest creatures to hinder preaching and other good works, sometimes even taking the shape of a common sparrow.

The venerable father had scarcely said the word ere the enemy of mankind came on the scene in the shape of a sparrow, and began to fly through the air, and hopping even on the sisters' heads, so that they could have handled him had they been so minded, and all this to hinder the preaching.

St Dominic observing this, called Sister Maximilla, and said, "Get up and catch him, and fetch him here to me."

She got up and, putting out her hand, had no difficulty in seizing hold of him, and handed him out through the window to St Dominic. St Dominic held him fast in one hand and commenced plucking off the feathers with the other, saying the while, "You wretch, you rogue!"

When he had plucked him clean of all his feathers amid much laughter from the brothers and sisters, and awful shrieks of the sparrow, he pitched him out, saying: "Fly now if you can, enemy of mankind! You can cry out and trouble us, but you can't hurt us!"

The sparrow hopped once more through the window into the church, while all the sisters sat down to hear the sermon, then climbing up to the brass vessel, suspended by chains, which held the oil lamp, he broke the chains with a strong wrench and overturned the vessel. The lamp fell out, but not only was it not damaged or extinguished, but went on burning upside down. The sisters all looked up at the crash of the upset, and saw the lamp standing without any support in mid-air.

And so it fell out as St Dominic had foretold, for although the lamp continued upturned not one drop of oil was spilled. Neither was the lamp put out, nor was the bran, put under the lamp for safety's sake, shaken out, but everything remained untouched as if it had stood unshaken in its right place.

When St Dominic and his brethren saw this they returned thanks to God. He then ordered Sister Sabina -- the same whom he had named sacristan when he appointed all the officials in St Sixtus' -- to put the lamp in its right place, and she did so. And so it came about that he employed for God's glory what the enemy of mankind had from envy done for their hurt and hindrance. The sparrow which flew in that night disappeared, and no one saw whither he went.

As it was late while St Dominic was preaching the sisters lit the large lamps in the enclosure and the brothers lit those without, so that all could easily see what was going on in the church. St Dominic wrought this laughter-stirring miracle by the window in St Sixtus' church, in the presence of Sister Cecilia, who saw and heard all that had been said, and of the other sisters of St Sixtus who were also present.