Saint of the Day – 20 December – St Dominic de Silos O.S.B. (c1000-1073) – born in the year 1000 in Cañas (modern Rioja), Navarre, Spain – died on 10 December 1073 in Silos, Spain of natural causes. He was a Spanish monk, to whom the Abbey of Santo Domingo de Silos, where he served as the abbot, is dedicated. Patronages – of pregnant women, against rabies, against rabid dogs, against insects, captives, prisoners; shepherds. The mother of the better-known Saint Dominic of Guzmán, the Blessed Joan of Aza, is said to have prayed at his shrine before she was able to conceive the son she named for him. That son would grow up to found the Dominican Order. Dominic’s special patronage thus became connected with pregnancy and until the establishment of the Second Spanish Republic in 1931, his abbatial crozier was used to bless the queens of Spain and was placed by their beds when they were in labour.
Dominic of Silos was born in Navarre, Spain, on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees and was a shepherd boy, looking after his father’s flocks. He acquired a love of solitude and as a young man became a monk at the monastery of San Millan de la Cogolla. He eventually became prior of the monastery and came into conflict with the king of Navarre over possessions of the monastery claimed by the king. The king drove Dominic out of the monastery and Dominic went with other monks to Castille, where the king of Castille appointed Dominic abbot of the monastery of St Sebastian at Silos.
The monastery was in terrible shape, spiritually and materially and Dominic set about to restore the monastery and to reform the lives of the monks. He preserved the Mozarbic Rite (one of the variants of the Latin Rite) at his monastery and his monastery became one of the centres of the Mozarbic liturgy. His monastery also preserved the Visigothic script of ancient Spain and was a centre of learning and liturgy in that part of Spain.
Dominic of Silos died on 20 December 1073, about a century before the birth of his namesake, St Dominic of Calaruega. Before the Spanish Revolution of 1931, it was customary for the abbot of Silos to bring the staff of Dominic of Silos to the Spanish royal palace whenever the queen was in labour and to leave it at her bedside until the birth of her child had taken place.
In recent times, great interest in Dominic of Silos has arisen since the literary treasures of the library of Silos have become known. The abbey had a profound influence on spirituality and learning in Spain. Today the monastery is an abbey of the Benedictine Congregation of Solesmes housing a library of ancient and rare manuscripts.
The images show the Monastery and Abbey of Solesmes as well as a Religuary Casket of St Dominic and an image of him taken from the altar piece.