Saint of the Day – 10 June – Blessed John Dominici O.P. (c 1355-1419) ArchBishop, Cardinal, Religious Friar, Theologian, Preacher, Confessor, Reformer, Papal Legate, Papal Counsellor and Confessor, Writer, Evangeliser – born on 1356 at Florence, Italy and died on 10 June 1419 of a fever at Buda, Hungary.
Although John had little education and suffered from a speech impediment that caused him to stammer and stutter, he possessed a tremendous drive to improve himself, overcome his obstacles and serve our Lord. He also had a great memory and later in life became a great theologian and preacher. John Dominic met St Catherine of Siena when he was young, entered the Order of Preachers and was an integral part of a major reform movement. This reform helped to revitalise the Order after its decimation by the plague and general laxity of observance. Not only was he a major force in the Dominican Order but he became a cardinal in the Church and an official legate for the Pope. Most importantly, he worked to resolve the Great Western Schism. He also brought Fra Angelico, the world famous painter and St Antoninus, a brilliant theologian and reformer, into the Order.
Born in c 1355 at Florence, Italy, John spent a great deal of his youth in or around the Dominican church of Santa Maria Novella. He joined the Order at the age of 17, despite his lack of education and his speech impediment, even while the Dominicans are scholars and preachers. After entering the Order, Blessed John studied in Pisa and Florence and received a degree from the University of Paris. As a priest, Blessed John once believed that his speech impediment would threaten his vocation but it was cured through the intervention of Saint Catherine of Siena. Blessed John spent 12 years in Venice as a preacher.
In 1392, Blessed John found himself to be the Vicar provincial serving in Rome. At the time, Blessed Raymond of Capua was the Master General of the Order and he helped rebuild the Order after the ravages of the Plague and helped return regular discipline to the Order’s members.
Blessed John founded Dominican convents in Venice, Fiesole, Chioggia, Citta de Castello, Cortona, Lucca and Fabriano and was a correspondent of Blessed Clara Gambacorta, advising her of how to restore discipline to Dominican nuns of the day. For a time, he lost papal support because of support for the Dominican White Penitents in Venice but was later welcomed back and resumed his work in the Order.
Most importantly, Blessed John worked to provide a Christian education to young people. He opposed pagan ideas that were taking hold in the humanism of his day and was a confessor and adviser to Pope Gregory XII. He was made Cardinal of San Sisto in 1407 and Archbishop of Ragusa in 1408. In these roles, he helped to heal the Western Schism and convinced Pope Gregory XII to call the Council of Constance and to abdicate the papacy causing the anti-popes to also drop their claims to the papal throne.
He was appointed the Papal legate to Milan, Genoa, Hungary and Bohemia for Pope Martin V and, in that role, worked to settle the disputes caused by the death of Jon Hus and to heal the Hussite Schism. However, while Blessed John was able to convert some, he was unable to resolve the Hussite Schism.
John is widely known for his scripture commentaries and hymns. His portrait was painted by Fra Angelico and a his memoir was written by St Antonius of Florence, who joined the Order after hearing Blessed John preach.
Blessed John died on 10 June 1419 at Buda, Hungary, from a fever and he was buried in the Saint Paul the Hermit church there. His tomb became a site of miracles and his remains were venerated and miracles reported, until the destruction of the church during a Turkish invasion. His cultus was confirmed in 1832 and he was beatified by Pope Gregory XVI in 1837.