20 Dec Saint Dominic de Silos, Abbott
Today is the feast day of Saint Dominic de Silos. Ora pro nobis.
Dominic de Silos was born in Navarre, Spain, a shepherding town in the Pyrenees. As a young boy and man, he served his father’s flocks as a shepherd, relishing the solitude of the shepherding life, and spending his days in quiet contemplation and prayer. He undertook his own studies, as few teachers were present, with the exception of the Holy Spirit. Eventually, drawn to the Lord, he entered the monastery of San Millan de la Cogolla as a monk.
Recognized for his piety and sanctity, Dominic soon thereafter became the prior of the monastery. While serving as prior, Saint Dominic was drawn into a disagreement with the king of Navarre, who insisted that the monastery’s possessions were rightfully his. Dominic disagreed, and for his trouble was exiled. He, with his monks, traveled to Castille, and were appointed at the monastery of Saint Sebastian at Silos. It was due to his long-term service at Silos that Saint Dominic received his referential name.
The monastery of Silos had greatly declined from its former glory and fervor. The monk Licinian, who was deploring this situation, was offering Holy Mass on the day when Dominic entered the church. By a special permission of God, when the priest turned towards the people at the Offertory to chant: Dominus vobiscum, he said instead: Behold, the restorer cometh! and the choir responded: It is the Lord who has sent him! The oracle was soon to be visibly fulfilled. The charity of the Saint was not concentrated only in his monastery, but was extended to all who suffered afflictions. His gift of miracles drew to the convent the blind, the sick, and the lame; and it was by the hundreds that he cured them, as is still evident today from the ex-votos of the chapel where his relics are conserved. The balls-and-chains, iron handcuffs and the like, which are seen suspended from the vault there, attest also to his special charity for the poor Christians held captive by the Spanish Moors. He often went to console them and pay their ransom, thus preluding the works of the Order of Our Lady of Ransom, founded in 1218, 145 years after his death.
Dominic served as prior of the monastery at Silos for many years, filling his days with good works, miraculous cures, prayer, and ransom of captives. After many years, this holy man was advised of his imminent death by the Blessed Virgin. He recounted to his brothers the next day: “I spent the night near the Queen of Angels. She has invited me to come in three days where She is; therefore I am soon going to the celestial banquet to which She invites me.” Soon thereafter, he fell ill for three days, and subsequently peacefully perished. Those present reported observing his visible soul rise to heaven.
St. Dominic of Silos is especially venerated in the order of Friars Preachers, because a century less four years after his death, he appeared, according to the tradition, to Bd. Joan of Aza who had made a pilgrimage from Calaroga to his shrine, and promised her that she should bear another son. That son was the founder of the Preachers, and he was named Dominic after the holy abbot of Silos. Until the revolution of 1931 it was the custom for the abbot of Silos to bring the staff of St. Dominic to the royal palace whenever a queen of Spain was in labor and to leave it by her bedside until the birth had taken place.
Image: Milacre de sant Doménec de Silos, cercle de Pere Nicolau. Taula, 88 x 65 cm. Museu de la Ciutat, Valencia. (5)
Research by Ed Masters, REGINA Staff