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DOMINICAN MONASTIC SEARCH Is published by the Conference of the Nuns of the 
Order of Preacher-, of the United States of America. The Conference Is an organ- 
ization of Independent monasteries whose purpose is to foster the monastic contem- 
plative life of the nuns In the spirit of Saint Dominic. 

Sister Mary of Cod, O.P. (North Guilford) 

Sister Mary Catherine, O.P., Coordinator (Elmira) 
Sister Mary Martin, O.P. (Summit) Sister Mary of Jesus, O.P. (Bronx) 

Business Management: Sister Mary of the Immaculate Conception, O.P. , ,. 

Sister Marv of the Sacred Heart, O.P. (Wes+ Springfield) 

DOMINICAN MONASTIC SEARCH is a spiritual and theological review written by 
the nuns. Its purpose is to foster the Dominican monastic contemplative life by 
the sharing of insights gained from study and prayer. It is published once a year 
as a service to the nuns. It is also available to the wider Dominican Family and 
others ucon request, from whom a donation of $8.00 to aid in the cost of printing 
would be appreciated, when possible. 

Contributions to this review should be researched and prepared with concern 
for literary and intellectual quality. Manuscripts submitted should be clearly 
typed, single spaced, on one side of the paper only. The deadline for manuscripts 
is October 1st of each year. Minor editing will be done at the discretion of the 
editors. If major changes are desired, these will be effected in dialogue with 
the authors. The editors, in consultation with the Conference Council, reserve 
the right to reiect inappropriate manuscripts, though reasons will be given to 
the authors with courtesy and encouragement. The Open Forum section is offered 
to those nuns who would like the opportunity to express their ideas briefly and 
informally, and to encourage dialogue among the nuns on spiritual subjects. Each 
separate contribution to Open Forum should be limited to approximately 500 words. 

All book reviews and poetry should be sent to Sister Mary of Jesus (Bronx) . 
Open Forum contributions should be sent to Sister Mary Martin (Summit) . All 
other articles should be sent to Sister Mary Catherine (Elmira) . 


All Rights Reserved 

'Mother of Contemplation" 

Photo of ceramic by Brazilian 
artist, Claudio Pastro 
(The Dominican nuns in Brazil 
are asking him to design the 
chapel in their new monastery 
"poor and beautiful.") 

tabu of contents 

Editorial 1 

Pilgrim Virgin, Pilgrim Church 3 

Sister Mary Emily, O.P. (Lufkin) 

'In the Name of Sweet Mary" 7 

Sister Mary Jeremiah, O.P. (Lufkin) 

Courtyard Scene (Poem) 14 

Sister Mary Regina, O.P. (West Springfield) 

Mary in the Incarnation and the Signs of the Times 15 

Sister Virginia Mary, O.P. (Summit) 

Sign of Hope 22 

Sister M. Giuseppina, O.P. (Marino, Italy) 

The Rule of St. Augustine for Today 27 

Sister Maria Agnes, O.P. (Summit) 

We Hail Thee (Poem) 37 

Sister Mary Rose Dominic, O.P. (Summit) 

Poetry: Speech Framed for Contemplation 38 

Sister Mary Elizabeth, O.P. (Newark) 

The Sun (Poem) 55 

Sister Mary Martin, O.P. (Summit) 

Address to the Presidents of the Federation of Spanish Dominican Nuns . .56 
Jean Jerome Hamer, O.P. 

First Glimpse of Mother Maria Teresa 61 

Sister Mary of the Holy Cross, O.P. (Buffalo) 

The First Constitutions of the Dominican Sisters of Montargis 72 

Raymond Creytens, O.P. 


The Sweet Voice of the Turtledove - Sister M. Giuseppina, O.P. ... 89 
Sister Mary Jeremiah, O.P. (Lufkin) 


The Blessed Virgin Mary has held a prominent place in the tlieology and 
devotion oh tlie Vomlnlcan Order tts foundation. One oh the earliest 
expressions oh tlvU devotion was the Salve Rcgina 6ung in procession to her 
altar. Tlxls beautiful antliem ha* retained Us place at the end oh Nig lit Prayer 
night up to tlie present, and It still hat, tlie power to draw heAvon hrom the 
hearts oh all Vomlnlcan*, a* we ai>k Mary at tlie doting oh each day to "*how 
us the bleated hruit oh your womb, Jesus." These \<W voord* epitomize oust Vomln- 
lcan Marian tlieology and devotion: it Is Mary, above all, who leach us Into the 
mystery oh Clirlst. 

Pope John Paul IT hah recently exploded tills Ionian theology at great length 
A.n great depth, and with deep personal love in his lastest encyclical Redemptorl* 
Mate* . In a concluding pottage oh tlie document tlie Pope tell* u* that Ills reason 
hon proclaiming the present Marian yean. is "to emphasize the special presence oh 
the Mother oh God In the mystery oh Clirlst and Ills ChuAch." 

In order to honor this Marian Vear we oac dedicating this l**ue oh DOMINICAN 
MONASTIC SEARCH, In pant, to Marian tliemes. Qua hirst aAtlcle attempt* to *um- 
maAize Pope John Paul' 6 encyclical In teAmi> oh tlie *pMXual journey oh Mary and 
oh tlie ChuAch, a journey leading us tliAough Christ, in the Spirit, to the Father. 
In the second aAtlcle we look at Marian devotion h*-om a pcAtlculaAly Vomlnlcan per- 
spective as it is hound In the teaching oh St. Catherine oh Siena. Our thlAd article 
explain*, again* t tlie background oh the two papal encyclical* Vive* In Mlserlcord la 
and Redemptoris Mater , tlie theme oh the mercy oh God revealed progressively in Holy 
Scripture and exempllhled In the heart* oh Je*u* and Mary understood a* special 
Sign* oh God'* mercy In today'* world. There i* an intervening poem which is 
revlete with hidden Girl* to logical and Marian symbolism. Our hinal contribution 
on Mary, again h^om tlie Vomlnlcan perspective, i* a translation oh a chapter h^om 
a recent book on Vomlnlcan lihe by an Italian Vomlnlcan Uun. 

The tf-cve remaining article* are concerned with a variety oh topic*. There Is 
an exploration oh the spirituality In the Rule oh St. Augu*tlne. Thl* Is hollowed 
by a description oh the contemplative orientation underlying the poetry oh Gerard 
Manley HoplUns, some oh whose poems are published hor liturgical use In our present 
breviary. Then we look at two translation* wlilch are somewhat related In topic. 
The ji**t Is a very pertinent address given last year at a meeting oh tlie presidents 
oh the Spanish Federation* oh Vomlnlcan Hun* by Jerome Cardinal Hamer. The second 
<u the prehace and hir*t chapter oh a biograplilcal sketch oh Motlier Teresa Maria 
oh the monastery oh Olmcdo In Spain. Our concluding paper, a commen- 

tary on the Constitution* oh Montargi* {1250), i* a tran*latlon h^om the French 
originally published In Archlvum Fratium Praedicatorum In 1947, but oh timely 
Interest In view oh the recent revision and promulgation oh our Constitution*. 
Two more poems and a book review complete our presentation. 

We hope that tills 1987 issue oh VMS is, at least In part, a small contribution 
in honor oh the Marfan Vear, under the guidance oh Pope John Paul II, witli an 
implicit prayer to the Mother oh God and our Mother to "show us the h^ait oh your 
womb, Jesus" during our present spiritual journey and at the end oh our earthly exile. 

Sister M. Catlierlne, O.P. 

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fflarij became t\\2 bearer at ±Ijf San 

giuen in Ij^r bxj ilje Jailjer 
iljrrwglj tljE pmuer nf tlje Hnlxj Spirit 
uiljile preBeruing \\vr uirginitjj intact, 
in tljai flame faiilj 
jBilje diacmiered and accepted 
tlje ntljer dimenjainn nf mntljerlinnd 
reuealed by 3e&\x& 
during Ijija mejafltanic mifljsirm. 

K£D3Efflps:(DE3S fflAaER. #2H 


Sister Mary Fmily, O.P. 
Lufkin, TX 

lope John Paul II issued his sixth encyclical, Red em pt oris M^ter, 

on March 25, 19^7, feast of the Annunciation. This extraordinary letter 

is heavily threaded with the concept of the pilgrim and the journey aspects 
of the Mother of the Redeemer and the Church. 

In the introduction to this encyclical the Koly Father focuses 
attention on the Fauline, "fullness of time."(l.) This reference to one 
of the major pleroma passages in scripture has a definite bearinr on his 
entire message. The Greek word plerom is translated as plenitude and 
fullness. (2. ) This plenitude is contained in its fullness in the Redeemer. 
Christ, because of his plenitude of Godhead, has brought grace and 
salvation through his life, death and resurrection. Thus, pleroma is 
shared with us, not by nature as it is in Christ, but by participation in his 
fullness according to our response to this gift. 

Through the conception and birth of lory's son, the Incarnation, 
the "fullness of time" graces our world. This "fullness of time" is 
inaugurated by the coming of the Redeemer. Yet, Mary, the bright "morning 
Star" precedes the arrival of the Father's gift of plenitude in Christ. 
The Pope expresses it in this way: 

For just as this star (Stella Matutina), together with 
the "dawn" precedes the risinr of the Son, so Mary from 
the time of her Immaculate Conception preceded the coming 
of the Savior, the rising of the "Son of Justice" in 
the history of the human race. (3.' 

So it is that Mary of Nazareth begins her pilgrimage in the fullness 
of her Son as a kind of forerunner, though certainly the grace of her 
Immaculate Conception and that of the Annunciation are ultimately 
dependent upon her Son from whom all plenitude is dispensed. Vatican II 
adds an additional nuance: 

The Father of rrercies willed that the consent of the 
predestined mother should precede the Incarnation, so 
that just as a woman contributed to death, so a woman 
should contribute to life.(/*.) 

It is precisely this "fullness of time", the coming of the Son 
of God, which designates "the hidden beginning o r the' Church's journey". 
(5«) Here too, Mary is a forerunner, since she goes before the people of 
God throughout Christian history as a model and guide. The Holy Father 


Strenrthened by the presence of Christ, the Church 
journeys through time toward the consummation of the 
3 res and roes to meet the Lord who comes. Put on this 
journey. .. she (the Church) proceeds along the path 
already trodden by the Virgin Mary, who 'advanced in 
her union with her son unto the cross'. (6.) 

Since Mary is to be model and guide to the Church in its journey to 
the kingdom, the Holy Father defines with clarity and precision Mary's 
fullness of grace, fullness of faith and fullness of motherhood. ' , 

Mary is addressed by the angel at the annunciation as "full of 
grace". The Church has always interpreted this phrase literally. 
Mary, through a special and uniaue privilege from God, has been free 
and preserved from sin, both original and actual, from the moment of 
her conception. God performed this wonder because he foreknew her 
integrity and because he wanted the eternal Son of God, who is the 
"pure effusion of the glory of the Almighty" ( 7 .) , to be born of the sinless 
virgin of Nazareth. Thus the humble lowly maiden was filled with grace 
so that she might be prepared to be mother of the God Man in the "fullness 
of time". And as the Pope explains, this election was ordained by 
God before thecreation of the world, because God has "blessed us in 
Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places". (8.) 
The Holy Father elaborates: 

This is a spiritual blessing which is meant 

for all peoples and which bears in itself fullness 

and universality ('every blessing' ). (9. ) 

We may rightly conclude that Mary is "full of grace" not only because 
of the dipTiity of her Son whom she bore, and the integrity that was hers, 
but also, this gift of "fullness of grace" was given her for "all people", 
and the effect extends over the entire horizon of salvation history and 
into eternity. It is through this history in time, and on into eternity that 
the pilgrim virgin of grace precedes the Church. 

This rift of'fullness of grace" is bestowed on her through the 
power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God, who empowers her with grace, 
sustains her in this grace throughout her journey to the fullness 
of her destiny and ours. In this, the Fope says, she "remains a sign of 
sure hope"(10), and with that reminder, we think again of the Pontiff's 
reference to Mary as "Morning Star". That star offers a sign of hope 
for the day to come. 

Mary's journey in haste to Ain Karim, nestled in the mountains, 
"guides us in the footsteps" of our understanding of Mary, the pilgrim 
virgin. The Holy Father recalls to us the greeting of Elizabeth to 
her cousin Mary, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the 
fruit of your womb]". (11. ). Then another heavy note is struck, "and 
blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of 
what was spoken to herfrom the Lord". (12.) 


Both these texts reveal an essential Marioloeical 
content, namely the truth about Mary, who has 
become really present in the mystery of Christ 
precisely because she has believed. (13 . ) 

Mary is the threat woman of faith in the scriptures. In 
these same scriptures we see Abraham as the father of faith. Mary's 
role for those who believe the thinrs revealed by God is kin to that 
of matriarch. 

Mary's "obedience of faith" during the whole 
of her pilgrimage will show surprising similarities 
to the faith ofAbraham. Just like the Patriarch 
of the people of God, so too Mary, during the 
pilgrimage of her filial and maternal fiat, "in 
hope believing against hope". Especially during 
certain stages of this journey the blessing granted 
to her "who believed" will be revealed with 
particular vividness. To believe means 'to 
abandon oneself to the truth of the word of the 
living God. (ih. ) 

Mary did abandon herself. She went from strength to strength in 
her "pilgrimage of faith": first at the annunciation, then in her visit 
to Elizabeth and her trips with Joseph and their child to Jerusalem 
for the purification ceremony and to observe Passover. In their 
flight into Egypt to save the life of the "King of the Jews", their 
son, Mary kept maturing in her faith. As her son "advances in wisdom 
and grace before God and man"(l5.)> to begin his "journey to Jerusalem", 
Mary also travels with him, all the way to the summit of the cross. 
The Pope expresses these thoughts succinctly: 

If as "full of grace" Mary has been eternally present 
in the mystery of Christ, through faith she becomes 
a sharer in that mystery in very extension of her earthly 
journey. She "advanced in her pilgrimage of faith" 
and at the same time, in a discreet yet direct and 
effective way, she made present to humanity the 
mystery of Christ. And she still continues to do so. 
Through the mystery of Christ, she too is present 
within mankind. Thus through the mystery of the son 
the mystery of the Mother is also made clear. (16.) 

Pope John Paul desires that we, along with John the disciple, hear 
Jesus say to us, "behold your mother". Before Mary became the physical 
mother' of her son, she became spiritual mother by accepting him in her 
heart. In her journey of faith and grace Mary hears and heeds the word 
spoken to her. She "hears the word of God and keeps it in her heart" 
and ponders it day and nirht. She is like that biblical tree "planted 
near running water, that yields its fruit in due season" . (17. ) The fruit 
Mary yields is the fruit of her womb, Jesus. She experiences 
Motherhood completely, and she roes before us in complete openness to 
the Word. 


Because of this unioue affinity with the Word, the Pope highlights 
the events of the wedding feast at Cana of Galilee. Here Mary becomes 
a mediatrix in a natural way, though her son produces supernatural 
effects. It is natural for a mother who notices something her son can 
fix to approach him for the job. Mary, as a good mediatrix, turns to 
her son, Jesus, to inform him, "They have no wine" .(IB) The point here 
is not that Jesus worked a miracle, but that Mary his mother mediates 
between the wine stewards and her son. In like manner Mary mediates 
with himfor the needs of her spiritual children in grace. She does 
this "not as an outsider, but in her position as Mother". And 
simificantly, it is she who has once again traveled on before us in 
a particular capacity, this time in grace. 

In the second major part of the encyclical Pope John Paul places 
the Mother of God at the center of the rilgrim Church in a different 
way. Instead of extolling her qualities and virtues specifically, he 
focuses on her assistance to the Church as the Mother who has gone before 
us into heaven. This assistance in plory has its roots in all the 
mysteries of Mary, with the event of Fentecost as the launching event,' and 
the prelude. It is by reason of her personal graces and privileges that 
Mary stands out in high relief in the upper room with Peter and the 
apostles on that anointed day of Fentecost. "In the upper room Mary's 
journey meets the Church's journey of faith". (.21) 

She did not receive the apostolic mission given the apostles, but 
she was present as a witness to all the great events in the life of her 
son. She was a "unique witness to the mystery of Jesus, that mystery 
which before their eyes had been disclosed and confirmed in the cross 
and resurrection"* (22.) The apostles, knowing of her "long journey 
through faith", found in her a support for their own. And Mary, "who 
figured profoundly in the history of salvation. .. summons the faithful 
to her son and his sacrifice and love for the Father". (23.) 

It is precisely in this ecclesial journey or 
pilgrimage through space and time, and even more 
through the history of souls, that Mary is present 
as one who advanced on the pilgrimage of faith, 
sharing unlike any other creature in the mystery of 
Christ. (24.) 

The faith of Mary, says the Holy Father, always precedes the 
"pilgrim people of God" down through the centuries. Thus we find 
the world-famous shrines of Marian devotion as an outstanding reminder 
to pilgrims of her maternal care and her desire to deepen their personal 
faith in God. 

Ecumenism in our own day is prominent in the prayer and desire of the 

pilgrim Church as we march forward into the future. 
Mary is a sign of hope for unity because of her 
"obedience of faith". At the present stage of her 
journey, therefore, the Church seeks to rediscover 
the unity of all who profess thier faith in Christ in 
order to whow obedience to her Lord, who prayed for 
this unity before his passion. (25. ) 


The Church has always modeled herself on Mary's ^o'lme 1 -, This is 
certainly true of our tine a? we stand on the threshold of the third 
millennium of Christianity. The Virgin full of rrace ushers us into this 
new era in her Son, who is the way of grace and fullness for the pilgrim 
Church. We arereminded by the Second Vatican Council that the Queen of 
heaven is not unmindful of the trials and tribulations of our time, 
and that Mary's mediation continues in the history of the Church and 
the world. 

...Mary by >-er maternal charity, cares for the 
brethren of her ?on who still iourne^ on earth 
surrounded by dangers and difficulties, until 
they are led to t^eir harry homeland . (26) 

And so the encyclical ends; yet/ like Christianity itself, its message 
cannot end. We are a rilprim Church looking to the pilprim virgin who 
poes before us. We have one calling and one hope from God, and we press 
forward in the direction God has called us to experience that pleroma 
as Mary experienced it in her son. We will fall short of what 
she experienced, but the rrace that comes from him and is mediated 
through the Mother of the Redeemer will nevertheless be freely given to those who 
will reach out to the source of grace and share her experience proportionately. 

The Pope, inhis concern for all the Churches and for all the 
peoples of the world, explains a way to move toward this future of fullness 
of grace. 

Mary is deerly rooted in humanity's history, 
in man's eternal vocation according to the 
providential plan which God has made for all 
eternity. (27. ) 


1. Gal. h:L 

2. Robert C. Broderick, 

The Catholic Fncycloredia , 
(Our Sunday Visitor, Inc. , 
Huntinpton, Indian^, 700), 
p. ^77. 

3. Pods. John^Paul II 
ReafcirH-Tis Mater , No. 3 

U. ibid, No. 1 " 

5. Lumen Gentium . No. 56 

6. ibid," 5P 

7. Wis. 7:25 
B. Eph. 1:3 

9. Redemrtoris Mater, No. 8 

10. ibid, No. 11 

11. cf. Lk l:4C-42 

12. Lk. 1-45 

13. Redemrtoris Pater, T !o. 12 
U. ibid, No. Ik 

15. Lk. 2:52 

16. Redemrtoris Mater , No. 19 

17. Is. 1:3 
IP. Jn. 2:3 

19. Redemptoris Mater, No. 21 

20. ibid, Mo. 23 

21. ibid, no. 26 

22. ibid ( same No. ) 

23. Lumen Gentium . No. 65 

2U. Re demptoris Mater . No. 25 

25. ibid, No. 35 

26. Lumen Gentium . No 65 

27. Redemptoris Mater . No. 62 



Sister Mary Jeremiah, OP 
Lufkin, Texas 

Catherine of Siena is generally considered a predominantly 
Christological saint. Jesus Christ penetrates her every thought, word 
and action. But the corollary, the less emphasized complement to her 
total dedication to Jesus is her unfailing devotion to Mary his Mother. 
Catherine's commitment to Mary is like a deep underground spring which 
flows silently, yet continually, to nourish and vivify her spiritual 

Mother of the Redeemer , the recent and magnificent encyclical of 
Pope John Paul II, could well be an elaboration of Catherine's under- 
standing of Mary. Catherine sees her in relation to the great mysteries 
of Christ's conception, birth, passion, death and resurrection. It is 
especially in her participation in the sacrifice of Calvary that Mary 
reveals her greatness and maternal relationship to the redeemed as well 
as to the Redeemer. 

Time and space do not permit a thorough examination of Catherine's 
experiences and writings regarding Our Lady, an analysis of which would 
fill a book. Blessed Raymond's Life of the saint recounts many stories 
including the observation that the most constant words from Catherine's 
lips as a child were the "Hail Mary." Her consecration at the age of 
seven was entrusted to Mary, Queen of Virgins. Catherine always considered 
the guidance and friendship of Raymond of Capua as a special gift from 
her heavenly Mother. 

Catherine speaks of Mary several times in the Dialogue and even 
begins the book by recalling that it was at a Mass on "Mary's day" that 
the eternal Father responded to her four petitions for mercy. Mary, as a 
solicitous mother, knows how to gift her children. Not only did she give 
Raymond to Catherine, but in obedience to the Father, she gave Dominic to 
the world to spread the Word of truth. 

/Dominic/ was a light that I offered the world 
through Mary and sent into the mystic body of 
holy Church as an uprooter of heresies. Why 
did I say 'through Mary'? Because Mary gave 
him the habit - a task my goodness entrusted 
to her. 

Mary is the bait God uses to save souls and show them his mercy. God 
the Father assures Catherine that no one will be lost who loves and 
reverences Mary, the gentle Mother of the only-begotten Son. 

Mary is mentioned in a number of Catherine's Prayers . One of the 
most powerful is Prayer XI in which Catherine addresses Mary of the Feast 


of the Annunciation, 1379. Our Doctor of the Church proclaims Mary as an 
"alter Christus" by applying to her images she usually associates with 
Christ, for example, "peaceful sea", "fire", "temple of the Trinity", 
"bait", "book" and "bearer of mercy". This prayer is a catherinian 
litany of marian devotion. At the same time it expounds the doctrinal 
aspect of Mary's role in the Incarnation and Redemption. 

These are merely brief references; the reader can consult the Life , 
Dialogue and Prayers for more examples and further insights. In the 
remaining pages, I would like to present several of Catherine's Letters 
because they are not readily available in English. Almost 400 letters 
are extant. All but five of these begin with the words, "In the name of 
Jesus Christ crucified and of sweet Mary," This alone speaks of 
Catherine's abiding love for the Mother who is never far from her Son. 

Letter 144 to Monna Pavola of Fiesole contains a short summary of 
Catherine's understanding of Mary in the economy of salvation. Monna 
Pavola was a venerated abbess who had been the spiritual director of 
many fervent souls, including the saintly Giovanni Columbini, the founder 
of an Order near Siena. Catherine begins this letter by sharing her 
contemplative love for Mary expressed in beautiful imagery. She then 
concludes by mentioning some practical things to do. 

Her theme comprises the two- fold mystery of Incarnation and Redemp- 
tion. We sometimes separate these two mysteries of faith, yet Catherine 
sees them as one reality, the complete expression of God's love for sinners. 
Catherine always places Mary in a collaborative role next to her Son, and 
the Mother and Son are never in conflict. The Mother is always subordinate 
to her divine Son, yet ahe is also free in fulfilling her unique role in the 
work of salvation. 

Catherine loves the image of Mary as the fertile soil, the good 
field in which the seed of the Word of God is sown. The Word is grafted 
into our humanity through Mary. The warmth of the sun, the Spirit-Love 
burning within Mary's heart, enables the seed to germinate and bring forth 
its flower and fruit. "0 blessed and sweet Mary, you have given us the 
flower of sweet Jesus. "^ Then immediately Catherine sees the Redemption 
as the full- flowering of the Incarnation. She says that this flower comes 
to full term and brings forth its fruit when it is placed "on the wood of 
the most holy cross. "* 

When Christ was born, the shell surrounding the seed-kernel remained 
in the earth, in Mary. Catherine says this shell was the will of the Son 
of God. Through the imagery of gardening, Catherine proclaims that the 
wills of Jesus and Mary are one. This explains Mary's role, her effective- 
ness and the honor due her. She bears within her heart the same thirst 
for the honor of God and the salvation of souls that impelled Jesus to run, 
like a lover, to the disgraceful death on the cross. Mary was so united 
with Jesus that, if there had been no other way, she herself would have 
put her Son on the cross to fulfill the Father's will. 


Because of Mary's absolute union with the will of God there is no 
need for us to worry that she will be an obstacle to or distraction from 
Jesus. On the contrary, Mary is the perfect disciple, showing us the way 
to Jesus, helping us to follow him. Mary leads us to Jesus. She desires 
only the full accomplishment of the divine will. 

Catherine continues this Letter 144 by pointing out that Mary is not 
just the Mother of Jesus confined to an historical time and place, but 
she continues to exercise her maternal mediation throughout the course of 
time and in every human soul. Catherine's words are as valid today as we 
approach the end of the second millennium as they were in July, 1378. 

Keep in mind, my dearest Sister, and never let 
it leave your heart and memory and soul, that 
you and all your daughters have been offered and 
given to Mary. Therefore, beg her to present 
you as a gift to sweet Jesus, her Son. She will 
do it as a sweet and kind mother, and a mother 
of mercy. Do not be ungrateful or unappreciative. 

Every human being redeemed by the blood of Christ was given to Mary 
at the cross: "Behold, your Child". . ."Behold, your Mother" (Jn. 19:26-27). 
Therefore, each person belongs to Mary and can rely upon her motherly 
intercession. This belonging to her is intensified by the profession of 
religious vows or by a personal consecration. Catherine is writing to 
religious women and wants them to rejoice always in the remembrance of 
Mary's intercession for them. Mary is continually offering her children 
to God, standing beside them during their personal "Calvaries" to unite 
them to the pierced Heart of her Son. 

Catherine's vision of Mary's role is primarily one of maternal 
mediation and co-redemption, consequently, Catherine's favorite title of 
Our Lady is Mother of Mercy. She is the Mother of Mercy is two ways. 
First, she is the true mother of Jesus Christ, mercy incarnate. It is 
precisely the crucified Christ who is the sign par excellance of God's 
mercy and love. Second, Mary is a merciful mother because this best 
describes the qualities of her own immaculate heart and mind. 

Union with Mary leads to full availability for the service of God 
and neighbor. Thus, Catherine concludes her letter to Abbess Monna Pavola 
by encouraging her (and all subsequent readers) to struggle daily to 
acquire virtue and to be ready to serve the Holy Father in whatever way he 
needs, even to the point of "dying for the holy Faith. "' 

Catherine did not confine sharing the fruits of her contemplation with 
similarly devout people. Without apologizing for her beliefs, she wrote 
the same Gospel message to believers and non-believers alike. The two 
following letters are addressed to a Jew and a prostitute respectively. In 
both cases she uses Mary as the primary example, or to use Catherine's 
words, "bait", to draw them to Jesus Christ. These two letters are special 
treasures because they reveal Catherine's undaunted and tender concern for 


those not yet united with Jesus and his Mother. 

Letter 15 is addressed to Consiglio, a Jewish usrer from Padua. His 
work had brought him to Siena where Catherine probably met him. In this 
relatively short letter, Catherine mentions Mary by name five times. Why? 
Perhaps it is the ancient image of the "daughter of Zion" or the import- 
ance of the mother in a Jewish family. I believe it is also a simple 
example to illustrate the phrase "to Jesus through Mary." 

Her greeting is more elaborate, more jubilant than usual. She 
replaces "In the name of Jesus Christ crucified and of sweet Mary" with 
"Praised be Jesus Christ crucified, son of the glorious Virgin Mary." 
Again, unlike her practice in other letters, Catherine uses a similar 
expression of praise to close the letter. "Praised be Christ crucified, 
and his swost Mother the glorious Virgin Mother holy Mary." Thus, 
Catherine opens and closes this message to her Jewish friend with phrases 
reminiscent of the ancient Jewish blessing, "Blessed be the Lord God of 
Israel..." For Catherine, Mary is the most exalted woman of Israel, the 
fulfillment of the Virgin-Mother imagery of the Daughter of Zion. 

The Mother and Son are inseparable. Mary brings the long-awaited 
Messiah to her people. Through Catherine, Mary pleads for her Jewish 
people. Catherine, for her part, cannot seem to refer enough to Mary, 
including her is almost every mention of Christ. "Most beloved and 
dearest brother redeemed like myself by the precious blood of the Son of 
God, I unworthy Catherine, write to you, constrained by Christ crucified 
and by his sweet Mother Mary. I beg you... to receive the Grace of holy 
baptism." 8 

Although Consiglio is not a Christian, and we do not know for certain 
if he ever became one, Catherine seeks to woo him to love Christ by using 
expressions of warm solidarity. dearest brother in Christ Jesus open 
your eyes..." "How sweet and kind is our God..." Catherine does not 
consider herself better than this non-Christian as indicated in the greeting 
recorded in the previous paragraph. On the contrary, she knows Christ has 
united himself to all of humankind through his Incarnation and freely 
offers his redemptive blood to everyone. Catherine seeks to lead this Jew 
from the "law of Moses founded on Justice... to the new law given by Christ 
crucified, the gospel life founded on love and mercy." 

Mary is the spouse of the Holy Spirit. They are united forever to 
bring forth the life of Christ in souls. Where the Spirit is, there is 
Mary with her motherly concern. Where Mary is, there is the Spirit, "the 
Lord and giver of life." Catherine unites the Spirit and Mary in their 
desire to bring eternal life to Consiglio. "Make no more resistance to 
the Holy Spirit who calls you and do not despise the love that Mary has 
for you, nor the tears and prayers that have been offered for you." 1 ^ A 
remarkably beautiful and moving statement! Mary loves this person. She 
loves every person before he or she has accepted Christ. Like the Trinity 
to whom Mary is so closely united, she takes the initiative in loving. 
Truly a mother, she is the first to love the unborn child long before the 
infant is aware of his or her mother. Together with the Holy Spirit, Mary 


has conceived a tremendous love for Consiglio and labors to bring forth 
the image of her Son in his soul. 

Catherine is a faithful disciple of Jesus and Mary and so there is 
no one excluded from her loving care. A man once came to Catherine 
brokenhearted by the wayward life of his sister who had become an "outcast" 
of society. Some scholars speculate that he had heard of Catherine's 
success in converting Niccolo di Tuldo before his execution, and so had 
recourse to Catherine to convert his sister from a life of sin. You may 
remember that Catherine preceded Niccolo to the place of execution and 
prayed for mercy through Mary. The saint recalls that she called on 
Mary because "I wanted this grace, that at the moment /of death/ she 
would give him light and peace of heart, and that I would see him reach 
his goal. "11 

Catherine takes upon herself the man's sorrow and writes his sister, 
a prostitute in Perugia. Catherine is very blunt in making the woman face 
her situation. "It seems that you act like a pig wallowing in the mire 
for you are covered with filthy mud. You have made yourself a servant and 
slave of sin. You have taken the devil for your lord, and serve him day 
and night. "1* Our mystic continues with other images to try to awaken the 
prostitute's conscience, then she directs her words to the most tender 
emotions of the latter' s heart. Everyone yearns for love and Catherine 
offers the woman two models: the Blessed Mother and St. Mary Magdalen. 

Run to that sweet Mary who is mother of 
compassion and of mercy. She will lead 
you into the presence of her Son. On your 
behalf she will show him the breast with 
which she nursed him and move him to bend 
down to show you mercy. You, as a daughter 
and servant redeemed by the blood, will 
then enter the wounds of the Son of God. 
There you will find such an ineffable 
charity that it will consume and burn up 
all your miseries and defects. * 

Catherine is confident that Mary's motherly intercession will be 
victorious for anyone who goes to Jesus through Mary. Jesus longs to 
show his mercy to the world and he refuses his mother nothing. Mary does 
not draw people to herself, but she leads them to Jesus and she especially 
brings them to his pierced heart. Catherine knows this to be true from 
her own experience. On at least one occasion, Mary had obtained graces 
for her from Christ's side. 14 

Catherine ends her strong, yet tender, appeal to the prostitute of 
Perugia in a manner different from all her other letters. After her usual 
closing of "Sweet Jesus, Jesus Love", she adds the delicate words, "Mary 
sweet Mother." It seems she desires to place this unfortunate woman once 
more into the loving care of the Immaculate Heart of her Merciful Mother. 
Both this letter and the one to Consiglio reveal Catherine's absolute 
confidence in Mary to embrace those who appear to be the farthest away and 


to carry them to the loving heart of her Son. 

Blessed Raymond of Capua was famous for his devotion to Our Lady and 
wrote a popular commentary of the "Magnificat." Some scholars believe that 
it was actually St. Catherine who fostered his devotion and inspired him 
to write about Mary. Raymond was not ashamed to acknowledge Catherine as 
his spiritual "mama." One of the most noted characteristics of her 
personality was her spiritual motherhood. In fact, this quality was so 
outstanding and unusual that it is almost unparalleled in the history of 

She had an extraordinary gift to captivate the hearts of people of 
every social strata by her spiritual presence and lead them to Christ. 
When this young illiterate woman called prelates and professors, nobles 
and common people her "beloved children," they spontaneously responded 
"dearest mama." Her disciples would even call themselves "caterinati" 
meaning "en-catherined," one charmed or possessed by Catherine. Scholars 
have sought to explain her spiritual power and influence, but most are 
forced to admit it is a supernatural reality emanating from her profound 
spiritual life. 

In the light of the present work, I would like to suggest that her 
vast and fruitful spiritual motherhood was a consequence of her deep 
union with Mary, the spiritual Mother of Heaven and Earth. 

There seem to be three stages in Catherine's devotion to Mary: 
1) early childhood when she concentrated on vocal prayers and explicit 
acts of devotion; 2) the time of seclusion in her cell and early apostolate 
when she meditated upon the mysteries of faith and began her works of 
service; 3) her mystical life during the last years of her life in which 
union was so deep as to surpass description. The more profound Catherine's 
union with Mary becomes the more interior and subtle we find it. 

Pope Paul VI in proclaiming Catherine of Siena a Doctor of the Church 
called her, "the mystic of the Incarnate Word... the mystic of the Mystical 
Body of Christ , that is, of the Church ." These very phrases find their 
fullest expression in Mary, Mother of the Word and Mother of the Church. 

It was St. Catherine's profound love for Mary which opened her to 
the transforming action of the Holy Spirit to become such an extraordinary 
spiritual mother and totally faithful spouse of Jesus Christ. 



St. Catherine of Siena, The Dialogue , trans. Sr. Suzanne Noffke, OP 
(New York: Paulist Press, 1980), chapter 158, p. 337. 

2 Ibid. , cf. chapter 139. 

3 St. Catherine of Siena, Le Lettere , collected and notes by Niccolo 
Tommaseo, ed. by Piero Misciatelli in six volumes, (Florence: C/E Giunti - 
G. Barbera, 1940"), Letter 144, Vol. IV, p. 282. 

4 Ibid. 

5 Ibid. , p. 283. 
Cf . , Pope John Paul II, Dives in Misericordia . 

7 0p. Cit . L 144-IV-285. 

8 Ibid. , L 15-11-49. 

9 Ibid. , p. 50. 

10 Ibid . 

n Letter 273-IV-176. 

12 Letter 276-IV-182. 

13 Ibid. , p. 184. 

* 4 Cf . , Johannes Jorgensen, Saint Catherine of Siena , trans. Ingeborg 
Lund (New York: Longmans, Green § Co., Inc. 1938) pp. 31-32. 

■^Pope Paul VI, "Proclamation for a Doctor of the Church," L'Osservatore 
Romano , English edition, 42(133) October ,5 1970, pp. 6 5 7. 



Amidst our stony limestone walls 

The winter lumbers in. 
Announced by lightning near the dawn 

While snowfall feathers thin. 

A breathless sight, so rich to see 
As roofs mount high with white, 

Yet still and peaceful like a sleep 
As dawn breathes forth from night. 

The frosty winds swirl round and round 
Our Lady's shrine set deep; 

A paradox, amidst the calm 

Some swirling spirits' sweep. 

The little trees blow with the blow 
And humbly lend their twigs 

To dress in lacy holiday, 
To sway to nature's jig. 

See what I have done for you 

Within the night's slow watch 

The gift of dawn, white tumbled break 
A vision near, while yet far off. 

Sister Mary Regina, O.P, 
West Springfield, Mass. 


Sister Virginia Mary, 0. P. 

(This v,as originally a talk given at Solemn Chapter for Feast of 
the Incarnation of the Lord, March, 1987. It has been expanded 
to Include themes especially relevant to the Marian Year.) 

"I find myself so unworthy and ill-equipped to speak of this 
mystery that I don't know where to begin or where to end. If men 
did not require some stimulation to live a good life, it would 
be better to adore this mystery in silence, for it almost seems 
a lessening of such great mysteries to try to describe them In 
human language." These are not my own words but those of our 
Erother in St. Dominic, Fray Louis of Granada. (1) He expressed 
well the inadequacy of human language for '-explaining divine 
mysteries, so my own attempt will be replete with such limitations 
I would like to call this simply a sharing on the two most impor- 
tant aspects of this mystery of the Incarnation and the special 
meaning they have for our own day. 

First, we know that the motive of the Incarnation was that 
of LOVE and MERCY and that this is what characterized our Savior's 
whole life and mission. Scrloture abounds with passages which reveal 
these attributes of God from the beginning of Genesis when the 
Savior "was promised, to Exodus, "when after the people had revolt- 
ed and broken the first covenant in the desert, God had revealed 
Himself to Moses, passing before Him and crying, 'the Lord, the 
Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anrer and abounding 
in steadfast love and faithfulness'. (Exodus 34:6) This was~an in- 
itial revelation of the meaning of the mysterious name of YAHW'EH, 
the aspect of His nature which He chose to make known first to 
man, the impression which He wished to be most deeply engraved upon 
man's heart.' (2) When the people turned away again He sent 
the prophets to call them back, 

__• --and in their preaching they asso- 
ciate mercy with eloquent Images of God's love; for the Lord loves 
Israel with a love of unparalleled preference and choice, a love 
like that of a husband. For this reason In His mercy He forgives 
her sins including infidelity and betrayal. The Lord saw the 
wretched state of His enslaved people, and hearing their cry and 
seeing their affliction, He determined to set them free. In this 
saving act of the Lord the prophet could see both His love and 
compassion at work. This, then, Is the basis for the security of 
the people as a whole and each of its members: the divine mercy 
upon which human beings can call in every adversity. (3) 

Isaiah 42:1-4, the first ''Song of the Servant', 
describes the Lord's messenger who will fulfill His plan for the 
earth, a mysterious figure, whom most modern exegetes consider to 


be an Individual: "Behold My servant whom I uphold... I have put 
My spirit upon him... he will brinr forth Justice to the nations. 
He will not cry out or lift up his voice... a bruised reed he will 
not break and a burning wick he will not quench..." in other 
words, he will bring the rr.ercy and gentleness of God. These 
are the qualities of his essential nature which God had 
revealed. In the New Testament Luke is the evangelist of God's 
mercy and he alone fives us the inaugural sermon of Jesus in the 
syna£0£ue at Nazareth, making this the keynote of Jesus' whole 
mission: " The Spirit of the Lord is upon me... He has anointed 
me to preach £ood news to the poor... to proclaim release to the 
captives... recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty 
thDse who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the 
Lord. ' * (4) He sou£ht out the sinners, the outcasts, the seemingly 
hopeless . Even thou£h He showed His Just anrer and uttered harsh 
words at times , all was the overflow of his love and mercy in order to 
bring his people to repentance and to new life in God. 

In his encyclical, Dives in Misericordia, Pope John Paul ill writes: 

In and through Christ, then, God" also becomes especially 
visible in His mercy. Not only does He speak of it and explain it 
with the aid of comparisons and parables but, above all, He embodies 
and personifies It. He himself is, in a sense, the mercy of God. 
Those, therefore, who look for and find this quality in Him have 
God made visible to them in a special way as the Father who is 
'rich in mercy'. What is special about true mercy is that it 
discerns, fosters and elicits food from all forms of evil in the 
world and in human beings. Thus, understood, mercy is the central 
teaching in Christ's message and the power that explains His work. (5) 

The Pope shows how the outlook of many today, more than in the 
past, reveals resistance to a God of mercy, an attempt to deny him 
and to remove him from their hearts and from their lives. In these 
times this mystery of the God of mercy becomes a special appeal 
to the Church. People are in need of it even if at times they do 
not realize It. (6) 

The second aspect of this myst c ry of th D Incarnation is 
the heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Soiritual writers have 
always sai^ that she was prepared for this very special moment 
through h°r great integrity :;her "purity , faith. h c r openness In 
ever-' way to the power of the Holy Soirlt working in her, an open- 
ness to the Word of God through reading, listening, observing, and 
above all. her great charity. lf (7) Mary was one of 
the 'Poor of Yahweh ' , that faithful remnant in 

Israel which grew out of the Old Testament experience of God's 
action towards his people and the way he had taught them to respond. 
The attitude and response called for was one of humility, obedient 
surrender, faith and trust. Mary personified these virtues in an 
outstanding way, and God had decreed to show her his favor in a 
manner far beyond human comprehension. 


In Mary God always took the initiative, and she was able to 
believe with a faith similar to that of Abraham that out of her 
inviolate'virginity he would bring into the world the Word Incarnate 
who is Life itself. Mary is the one whom God sets before us 
to be our model, our guide, and especially our Mother. She is 
closer to us than we realize. She who was and is the 

Holy Spirit's perfect instrument to bring about the reign of 
peace and love of Christ (8) desires nothing - more than to co- 
operate with Him in forming within each an "incarnation of the 
Word--to be another humanity wherein he may renew his mystery", 
as Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity so eloquently expresses it. 
Mary was the one on whom Blessed Elizabeth gazed in order to live 
her religious life effectively by meditation on and assimilation 
of the Divine Word. ;, 3he is the living incarnation of a lovln' 
faith and she seeks to conform to herself the soul that contem- 
plates the divine source in order to transmit to her and through 
her to the entire world the beneficent graces of salvation. " ,^ 

At the Annunciation Mary was told hy the angel that her child 
would be called Son of the Most High because of the overshadowing 
of the Holy Spirit. As a true contemplative adored and obeyed. 
She opened her heart to the Spirit and conceived her Son and also 
his mystical members. She is the woman in whom the life of the 
Trinity is carried on, the woman who, through her existence, com- 
pels the divine mystery of the three Countenances to shine forth 
and be manifest. After Christy Mary is the contemplative par- 
excellence. She is the 

./.paradigm of apostolic activity in the 
Mystical Body, blending contemplation and action in authentic 
prayer without favoring one over the other, so that the two were 
expressions of the one same love in her heart. They are so unit- 
ed in her that they constitute one exemplary reality for anyone 
who, like her, is able to be present to the world with all Its 
problems by the simple fact of being completely possessed by God. (10) 

What is being asked of us today? We know very well that 
God has specific designs upon the world. To quote Pope Paul VI: great are the needs and perils of the present age, so vast 
the horizon, of mankind drawn toward world co-existence and power- 
less to achieve it, that there is no salvation for it except in 
a new outpouring of the Gift of God— the Creating Spirit, to 
renew the face of the earth. (11) 

We have now entered upon a special Marian Year and Pope John 
Paul II has issued a new encyclical, Redemotorls Mater , in which 
he beautifully points out that, "from the very first moment the 
Church 'looked at' Mary through Jesus just as she 'looked at' 
Jesus through Mary." (12) An official comment made when 
the encyclical was introduced expressed the reason for it in 
•this way: the Pope sees the Marian Year as not Just another 
Jubilee Year in her honor; that far from being a mere sentimental 
devotion it is meant to direct the Church as a dynamic impulse 
toward the future with, in, and through Mary, Mother of the Re- 
deemer, Mother of humankind and Mediatrix of divine grace, whose 
Intercession is special and extraordinary. He wishes to inter- 
pret the signs of the times in the light of faith and offer 


directlves for the Church and for humanity. He links together 
two scriptural passages which seem to have little in common: 
chapter 3 of Genesis, (the Proto-evangellum ) , and chapter 12 
of Revelation. This last book speaks expressly of the "sl^n 
of the Woman'who, at a determined moment of history, will rise up 
above it, to reconcile heaven and earth from that moment on- 
wards. This sign of the woman is the si£n of hope. Within 
our present historical moment the "sign of the Woman" is the 
essential "sign of the time". On the path indicated by this 
sign in the person of Mary we proceed in the footsteps of hope 
towards Christ, the Lord of history. (13) 

This Marian Pope asks us to deepen our awareness of her 
presence in the mystery of Christ and of the Church as Vatican 
Council II teaches, for by our knowledge of her and of the role 
she plays we will be more disposed to allow the Holv Spirit 
to prepare us for the eschatological Day. The life and work of 
Jesus Christ and his mother are indissolubly bound toqether. (14) 
We find all this confirmed in the statements of his predecessor, 
Pope Paul VI, especially in his Apostolic Exhortation, Marialis 
Cultus : 

The development of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, 
which We desire, is an indication of the Church's genuine 
piety. This devotion fits... into the only worship that 
is rightly called "Christian" , because it takes its origin 
and effectiveness from Christ, finds its complete expres- 
sion in Christ and leads through Christ in the Spirit to 
the Father. (15) 

Pope John Paul II has entrusted nations everywhere to the Immacu- 
late Heart of Mary to further the reign of Christ, and he prayed: 

Let there be revealed once more in the history of the 
world the infinite saving power of the redemption: the power 
of merciful love. May it put a stop to evil. May it trans- 
form consciences. May your Immaculate Heart reveal for all 
the light of hope. (16) 

The world needs to know more than ever that its God is a God of 
love and mercy. This is his message for it today as he makes clear. 
We are constantly exhorted to take refuge in His Heart, "for the 
Church most fully proclaims and venerates God's mercy when she 
does so, and when v.e approach Christ in the mystery of His Heart 
we are able to contemplate most fully this central reality which 
is at the same time especially accessible at the human level: I 
mean the revelation of the Father's merciful love which it was 
the main purpose of the Son in His Messianic mission to bring. M 
The Pope also reminds us that when Christ revealed .the, loving 
mercy of God, He required his followers to make 
love and mercy the inspiring force in their lives. '(17) 
This is the power humanity needs and He alone is its source. 
"Come to me with Your sweet power, Your power that knows no 
eventide." (18) 

Near the end of R edemptor Homlnls the Holy Father writes; 
Prayer above all is needed for the Church's success and I ask 


that it be intense, with Mary and the disciples in the Upper 

Room in Jerusalem, awaiting the new Advent, the new Pentecost. (19) 

The new Advent is here — the "Great Marian Advent" being proclaim- 
ed in the Church to the year 2000. (20) Each day God becomes 
Incarnate for us. "Ee born in us, Incarnate Word..." (Caryll 
Houselander) To quote John Paul II arain, 

. .As the Church carries 
on the magnificent work of implementing the Second Vatican Council- 
a work in which we rightly see a nev* phase in the self-realization 
of the Church in response to the needs of our time- she must be 
constantly guided by the consciousness that in this work she may 
not turn in upon herself. I raise ray voice in prayer that at 
this point in history, the love which is in the Father may once 
again be revealed and may, through the power of the Son and the 
Holy Spirit, manifest its presence in the contemporary world and 
prove mightier than any evil, sin, and death. This I pray for 
through my intercession of her who still proclaims 'mercy .. .from 
age to age . ' (21) 


(1) Summa of the Christian Life, Vol. 3, Trans, by Jordan Auraann, O.P. 
(St. Louis: Herder & Herder, 1954-58) See Chapter 5, "A Work 

of Mercy and Love." 

(2) Henry Wansbrough, Scripture for Meditation . ""The Incarnation" 
(New York: Alba House 1975) 

(3) John Paul II, Encyclical Letter D ives in Hlserlcordla . (English 
Edition of L'Osservatore Romano, December 9, 1930) , 

Section 111, 4 

(4) Isaiah 61: 1-2. This paragraph is based on Wansbrough. 

(5) Dives in Mlserlcordla , Section I, 2: IV, 6 

(6) Same. Section I, 2 

(7) Laurence Justinian, St.., Sermon 8, Feast of the Purification 
of the Blessed Virgin Mary . 

(8) This is the teaching especially of Sts . Louis de Montf ort and 
Maximilian Kolbe. See True Devotion to the Elessed Virgin , 
( Eayshore , N .Y . ,Montfort Publications 1985) and H. Mantiau- 
Eonamy, Immaculate Conception and the Holy Spirit , (Liberty- 
ville, Illinois: Franciscan l-'arytown Press 1977.) St. Maximilian 
Kolbe's basic discovery was:""ary the Immaculata is the 
chief visible manifestation of the Holy Spirit's presence 
in the Church, and the universal Instrument of the Spirit's 
mission to unite all men to Christ our Savior." This book 


is the best source in in£lish so far on the Saint's teaching". 

(9) Luigi Eorriello, O.C.D., Spiritual Doctrine of Flossed Eliz- 
abeth of the Trinity . Trans, by Jordan Aurr.ann, .P . [New York: 
Alba House, 1986) 

(10) Same 

(11) Gaudete in Domino , VII, 1975. This was also quoted in a 
most interesting book, The Spirit and the Erlde Say Come , 
(AMI Fress, Asbury , N.J., 1951 ) , by Gerald J. Farrell, M.M., 
and George W. Kosicki, C.S.B. It deals with the working 

of the Spirit in Mary and her promise of the triumph of her 
Immaculate Heart and why they believe it will be accomplished 
shortly . 

(12) Section II, 26 

(13) It is interesting to note that these themes in Genesis and 
Revelation on the battle between the Woman and the forces 

of evil have surfaced in a particularly notable way in the last 
century. She cane with a saving message in her appearances 
to St. Catherine Laboure in 1S30 and gave her the miraculous medal 
which contained the Inmaculate Conception ejaculation (reminiscent of Gen- 
esis 3). Thus she preceded the most powerful firce of evil 
to come upon the modern world: Marxism expressed in atheistic 
communism which was inaugurated in 1848 with the "Communist 
Manifesto.* She warned humanity of its sins in 1849 at 
LaSalette. In 1854 the DorTa of the Immaculate Conception 
was proclaimed. In 1858 she declared at Lourdes, "I am the 
Immaculate Conception.' 1 Then followed a series of notable 
apparitions: Pontmain (1871), Pellevoisln (1876), Knock (1879), 
Fatlma (1917) in the year of the Russian Revolution. Four 
days after the miracle of October 13, St. yaximilian Kolbe 
founded his "Kniphts of the Immaculata" to combat the forces of 
evil under her patronage in order to bring about the reign of the Sacred Heart 
of Jesus. In 1932-3 3be caTe to c eaurain£, to Ranneux (1933). 
In 194-5 Pope Pius XII proclaimed our Lady of Guadalupe "Patron- 
ess of the Americas". She appeared here as the "Immaculate 
Conception and the Woman Clothed with the Sun." In 1947 came 
the appearance at Tre-Fontarme , Italy, where she said, "I am 
the Virgin of Revelation." Thousands of Christians and "'oslems 
watched the apparitions at Zeitoun, Cairo, in 1968. There 
is £reat evidence to support the visions at Garabandal (1961), 
Nicaragua, (1981), and I-'edupor Je , (1981 to the present), but 
they need further processing by Church authorities. She has also 
inspired the founding of the "Legion of Mary", the "Blue Army", 
and other organizations to work for her cause. 

(14) "Since devotion to the Mother of God is part of our Faith 
and not merely a pious addition, it follows that her name 
should be constantly on our lips and love of her consistently 
in our hearts. At the same time that devotion should be 
authentic, devoid of pious exasperation and theologically 
based." (James Cardinal Freeman, Archbishop of Sydney, at 
the Karion Congress in Sydney, Sept., 1976). 


(15) Pope Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus , Feb. 2, 
1974. Introduction 

(16) John Paul II, Act of Entrustment of the World to the Immac- 
ulate Heart of Mary , March 25, 1984 

(17) Dives In Mlserlcordla , Sections VII, 3; II, 3 

(18) John Paul II, Homily of the Installation Mass , (English 
Edition of L'Osservatore Romano, October, 1978). 

(19) A reference to the Holy Father's frequent Marian talks. 

(20) Mission of the Immaculata Bulletin , (Libertyvllle, Illinois: 
Franciscan Marytown Press, October, 1986). The Holy Father 
recently said, "the Marian Year is being celebrated during 
the period of preparation of the Church and of humanity for 
the year 2000 from the birth of Christ. If the first coming 
was preceded by Advent, now too we feel the need for a new 
advent. If during the first Advent there shone on the hori- 
zon of Salvation history the Morning Star which precedes the 
rising of the Sun of Justice and Grace-— .Mary , before the 
coming of Christ— it must now shine once again. .. (Homily 

given at Mass at the Shrine of Jasna Gora in Poland, June, 1987) 

(21) Dives in Mlserlcordla, Section VIII, 15 



Sr. M. Giuseppina, OP 
Holy Rosary Monastery 
Marino, Italy 

"In his eyes I have found peace." (Sg of Sg 8:10b) 

"The Church's reflection today on the mystery of Christ and on her own 
nature has led her to find at the root of the former and as a culmination of 
the latter the same figure of a Woman: the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Christ 
and the Mother of the Church... As in every home, the figure of a Woman, who 
in a hidden manner and in a spirit of service watches over the Family and 
carefully looks after it until the glorious day of the Lord." (Paul VI, 
Mar ial is Cul tis , Introduction) 

Here is the figure of a woman, very humble and silent, who does not seem 
to have accomplished more that what is common to every woman: to be a mother. 
This person is with Christ at the center of the Church, at the center of a 
history marked by God's presence and the history of human salvation. 

Catherine spoke of this woman, a young mother from the common people: 
"Mary, redemptrix of the human race, because you bore in your flesh the Word 
who redeemed the world .. .Mary , the fruitful earth,... you bore the fire hidden 
and veiled under the ashes of your humanity." 

These are surely bold and unique images, but ones that reveal a reality 
from which every person draws life. It is a reality which no on can fail to 
consider, much less we Dominicans who spread abroad the light that comes from 
the "fire" which is Christ. We are announcers of the Word who is Christ. 

The necessary presence of Mary is a presence of hope, not a project of 
vague aspirations, but of life. It is a lived and living presence of gentle 
strength. Peguy writes of this difficult virtue with poetic imagery: "Eternity 
in the hollow of your hand." Eternity is the ultimate and definitive beatitude, 
the indestructible vision and possession of God. Hope is the eternity of a 
saved humanity reconciled with God by Christ. This eternity was offered to 
human beings from the hands of Mary. Her motherly hands had carried Christ, 
the Mediator, the Savior. 

The first sign of hope, the first announcement of a new humanity, is 
Mary the Mother. And she, with Christ, is the distinctive sign of the 
Dominican Family. 

When we are more distanced from the juridical expression of "Order", we 
will reacquire more fully our true and primitive dimension of Family. We will 
find ourselves necessarily gathered around this gentle figure of the young 
woman who is the Mother of Christ. We are consecrated to the Word of God so 
that he might be pondered, praised and proclaimed. 

*This article is Chapter 28 of The Sweet Call of the Turtledove (Naples: Editrice 
Domenicana Italiana, 1987). and translated by Sister Mary Jefemiah, O.P. (Lufkin) 
See book review on p, 73 


This is neither a novelty nor a fad. It is what was living in the 
spirit of St. Dominic. Therefore, it is at the source of our life as a 
Family that, from the fullness of the contemplation of Christ-Truth, we 
find the strength for the apostolate, for evangelization. 

An ancient document ( The Nine Ways of Prayer of St. Dominic ) relates 
that when St. Dominic wanted to teach his brethren to pray he sometimes 
told them: "The Magi, these three holy kings, found the Infant with Mary, 
his Mother .. .Now, we too, must find the God -Man with Mary." The Word of 
God, the reason for our being preachers, is Christ still living and active 
in history and in the life of every person. His presence is living as the 
presence of His Mother is living and active. This feminine presence was so 
dear to St. Dominic that he wanted to perpetuate it in time. He associated 
the hidden, humble, silent, but attentive and loving life of the nuns to 
the work of preaching. Like Mary they keep vigil, like Mary they pray, like 
Mary they intercede, like Mary they are a sign of hope because they are a 
proclamation of salvation. 

This presence cannot be missing from the Dominican Family. It is not 
accidental, added by chance. It is a necessity of life just as a mother is 
necessary in the life of every human family, just as a Mother was mysteri- 
ously necessary in the life of Christ the Savior. We who are already collab- 
orating in the work of the apostles of our tine make the spirit of this Mother 
relive in the spirit of service, vigilant love, goodness that follows and 
protects at every step, that shares every pain, every difficulty as well as 
every success. As Mary accepted Christ who is the gift of God (and she did 
not stop at this), so we, although in the monastery, are not just to accept 
him but to make a gift of ourselves at the same time, just as Mary made a 
gift of herself to God, to Christ, to all people. The way of new hope 
opened by Mary bears the sign of the Cross. She continued on to the Cross 
in silence, offering her Son, the dearest and most intimate part of herself, 
to the Father. 

Enclosure, silence, poverty, suffering peacefully accepted, joyously 
welcomed in body as well as in spirit: these are essential parts of our 
Marian and Dominican life as nuns. 

The penitential moment of our life as nuns and as Dominicans goes beyond 
a "practice of mortification". It is lived in the certainty of faith. 

In the introduction to our book of Constitutions we read: "Look at the 
Cross of Christ, which one of our first friars called the Book of Charity , in 
it are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. It is the Cross that 
introduces us into the mystery of God in which one never ceases to search and 
which is the source of our apostolate. It is the contemplation of the Cross 
of Christ that will make you authentic Dominican nuns." 

Will we be there alone? 

"Near the cross was the Mother of Jesus. There is our place, in the act 
of interceding for the salvation of all." 


With Mary. It is important for us nuns to-be-with-Mary . Peguy again 
writes of her (I don't believe the citation will be annoying): 

To her who intercedes, 

The only one who can speak with the authority of a mother... 

To her who is infinitely rich. 

Because she is also infinitely poor... 

To her who is infinitely great. 

Because she is infinitely small. 

Infinitely humble. 

A young mother 

To her who is all Greatness and all Faith. 

Because she is also all Charity. 

To her who is all Faith and all Charity. 

Because she is also all HOPE. 

(the portico of the mystery of the second virtue, 
pp. 46-47) 

She taught us this boundless hope on Calvary when she offered with Christ 
the "evening sacrifice so that from then on no one would miss the last call of 
evening, and each sheep would find the gate of the sheepfold, each person the 
Father's house". 

Our evening song addressed to her who is "our hope" is not only a nice 
Dominican tradition, a peaceful way to close the day. It is an authentic act 
of faith in her, because she always stirs up hope, because she always inter- 
cedes for us. Because even if it is night, she helps us to guide people to 
the Father. She, 

the Mother of the Good Shepherd... 
To her who intercedes 
Because she is blessed among women. 
( Ibid ., pp. 50-51) 

y^je, truly 

"bisBBsd. xb jel}F uiijn belt^UEd"! 

alj^Be uwrdja, 

japaken by Elizabeth after tlje Annunciation, 

Ijsre at tljc font of tl)E (Crnjaja 

jBEra tu re-eclja uiitlj jaupreme eluquencE 

Jrom iljE (TrnjajB, 
tljat ijb to Bay from tlje uery IjEart 
nf tljE myjatsry of Redemption, 
tljere radiates and fipreadja nut 
tlje prospect nf tljat blessing of faitlj. 



Sister Maria Agnes, O.P. 

AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO: A Biographical Sketch 

Every student of Church history knows Augustine of Hippo, the greatest 
of the fifth century founders of Christian Europe. It was Augustine who made 
a definitive synthesis of ancient culture, Platonic philosophy and Christianity. 
This was to become normative for the whole Middle Ages and, in many ways, for 
the Church of all ages. 

Augustine was student, teacher, scholar, theologian, writer, preacher, 
bishop, administrator, contemplative, monastic founder and saint. His life 
covers that period when the old Greco-Roman world was crumbling before the 
onslaught of barbarians. This is well described in his philosophical work, 
The City of God , by which he traces God's ruling hand in human history. 
Augustine was born in Tagaste (now Souk-Ahras) in North Africa (the modern 
Algeria) on November 13, 354. By that time, the Church was spreading among 
the pagans. Augustine was not baptized as a child and he did not become an 
active Christian during his youth. His father, Patricius Herculus, was a 
pagan. Augustine's mother, Monica, was instrumental in the conversion of both 
father and son to Christianity. The moving account of Augustine's conversion 
is recorded in his Confessions . 

North Africa was then a western province of the old Roman Empire. Hippo 
(the modern Bone), was just across the Mediterranean from Rome. Augustine 
grew up, lived and died in a Latin culture. At the age of 12, he studied 
grammar and literature in Madaura, a town south of Tagaste. He studied 
rhetoric in Carthage (now Tunis), at the age of 17. For nine years in 
Carthage, Augustine became involved in Manicheism. (1) 

In 383, Augustine went to Milan after a brief sojourn in Rome. In Milan, 
he taught rhetoric and there met a group of scholars who introduced him to 
Platonic philosophy. Milan was the bishopric of Ambrose who baptized 
Augustine on April 14, 387. 

Augustine returned to Africa in 388, became a priest in 391 and then 
bishop of Hippo from 395 until the time of his death. Administration, 
ecclesiastical discipline and religious controversies made heavy demands on 
his time as bishop. The Church of Roman Africa had a troubled history from 
the very beginning. There were Roman persecutions in the second and third 
centuries, Donatism in the fourth, and Pelagianism in the fifth century. 
The Arian heresy was brought to Africa by the Vandals who came from Spain in 
the fifth century. (2) 

Augustine died before the siege of Hippo ended fatally, on August 
28, 430. 



Augustine had great influence on monasticism. First of all, the Sacred 
Scriptures formed his life of prayer, study, writing and preaching. There 
was the passion for truth in his intellect, enduring and practical love in his 
heart. For Augustine, the heart is God's altar and the source of wholeness 
in a person. (3) It is also a battlefield where God's mysterious actions meet 
with the human person's free decisions. The heart determines the human 
personality. Augustine's spirituality was rooted in love, united to faith 
and hope and perfected in wisdom (2 Tim 1:13). In the realm of theology, 
Augustine drew on Neoplatonic philosophy in order to explain the gradual move- 
ment of the human person from the material to the spiritual, and from the 
temporal to the eternal. He gave the same formation to his followers. 

Before his conversion, Augustine, in the company of his mother and some 
friends, made a quasi-monastic retreat in Cassiciacum, near Milan, during the 
part of the year 386 and until his baptism in 387. They formed one household 
and shared their possessions in common. After Monica's death, Augustine 
returned to Africa and established his first monastery in the parental home. 
For three years he and his followers lived for God alone in prayer, fasting 
and good works, while meditating on the Scriptures day and night. He founded 
another monastery in Hippo after his priestly ordination. As bishop, he 
established a monastery of clerics in his episcopal residence. This house 
became a formation center for monks and bishops. The monastic practices in 
Augustine's monasteries were the traditional ones: silence, communal and 
personal prayer, humility, penance, poverty, celibacy, obedience and service, 
but the emphasis was always on unity and love. (4) 


In 423, Augustine was asked to serve as peacemaker for a convent of nuns 
which he had founded in Hippo, and over which his sister had been superior for 
almost 25 years. After her death, conflict developed between the nuns and the 
new superior. Augustine wrote them a letter in which he recommended, above all 
things, a shared vision, focused on God. The unique value of this letter lies 
in the realism and wisdom with which Augustine considered the human condition 
through faith, hope and love. 

Augustine gives the message of Jesus in its full biblical sense. All the 
precepts in this letter are resonant of Luke 6:27, "To you who are listening 
to me, I say, love!"; and the brief commentary on John 13:35, "By this all men 
will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another". In 
Jesus, the human person loves God and is loved by him. Love of God is 
inseparable from love of neighbor. In loving the other, one loves the Lord 
himself since all together form one body, Christ. This love expresses itself 
in humility, poverty, service, mercy, forgiveness, authority, obedience, and 
the multiple nuances of friendship like trust, welcome, gentleness, respect 
and generosity. (5) Love, by its very nature, is totally demanding. 


No Christian community ever reaches perfection here on earth. In the 
gospels we can learn with what kindness Jesus admonished his disciples in 
their jealousies, quarrels, prejudices and wrong ideas on who he is. Pride, 
greed, envy, anger and disobedience can disfigure the beauty of community 
life, but the gospel proclaims that love has the first and the last word. 
For Augustine, the monastic life is already giving witness to this quest 
as the nuns journey to God in oneness of mind and heart; it is precisely 
for this reason that they have come to live together. (6) 

The message of Letter 211 is ancient and is rooted in Scripture. It 
is new and has living permanence because the spirit of Jesus renews and 
re-creates new hearts (2 Cor 3:6). Letter 211 was to become the basis for 
the famous Rule of St. Augustine. (7) 


St. Dominic and the early friars chose the Rule of St. Augustine for 
their life and mission. To this Rule, the Dominicans added particular 
customs and observances. The Dominican nuns, founded in 1206, adopted the 
same Rule, then already revised, in 1257. The particular charism of 
Dominican monasticism is formulated in the Book of the Constitutions of the 
Nuns of the Order of Preachers. (8) 

The Rule is divided into eight short chapters. In this paper, four 
basic themes will be drawn up. We shall leave out those elements that are 
limited by a particular cultural context, and select those that are rooted 
in Scripture and have perennial value. The Rule offers a message to a world 
that is caught up in the pursuit of affluence, sex and power. This message 
is proclaimed in silence through the monastic vows of poverty, chastity and 
obedience. The daily rhythm of monastic life - liturgical and private 
prayer, solitude and community, enclosure and hospitality, silence and 
chapter, study and prayerful reading, work and leisure - points to the 
primacy and unity of God. 


"Among you there can be no question of personal property. Rather, take 
care that you share everything in common — Those who owned possessions in 
the world should readily agree that, from the moment they enter religious 
life, these things become the property of the community." (9) 

Love begins with sharing what one has: material goods, productive skills, 
knowledge and talents. Non-ownership and the sharing of goods are the first 
steps in cleansing the inside of the cup (Mt 23:36). It is an outward sign 
of the unity in love which is described in Acts 4:32. Voluntary poverty is 
the freedom from the domination of created things. It is also the art of 
using things in a spirit of joy and tranquillity, for what is joy if not the 
giving up of all that one has in exchange for that pearl of great price 
(Mt 19:10-11)? 


A nun, however i has given nothing to God and to the community unless 
she has given herself. When St. Paul writes of the generosity of the 
Christians in Macedonia, lie observed that "first they gave themselves to 
the Lord" (2Cor 8:5). Poverty involves interdependence and service of one 
another. It also means experiencing need and limitation and allowing oneself 
to be carried by others. (10) 

The contemplative finds Christ hidden in her daily chores as well as in 
special projects that demand intellectual culture. In poverty of heart she 
seeks Christ everywhere, like the bride in the Song of Songs, "I found him 
whom my soul loves" (3:4). In work, the spiritual is perceived in poverty, 
humility and love after the example of Christ who said, "As you did it to 
one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me" (Mt 25:40). In her 
daily work, therefore, the nun is imaging the poor Christ (Mt 13:55). 
Although Jesus warns us against too much anxiety about productivity and the 
consumer mentality (Mt 6:25-34), he has appreciation and love for human work. 
Jesus sees in every type of work an aspect of the human person's likeness to 
God (Jn 15:1). Augustine and other monastic writers have pointed out that it 
is better for monks and nuns to earn their livelihood by their labors and thus 
share the lot of the poor rather than wholly depend on alms and donations. 
To be fully supported by public alms belong to the feeble and disabled. 

Over and above these considerations, the primacy of the human person over 
material goods is the consistent teaching of the gospel and the Church. The 
nun must be made to understand that in her daily work, she is earning her keep. 
This awareness is extinguished when a person is made to feel that she is a 
mere instrument of production. (11) The intention behind all this is that no 
one in the monastery shall seek her own advantage in work. Everything is to 
be done for the common good. When hopes, efforts and goals are shared, work 
brings unity of mind and heart. (12) 

Humility is linked with poverty. The humble person recognizes the fact 
that she has received all from God (1 Cor 4:7). The person who truly seeks God 
is both poor and humble (Zeph 2:3). Pride, the source of all sins, is deeply 
entrenched in human nature. Pride, according to Augustine, militates 
against all good works; it demeans the giver and the gift loses its value. (13) 
The most generous deed is not always a sign of true Christian presence.. If 
a person gives away all that she has and distributes her property, but has no 
love, her deed has no value (1 Cor 13:3). A person is neither her possessions 

nor her generous act but her true self, her being. 


The first book in the Bible gives the blessing for fertility (Gen 1:28) 
as well as the charter on marriage (Gen 2:24). The marriage blessing was 
not revoked after the Fall. Human salvation was promised through childbirth. 
This was fulfilled in Mary, the perfect virgin who was so completely mother 
that the virgin Messiah was born of her alone. Before Mary's time, however, 
Hosea, Jeremiah, Ezekicl, David and Solomon developed the theme of spiritual 
marriage between God and Israel, and then between God and the human soul. 
The fruits of chaste love are even more manifest in the gospel. An example 


of this is Anna who consecrated the chastity of her widowhood in prayer, 
fasting and vigils for the sake of Jesus (Lk 2:36-37). Christ himself gave 
celibate love a deeper meaning, "Not all men can receive this precept, but 
only those to whom it is given" (Mt 19:11-12). 

The celibate, then, is called by name. Consecrated chastity is both a 
gift and a renunciation. Its true motive is to image Christ by belonging 
completely to him. With Christ, the religious will not be lonely for the 
Father is also with her (Jn 16:32). She has the fellowship and love of her 
Sisters in the community. Through friendship and reciprocal love, the nuns 
grow in fidelity to this love for Christ. (14) 

Augustine, who had painfully experienced in himself the demands and the 
limitations of human nature could thus give this practical advice: "You cannot 
say that your inner attitude is good if with your eyes you desire to possess a 
man, for the eye is the herald of the heart". Elsewhere, Augustine refines 
this point: "Look upon the beauty of your lover... let him who was fastened to 
the cross be securely fastened to your hearts". (15) This choice certainly 
involves a sacrifice which affects the very depths of the human personality. 
For this reason, commitment by vows is to be guided by prudence, maturity and 
above all, by faith. Here is Augustine again: "God does not command the 
impossible but tells us to do what we can, and pray for what we are not able, 
and he will help us to accomplish it". God alone is the master of his gifts. 
No one else more than Augustine has taught the importance of humility in the 
faithful keeping of the vow. He recommends prayer "lest this gift be 
plundered by pride". (16) 

The Rule also exhorts with resepct to modesty in dress and behaviour. 
The nuns are not to be concerned with externals in order to attract attention. 
However, no one can underestimate the significance of clothes in terms of 
necessity, modesty, protection, hygience, femininity and identity value for 
religious women. (17) Clothing protects the private and interior life of a 
person (Gen 3:21). The Dominican religious habit expresses the type of life 
lived in the Church and in the community (Dt 21:10-14) as well as the history 
of that life. It is also a visible sign of consecration to Christ. 

Augustine gives practical advice on the care and discipline of the body. 
(18) In Scripture, the flesh signifies the human person in a state of finite- 
ness and fragility (Jn 1:14). When regarded as the dominating principle of 
life, the flesh can tyrannize the person with its prerogatives and demands 
(Rom 7:25). It is in Christ and with Christ alone that the human person can 
conquer sin and death with that very flesh (Rom 8:3). 

The body in itself is the visible expression of the human person, a 
member of Christ (Rom 6:15), the temple of the Holy Spirit (Rom 6:19) and 
will rise again to immortality (1 Cor 6:14). For these reasons, the religious 
is destined to give glory to God by means of her bodiliness through prayer, 
fasting and good works in chaste love (Rom 6:20). These aspects of her 
identification with Christ are at the heart of her vow of chastity. 



Authority is fundamental in religious life. Authority comes from God, 
and it is given in view of the common good (Rom 13:1). The Prioress, first 
among equals, is at once leader, friend and companion. The Rule presses this 
point, "Your superior must not think herself fortunate in having power over 
you but in the love with which she shall serve you". (19) This is an echo of 
Paul's teaching: "We are gentle among you, like a nurse taking care of her 
children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share 
with you not only the gospel of Christ but also our own self because you have 
become very dear to us" (1 Thess 2:7-8). 

Unity depends on the quality of leadership and on the Prioress 1 own loving 
obedience to Christ. The Prioress devotes herself to the Sisters in order that 
they in turn might be able to give themselves wholly to Christ, to the Church 
and to the Order in a life of contemplation. Both she who commands and she 
who obeys are following Christ, in the context of dialogue coming from the same 
source, God's will (Jn 4:34). The Prioress and the Sisters meet regularly for 
discussion, discernment and decision. The Prioress, who ordinarily presides at 
these meetings, unifies the insights and opinions of the Sisters before making 
a decision. She, being the least of all, bears the whole burden of the group's 
unified action when she makes the final decision. The Sisters, therefore, owe 
their Prioress respect and loving obedience because of the great responsibility 
entrusted to her. (20) 

The Prioress herself should give example of fidelity to the ideals of 
Dominican contemplative life (Titus 2:7). She should counsel and direct those 
who violate these ideals, and the Sisters must be docile to prudent and whole- 
some direction. The right motive for correction is compassion for the sinner and 
the imperfect. The ultimate persuasion lies in the love of Christ, because he 
alone can comfort the human heart and confirm it in every good work. (21) 

Christ is not only the Lord to whom obedience is due; he is also the Son 
who obeys his Father and by his obedience redeems the world (Jn 4:34). Christ 
obeyed his Father by submitting to Mary and Joseph, to the spiritual and civil 
leaders and the circumstances of his earthly life. Christ is the example of the 
religious who vows obedience to God; "If you would be my disciple, deny yourself, 
take up your cross and follow me" (Mk 8:34; Lk 9:23). 

Hebrews 13:17 is the typical text on obedience to superiors; "Obey your 
leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls as men 
who will have to give account. Let them do this joyfully, and not sadly, for 
that would be of no advantage to you". Without faith and love, obedience is a 
dead weight. The obedience of Jesus enables the religious to find the will of 
the Father in the depths of her heart, in Sacred Scripture, the Rule and 
Constitutions, through her superiors, the community and in human events. (22) 
Through obedience the religious surrenders to the community her exclusive claim 
on self. She is freed from inner compulsions by yielding to the judgment of 
another or of others. 


The Rule also describes the field of tension between danger and 
authority; "The higher the position a person holds, the greater the danger 
she is in". Obedience, therefore, is an act of love for oneself and an act 
of mercy towards the superior. Authority and obedience go hand in hand in 
the context of faith and mutual love. (23) 


"Persevere faithfully in prayer at the hours and times appointed" . 
Two of the four marks of the early Church bore on fidelity to prayer. 
"They devoted themselves to the Apostles' teachings and fellowship, to the 
breaking of bread and the prayers". (24) The Apostles also prayed at the 
specified times, namely, the sixth and ninth hours. 

The psalms were prayed and lived by Jecus. Anyone who is formed by 
the praying of the psalms will receive the true good from God, and with that 
good, she receives God himself. The Rule states this meaningfully; "When 
you pray to God in psalms and songs, the words spoken by your lips should 
also be alive in your hearts". (25) The monastic community is also a 
eucharistic community which meets daily to celebrate, to share the one cup 
and the one bread that forms the members into one body. (26) 

Much of the nun's prayer, however, is experienced in solitude, after the 
example of Jesus who freguently went out into quiet places to pray to the 
Father in his heart. Personal prayer is not an isolated experience. The 
content of all prayer is a love relationship with a person who was, who is 
and who will always be faithful, the God of love. In prayer, the nun puts 
her desire before God (Ps 3:9). Desire itself is prayer, says St. Augustine, 
and if desire is continuous, the prayer becomes unceasing. (27) The leitmotif 
of the nun's prayer is rooted in diverse situations of human life. The 
contemplative considers the purpose of God's plan, his kingdom, and the 
fulfillment of his will. A contemplative ' s own inner search for God must 
coincide with the world's search for peace, justice and love. Through her 
intercession, the nun enters into human history while her whole being is poised 
toward eternity. (28) 

Living attitudes of prayer come from the heart. In the heart, all 
counterfeits are unmasked. The contemplative risks her heart to meet the 
radical demands of community life (Jer 30:21). Prayer is united to mercy and 
forgiveness. One must be able to say that she forgives from the heart whenever 
she prays the Our Father. (29) Fasting, also joined to prayer, is an act 
of humility before God. True fasting is the fasting of faith, the absence 
of the beloved and the ceaseless search for him (Song of Songs 5:6-8). 
Scripture also says that the Christian must bear in his own body the pains 
and sufferings of Christ and thus give witness to his life. The person who 
fasts does not put her trust on the flesh but on Christ's passion, death and 
resurrection. Like prayer, fasting is inseparable from caring and sharing. 
There is no denying the fact that the community and the world outside give 
the social dimension for experiencing God in one's personal prayer. Active 
works of love like almsgiving are a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to 
God (Col 3:23-24). Through this sacrifice, the world becomes part of the 
nuns* unbroken prayer (I Thess 5:17). 


The final challenge of the Rule is to live out the monastic life faith- 
fully. A closing remark on fidelity can be drawn from Augustine's Sermon 
on I John 9.9 . He links the desire for spiritual beauty with the joy of 
contemplative and lived prayer. We shall come to possess spiritual beauty 
by loving Christ who surpasses everyone in beauty. In her life, the nun is 
imaging Christ, who, for the sake of others became a man of sorrows, without 
looks of beauty to attract human eyes (Is 53:2-3). Likewise, the religious 
shall come to possess beauty by fidelity to him because love is the beauty 
of the soul. Augustine, therefore, urges the consecrated religious: 
"Walk confidently in Christ* walk, do not stumble, do not fall, do not 
look back, do not stop on the way, do not take another path". 


(1) The Manicheans were followers of Manes, a Persian (third century A.D.^ 
who taught a religion which claimed two supreme deities, the god of 
good and the god of evil, in radical opposition to each other. 

(2) Donatism was a schism in the North African Church based on the belief 
that sacraments conferred by unworthy ministers are invalid. 
Pelagianism held that original sin was not transmitted through Adam 
and that personal salvation is possible through human effort alone. 
The Arian heresy claimed that the Son of God was not of the same 
nature as God the Father, which means that Jesus Christ is not truly 

(3) The City of God , 10.3 

(4) Confessions , 6.14; Possidius, Life of St. Augustine, Bishop, 3.5,11; 
Augustine, Sermon 355; See Pierre Mandonnet, St. Dominic and His 
Work , p. I98f. 

(5) Echoes of Mk 28:33; Mt 18:35; 25:40; Jn 17:21; Rom 12:5-10; 
Gal 5:15; Eph 4:1-6; I Cor 13:1-13 

(6) Rule , 1.1 

(7) Mandonnet, pp. 195-290 

(8) See Simon Tugwell, Early Dominicans , pp. 456-465 

(9) Rule , 1.3 & 4; cf. 2 Cor 8:9; Mt 8:20; See Adaptation and Renewal 
of Religious Life , 13 


(10) Rule , V 

(11) John Paul II, On Human Work , 71 

(12) Rule , V.2; See Augustine, On the Manual Labor of Monks , 25.32 

(13) Rule , 1.7; cf. John Cassian, Institutes . IV. 35 

(14) Dogmatic Constitution on the Church , 42 

(15) Rule , IV. 3-5; Augustine, On Holy Virginity , 16.55 

(16) Of Nature and Grace , 43.50; ®n Holy Virginity , 43.51 

(17) Rule , IV. 1-3 

(18) Rule , III.l 

(19) Rule , VII. 3; A paraphrase of Lk 23;25-26 and of Mt 25;28; 
cf. Gal 5; 13 

(20) Rule , VII. 4 

(21) Rule , IV. 10; cf. 2 Thess 2:17 

(22) Echoes of Phil 2:5-8; cf. 2 Cor 8:9; See Dogmatic Constitution 

on the Church , 42; Also Adaptation and Renewal of Religious Life , 14 

(23) Rule , VII. 4; See the text alluded to in Sir 30:24 

(24) Rule , II. 1; The typical texts are in Acts 2:14, 42, 46; 4:24; 10:9; 
Col 4:2 

(25) Rule , II. 3; cf. Mt 26:30 

(26) Cf . I Cor 10:16-17; See Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy , 12 

(27) Sermon 80.7 

(28) See the text alluded to in Mt 9:35-38 

(29) Rule, VI. 1 S, 2; an echo of Wis 12:19 



St. Augustine. The Rule of St. Augustine , trans, by Raymond Canning, 

intro. and commentary by Tarcisius J. van Bavel. London: Darton, 
Longman and Todd, 1984. 

Chabannes, Jacques. Saint Augustine , trans, by Julie Kernans. New York: 
Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1962. 

Leon-Dufour, Xavier, ed. Dictionary of Biblical Theology . New York: 
Seabury Press, 1973. 

Mandonnet, Pierre. St. Dominic and His Work , trans by Sr. M. B. Larkin. 
St. Louis: B. Herder Book Co., 1944. 

Tugwell, Simon, ed. Early Dominicans . New York: Paulist Press, 1982. 



We hail thee on this joyous day, 
Oh Mary, flower of Israel, 
On which the Word of God took flesh, 
And came within thy womb to dwell. 

We greet thee in thy setting forth, 
Thy cousin Elizabeth to greet; 
How fair thy youthful virgin form, 
Thy lightsome step, thy hastening feet. 

Thou bearest on thy joyful way, 

The Savior blest, Immanuel , 

Whose advent brings redemption's day, 

And springtide unto Israel . 

The earth in festive robe adorned, 
Rejoicing greets her hidden Lord, 
By whom the lot of man forlorn, 
To primal grace shall be restored. 

Elizabeth now hears thy voice, 
And by the Spirit's light divine, 
Proclaims anew thy blessedness: 
The grace and glory which are thine. 

When lo! her child as yet unborn, 
Reveals the Bridegroom's presence nigh: 
John leaps within his mother's womb, 
To greet the Son of God most high. 

He is himself the herald sent, 
This very Bridegroom to proclaim, 
And now, with bonds of nature rent, 
Still voiceless, he tells forth His name. 

And then, thy heart like tuneful lyre, 
Breaks forth in strains of sweetest song; 
Enkindled by the Spirit's fire 
It echoes through the ages long. 

We too, this canticle shall sing, 
To magnify the Lord with thee; 
To whom alone be glory given, 
Both now and in eternity. 

Sister Mary Rose Dominic of Jesus, O.P 




St. Mary Elizabeth, O.P. 
Monastery of St. Dominic 

Incredible as it sounds, some two thousand classified articles and books 
have been devoted to the poet Gerard Kanley Hopkins and his work. '• Vfoy, then, 
am I daring to add to this formidable corpus? All these learned folk had some- 
thing to say, some new light to shed on this remarkable man, whereas I, a 
recent convert to Hopkinsianism have nothing new to contribute. In fact, it is 
not my aim to be original, but only to Introduce the poet's work to those who 
have not yet come across it, I have acquired information which I long to share 
with others, in order to brine; them also into the orbit of this great spirit- 
ual poet, whose genius has been slowly, but surely, coming to the fore. "Hopkins' 
position as a major figure in English literature seems secure. "% declares the 
Catholic Encyclopedia, a sober witness, not given to hyperbole. 

Gerard's output was comparatively small, but the depth, intensity and 
richness of his work, especially his later work, brings him into the class of 
Milton and Shakespeare, according to some; 

His necessarily circumscribed experience in religious life enabled him to 
reach and express a unique Catholic and overwhelming vision of God, and of 
creatures in relation to God, that greater poets cannot match. "^ 

I hope, within the limits of this article, to explain briefly some of the 
characteristics of style that render him a somewhat difficult poet to understand 
at first sight. Then I hope to divide his poetry into sections, corresponding 
to the various periods in his life, showing the influences brought to b^ar on 
him at these times as they reveal themselves in his work. And finally, I will 
try to explain in some measure the seven Hopkinsian poems printed in our brev- 
iaries, appendix ^. Not all our libraries are equipped with the complete 
edition of the poems, but all have breviaries. As far as possible, I will let 
Gerard speak for himself. His own explanations need no commentary. 

Rhymes and Chimes 

Explanations of technicalities are generally tedious. But since we want to 
get full enjoyment from and thorough understanding of this poet, we have to take 
a look at certain elements in his style that might otherwise be daunting. 

In the first place, Gerard is known for what he called 'sprung rhythm'. 
What is this? 

The conventional, common rhythm for conventional, common poets is measured, 
or scanned, by 'feet* of two or three syllables, with the stress on the first 

Then my hpart with pleasure^ fills 

And dances with tfie daffodils. (Wordsworth. The. D affodi ls.') 

(two syllables: one strong and one weak) 


/ o j s o j / j j ' . j 
Just for a handful of silver he left us, 

Just for '£. riband t°o stick in his coat. (Browning, The Lost Leader?) 
(three syllables: one strong and one weak) 

For the most part these rhythms are mixed, and this conventional method 
was the way Gerard usually wrote in his early days, that is, until 1875 » the 
year of new development. After his long self-imposed silence, he burst forth 
into his masterpiece", 'The Wreck of the Deutschland', in the new sprung rhythm. 
What had happened? He tells us himself: 

I had long had haunting my ear the echo of a new rhythm which I now real- 
ised on paper. To speak shortly, it consists in scanning by accents or 
stresses alone, without any account of the number of syllables, so that a foot 
may be one strong syllable or it may be many light and one strong, I do not 
say the idea is altogether new,,, but no one has professedly used it and made 
it the principle throughout , that I know of, u_ 

It is the nearest to the rhythm of prose, that is, the native and natural 
rhythm of speech, the least forced, most rhetorical and emphatic of all 
possible rhythms , combining as it seems to me ... markedness of rhythm and 
naturalness of expression, 5 

An attentive reading aloud of the following will make this clearer: 

Thou mastering me 
God! giver of breath and bread; 
World* s strand, sway of the sea; 
Lord of living and dead; 
Thou hast bound bones and veins in me, fastened me flesh 
And after almost unmade, what with dread, 
Thy doing: and dost thou touch me afresh? 
Once again I feel thy finger and I find thee. 

WD Stanza 1 

We are listening to a creature crying passionately to God in 
suffering. Putting it in another way we could say that Gerard's poetry based on speech rhythms rather than on written forms, capturing the 
sound as the ear hears words, more than the eye responding to the printed word. 

A further individual mark of Gerard's poetry derives from his study of 
the Welsh bards of antiquity. Not for nothing had he learned the difficult 
Welsh language. He was intrigued by the word sounds, the 'chimes* achieved' by 
these ancient masters. He studied their techniques, or rather, series* of tech- 
niques, and it was thus that he discovered methods of forming speech -sounds, 
Gerard describes his discovery thus t 

...certain chimes suggested by the Welsh poetry I had been reading. . .and 
a great many more oddnesses that could not but dismay an editor's eye. / 

These chimes consisted largely of internal rhyming, or rhyming within the 
lines of verse, also alliteration of consonants, often combined with the 

For I greet him the days I meet him, and bless when I understand, WD 

(internal rhyming) 

And I fled with a fling of the heart to the heart of the host, WD 



For how to the heart's cheering 
The down - dugged ground - hugged grey 

hovers off... " WD 26 (Both) 

(Dawn begins to break after a terrible night) 

Stroke and stress that sta rs and storms deliver 
That guilt is hushed by , hearts are flushed by and melt. WD 6 

(Adversity purifies the soul) (Both) 

Another 'oddity' is the way Gerard piled up words to stress an idea, as we see 
here in The Golden Echo: 

. . .0 why are we so 
haggard at the heart, so care-coiled, care-killed, so fagged, 

so fashed, so cogged, so cumbered, 
When the thing we freely forfeit is kept with fonder care. 

It sometimes happens, too, that a line is ' rove over', that is, the line 
is concluded on the subsequent line; 

And what is Earth's eye, tongue, or heart else, where 
Else but in dear and dogged man? 


Gerard was always seeking for just the right word. If he could not find 
it he would resort to dialect words, unfamiliar words, new compounds strange to 
the ear and even words of his own fabrication. This has led readers to inter- 
pret his meaning in various ways. His verse cannot be tripped lightly off the 
tongue, still less can it be glanced through by the eyes. It needs to be 
thought about, prayed about. What is the poet saying? What is the Spirit 
saying to me, to the world, through him? Here is an example of the theologi- 
cal depths he can reach in a few words : 

Now burn, new-born to the world, 
Double-natured name, 
Ihe heaven-flung, heart-fleshed, maiden-furled 

Miracle-in-Mary-of- flame, 
Mid-numbered he in Three of the thunder throne'. WD 3^ 

So much for our all too brief survey of the techniques of his verse, and 
the origin of that musical quality of his poems to which his soi-disant 
'oddities' contribute. Now let us look at two words that he himself coined and 
which are important for a deeper understanding of his thought. These words are 
'inscape' and 'instress'. There are many definitions of these two terms and 
these vary according to the philosophical leanings of the definer. But they 
'ire not merely philosophical terms - 

(They) are relevant as religious concepts as well, for they suggest the 
modes in which the divine presence can be sensed, g 


For Gerard, everything had an individuality of its own, in and through 
which God's presence could be discovered: 

(inscape) is a distinctive character (almost a 'personality') given by 
the Creator to a particular species of rock, tree or animal. Each separate 
species, through its inscape, reflects some fractional part of God's all- 


inclusive perfection. c ] 


"All the world is full of inscape.",, Gerard says in his Journal, Inscape 

is discovery of God in all things. , This is not limited to nature, but can 
also be experienced in a piece of music, a work of art, a situation, or 
even changing patterns such as cloud formations (about which Gerard wrote a 
good deal). Any created process can reveal the hidden Presence. As a practi- 
cal example of inscape, Gerard confided to his Journal: 

One day when the bluebells were in bloom, I wrote the following: I do 
not think I have ever seen anything more beautiful than the bluebell I have 
been looking at. I know the beauty of the Lord by it. Its inscape is mixed 
of strength and grace. (18?o) tj 

In 1873 we find this lament: 

The ash tree growing in the corner of the garden was felled. It was 
lopped first: I heard the sound and looking out and seeing it maimed, there 
came at that moment a great pang and I wished to die and not see the inscapes 
of the world destroyed any more. H 

In the same Journal in 187*+, we read: * 

As we drove home the stars came out thick: I leaned back to look at them, 
and my heart, opening more than usual, praised our Lord, to whom, and in whom 
all that beauty comes home . I 3 

Ins tress 

Instress is precisely what happens when Gerard experiences inscape, A 
relationship is established between him and the object. His mourning for the 
felled tree is genuine. It arises from a sensitivity to the death of this 
living thing. There is a communication between himself 'and the tree, a power 
which moves him profoundly. 

A good glossary of Hopkinsian words describes instress as 'the forceful 
impression made on a beholder by the inner energies of a thing's being. If- A 
good summing up of all this is contained in the following: 

By virtue of inscape and instress, things can be said to have meaning and 
value, and so they can remind everyone of the goodness of God. They reveal 
to us a universe laden with meaning. 1 5" 
Nature was a sacramental to Gerard. 


General Remarks 

I It might seem from the foregoing that Gerard's poetic vision was an un- 
clouded one, in which nature was an inexhaustible source of continuous rev- 
elation of God, This was not so. Gerard was sensitively aware of evil in 
the world. He confronted it daily during his pastoral experience among the 
immigrants in the slums of Liverpool and Glasgow, Evil lurchs in the heart of 
humankind. This truth, however, drew Gerard to what he already knew was 
the key to the spiritual life: sacrifice, especially the sacrifice of obedi- 
ence. Herein Jesus was his model. Novrhere does this appear so strongly as 
in his reluctance to publish his work. He never wished for praise or fame. 
None of his poems were published in his lifetime, apart from one or two little 


pieces that appeared in the ffonth . the Jesuit periodical of the English Prov- 
ince. When a well-meaning friend offered to publish his poems for him, he 
replied : 

When a ran has given himself to God's service, when he has denied him- 
self and followed Christ, he has fitted himself to receive from God a special 
guidance. . .This guidance is conveyed partly by the action of other men as his 
appointed superiors, and partly by direct light and inspirations. If I wait 
for such guidance about anything. . .about my po.'try for instance, I do more 
wisely in every way than if I try to serve my own interests in the matter. If 
you value what I write... much more does our Lord. And if he chooses to avail 
himself of what I leave at his disposal, He can do so with a felicity. . .which 
I could never command... To live by faith is very hardj nevertheless, by God's 
help, I shall always do so. IG 

More briefly he says to his close friend Robert Bridges: 

When I say I do not mean to publish, I speak the truth. '7 

II Gerard felt, even then that English was deteriorating. This explains the 
use, at times, of archaic language, the disappearance of which was, to him, a 
loss to the English language i- 

f 'l am learning Anglo-saxon', he writes to Bridges,"and it is a vastly 
superior thing to what we have now, it makes one weep to think what English 
might have been/ 1% 

III The gift of poetry , or any other outstanding gift, should draw the mau 
into a deeper relationship with the Lord, but in many poets we do not see the re- 
flection of their gift in their lives. Many religious poets who preceded Ger- 
ard were just that- religious poets - and there it ended. But with Gerard we 

do see spiritual growth as his genius matures. 

Hopkins' life was a continuous substantial progress towards perfection. 
He believed this, he lived this, this is what he wrote. lS 

IV Gerard insists that his poems be read aloud. 

Repeatedly and most insistently he implores and pleads with his friends 
to read and reread his verse and read it aloud, read it with the ear and 
declaim iti £& 

(His verse) is, as living art shouUbe, made for performance, and its 
performance is not reading with the eye, but loud. leisurely . poetical (not 
rhetorical) recitation. £\ 

Hence the title of this article. 3Q 

Tne Early Period (1860-1975) 

Some writers ignore the earliest poems as mere experiments. It is true 
they are not Gerard's mature work, though thern are some gems that point the 
way to a greater future. They cover a wide spanj the schoolboy period, the 
Oxford undergraduate, his conversion and reception into the Church and the 
seven silent years of formation in the Society of Jesus, i.e. until two 
years before his ordination. These were big changes in Gerard's life and they 
are reflected in his writing. There are twentyseven completed poems in this 
period, of which two thirds are religious. 

One of the characteristics of these early poems is the variety of stanzaic 


pattems Gerard used by way of experiment. Some of these he abandoned, others 
he returned to later. His first notable poem ''The Escorial", written in I860, 
shows a dependence on Spencer and Keats. George Herbert was a major influence also, 
and continued to be during his Oxford experience. Two gems written at this 
time deserve mention: "Heaven-Haven" and "The Habit Of Perfection' 1 , Space obvi- 
ously precludes my going into all these early poems, so I am selecting those 
that reflect his turning to the Church. 

See How Spring Opens With Disabling Cold - June I865 

The poet is regretting his past youth and its little spiritual fruit. He 
has been so long in discovering: 

, . . that threshold 
Which should ere now have led my feet to the fold... 

His previous convictions hold him back and he compares his spiritual life 
to a poor harvest and concludes with: 

...Therefore how bitter, and learnt how late, the truth. 

Let He Be To Thee As The Circling Bird - October,' 1865 

Although a year had yet to elapse before his reception into the Church, 
this poem, like the previous one, reveals a certainty of where the truth, and 
his ultimate destiny, lie. In the previous poem he was an untilled field; here 
the metaphor is music. He has found pleasure in bird song: 

...And every praised sequence of sweet strings, 
And know infallibly which I preferred, 
The authentic cadence was discovered late... 

...I have found the dominant of my range and state... 

The Halfway House - October, 1865, the same time as the above. 

It is interesting to note here Gerard's devotion to the Eucharist and his disaffec- 
tion with the Anglican view of a merely symbolic presence of Jesus Christ in 
the bread and wine. 

...My national old Egyptian reed gave way; 

...Hear yet my paradox: Love, when all is given, 
To see thee I must see thee, to love, love... 

...You have your wish, enter these walls, one said: 
He is with you in the breaking of the bread. 

Seventeen months earlier, Gerard had written to his schooltime friend, 
E.H.Coleridge, grandson of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, as follows: 

The great aid to belief and object of belief is the doctrine of the Real 
Presence in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. Religion without that is sombre, 
dangerous, illogical, with that it is - not to k speak of its grand consistancy 
and certainty - loveable. Hold that and you will gain all Catholic truth. ^ 


jtonduin (not Yet) - Lent 1366. 

A beautiful poem, written about i.even months before his reception into 
the Church, shows that the struggle was still going on. He is utterly 
dependent on God, to be led by him. 

... Oh, till Thou givest that sense beyond, 
To show Thee that Thou art and near 
Let patience with her chastening wand 
Dispel the doubt and dry the tear; 
And lead me childlike by the hand; 
If still in darkness, not in fear... 

Tne Habit Of Perfection 

This section would not be complete without some further mention of this 
poem, referred to on page 6, Tne paradox of the discipline of the senses 
openiag the soul to 'the uncreaigd light* is worked through skillfully and 
with beauty. 

Tne Middle Years I. The Wreck Of The Deutschland 1875-1376 

Gerard dpstroyed his -ooems before entering the Society of Jesus, ^ an act 
which he referred to in his Journal as 'the slaughter of the innocents*. 
Until the end of 1875 » therefore, silence ensued. This silence was terminated 
at the suggestion of his Superior that he write 'something' about the five 
Franciscan Nuns, exiles from the Falk laws, who were drowned on December 7, 1875 t 
As a consequence there flowed from his pen the thirtyfive stanza ode which we 
know as "The Wreck of the Deutschland". 

As a poem it is out of context in the Victorian era from which it sprang. 
Here was something quite off the beaten track: the introduction of sprung rhythm, the 
'chimes' and speech sounds of the Welsh bards, the internal rhyming and 
alliteration of consonants and all the other 'oddities 'we met with in the sec- 
tion 'Rhymes and Chimes', It is a difficult poem, Intellectually and emotion- 
ally, a poem that has to be l ived rather than read, and not to be lightly tossed 
aside. Small wonder then that Gerard's two poet friends, Robert Bridges and 
Coventry Patmore could not understand it. Two editors, to whom it was sent, 
refused it out of hand! Our pluralistic age, however, finds it easier to digest, 
W.H.Gardner, in his Introduction to the third edition of the poems, speaks thust : 

This work peals out like a massive overture at the beginning of this man's 
all-too-brief opera, ^ 

'*R\e Wreck of the Deutschland" is not simply a poem about a shipwreck, Itis 
a drama of God and man, of suffering and triumph, of a journey like that which 
each of us must make - fraught with pain, disaster, frustration and suffering, 
by means of which we come to experience the paradox of God's mastery over our 
lives, and of his love, I will sum up the poem briefly. 

Stanzas 1-11 These first eleven verses describe the poet's own experience: we'' 
ao not know to what he is referring, but it seems to have been a time of crisis, 
of temptation, of deep suffering, of conversion. He writes: 


...I did say yes 
at lightning and lashed rod: 
Thou heardest me truer than tongue confess 

Thy terror, Christ, God; 
Thou knowest the walls, altar and hour and night 
The swoon of a heart that the sweep and the hurl of thee trod 

Hard down with a horror of height;... Stanza 2 

God's finger touched him and he "fled with a fling of the heart to the 
heart of the Host*' knowing that only in Christ is all redemption. But there 
must be a going down into the tomb, a purification, in order that there may be 
a rising to new life. In a letter to Bridges > Gerard states: 

...what refers to myself in the poem is all strictly true and did all occur; 
nothing is added for poetical padding... 26 

Stanzas 12-24 - recount the shipwreck in all its stark reality. 

. . .Wiry and white-fiery and whirlwind- swivelled snow 
Spins to the widow-making unchilding unfathering deeps... 

Stanza 13 
Man is not in control of his life. Helpless and powerless, he must turn to 
God who alone can lead him through the most excruciating circumstances to his 
ultimate destiny. When man is at his most desperate, if he clings to God, hope 
will be kindled. A Sister demonstrates this. In her extremity she calls out: 
"0 Christ, Christ, come quickly!" In the frenzy of the storm and the panic on 
board the ship, she bears witness to a hope which transcends all the horrors 
and darkness. Christ is her all, nothing can separate her from him. Her vi- 
sion is clear. Her cry is not only her own but for all who are suffering. 

It is the nature of gift to bestow, so her call to God becomes the call of 
all around her, an invitation for them to hand over and submit their lives to 
God. 37 

Stanzas 25-35 - further reflections on the Sister's cry: 

•••Is it love in her of the being as her lover had been? St. 25 

He contrasts the nun's cry with the "We are perishing" of the disciples 
of Jesus on the lake. Hers is a cry, not of despair but of faith :- 

...They were else-minded then, altogether, the men 
Woke thee with a we are perishing in the weather of Gennesareth. 
Or is it that she cried for the crown then, 
The keener to come at the comfort for feeling the combating keen? 

Stanza 25 

The poet enters into the confusion of the struggle and finds the answer to 
the nun's cry. It is Christ himself, in whatever way he may make himself known. 

... Ipse , the only one, Christ, King, Head,,. Stanza 28 

He comes striding over the waters of tumult, the triumphant Lord. He is 
the Lord of this wreck, the master of living and dead. 

... Ah! there was a heart right! 

There was a single eye... Stanza 29 

The poet remembers that the following day is the feast of the 


Immaculate Conception and he sees the tragedy in a new light. Mary, the woman who 
was conceived without stain of sin is an image of this woman whose brief agony would 
bring forth Christ, the fruition for the other passengers as well as for the world. 

... is the shipwrack then a harvest, 

Does tempest carry the grain for thee? Stanza 31 

All suffering in Christ is redemptive, no matter who we are, where we are, or in 
what circumstances we may be. Like the nun we enter into the paschal mystery and 
help to make it effective for all the world. 

The final stanzas conclude the poem with a -nrayer, heavily loaded with 
metaphor. He addresses the nun, baptized in the sacrificial waters, begging her 
to intercede for his country and for all pilgrims still journeying towards the 
kingdom. He prays that Christ may reign in the hearts of his countrymen and that 
their 'dimness' may be transformed into the radiance of his glory. Then, indeed, 
the 'shipwrack' will be a harvest and the tempest 'carry grain for thee,' 

(I am indebted to Sr. C.M.O.P. for the insights and for much of the material in 
his section on this.) 

The Middle Years II 1677-1330 

This period, the post-Deutschland period, includes Gerard's last year of 
theology, his preparation for the priesthood, His initiation into parish work 
as a preacher in London, a brief interlude as sub-minister (bursar) at St, Mary's 
College, assistant pastor at St. Aloycius' Oxford and various other Darishes. 
Changes were rapid and of short duration. It was a very rich and fruitful time 
for the poet. The year 1377 brought forth ten sonnets, and the Oxford period produced 
six more, all of the highest quality. Almost all were nature poems reflecting Gerard' s j 
sacramental view of nature, through inscape and ins tress, drawing men to God. 
The Incarnation is his principal theme, as he sees it reflected throughout 
the whole of creation. 'Ipre' (Himself) is to be perceived in the everchanging, 
yet constant, creational scene. Sometimes this is Instressed in imagery, some- 
times it has to be sought for and gleaned from the poet's obscure wording, but 
the pattern is there. The world is God's good news to man. 

As early as 1877 » five months before his ordination we find Gerard writ- 
ing to Robert Bridges that he is 'very tired, yes, a thousand times and yet a 
thousand times tired ' r ° Two years later he refers to surgery. He continues 
over the years to confide to his friend that he feels 'so fagged,' 'much jaded' 
in a 'state of weakness', 'always jaded,' always tirod'. During the Dublin 
period this was intensified as we shall see later. The duties of his state were 
absorbing, full of difficult and harassing nroblems. His priestly consecra- 
tion and his functions as a priest were his primary concern and every detail 
demanded by them was scrupulously discharged. Poetry took second place. His 
life was : 

...a dramatic record of a man (and a priest) caught up in a dialogue with 
God about the things of God.,, \jq 

Add to this a sensitivity to ill health, and a highly strung nature, and 
we can conclude that many of his poems were born in suffering. 

It is difficult to pick out certain poems for comment from this very rich 
section. Obviously the throe printed In the breviary must take first place. 
Then 'The Windhover* ,for its sheer excellence, cannot be omitted. All these 



were written in 1877. 

(Breviary:. Appendix 4) 

The grandeur of God is inherent in his creation. It blazes forth in sud- 
den brilliance like silver foil being shaken. Gerard explains his meanings 

All things are charged with love, are charged with God, and, if we know 
how to touch them, give off sparks and take fire... ring and tell of him. 3o 

This is also manifested in a slow way$ like oil oozing from a crushed 
olive*, but all men do not recognize God. They live as if in a treadmill. Money- 
making has seared, bleared, smeared their sight, and nature is barren like 
winter, unfeeling. 

Yet there is hope. Nature has a source of renewed life in herself, 'fresh- 
ness deep down things*. There is a sunrise in the 'brown brink eastward'. The 
word 'brown' here means brightness, from the Old English *brun' . And the Holy- 
Spirit still broods creatively over the earth, like a mother bird over her 
eggs, to initiate new life and salvation, 

... Because the Holy Ghost over the bent 
world broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings. 

Pied Beauty (Breviary; Appendix 4) 

This is also a sonnet, but a 'curtal' or short one, only ten and a half 
lines instead of the conventional fourteen. 

It is a prayer of praise from beginning to end. The images Gerard uses 
are unconventional. The word Pied itself, or variegated, two-colored, indi- 
cates something unusual, a breakthrough. The Victorian era saw the rise of 
the industrial revolution; similarly, the machine age tended to produce a uniformity 
of thought patterns in the social order. The poet breaks through this with a 
world of diversified effects that would not at once be recognized as beautiful: 
'couple-colored skies, "a brinded cow', that is, one in which brown is streaked 
with another color, 'rose-colored trout ' falling chestnuts that break open to 
reveal 'fresh fire coal,' birds' wings, the land pieced out patchworkwise, 
fishing tackle that no one ever before considered beautiful! So much variety! 
Such strong imagery', Gt, Thomas said change presupposes the Unchangeable, 
which is the climactic peak of the sonnet, 

...He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change.! 

Praise him. 

The Nay Magnificat (Breviary- Appendix k) 

There is not much to say about this simple little poem, 'a popular piece', 
as Gerard called it. It was written at Stonyhurst College, where Gerard was 
stationed for the summer months to coach students in classics for university 
entrance. It was a May custom in the college for students to write poems in 
honor of Mary, These were placed before the statue of the Blessed Virgin. 
The Fathers subsequently judged the poems they thought suitable for publica- 
tion, Gerard's poem did not pass. The stanzaic pattern was unusual and the 
sprung rhythm was not understood by the judges, who thought it all too odd,3< 
The poet himself found 'something displeasing' in the poem but does not speci- 
fy. It may be of interest to note that the custom of dedicating the month 
of May to the Blessed Virgin was comparatively new In England, It was intro- 
duced by an Italian priest, Fr. Aloysius Gentili in 1840. 

Th e Windhover. - To Christ Our Lord 

This is said to be one of Gerard's greatest poems. The poet himself 
referred to it as '...the b^st thing I ever wrote.' 02_ 

It is a complex sonnet with depths of meaning. So complex is it that 
commentators, while unanimous as to its excellence, differ widely about its 
actual meaning. To do the sonnet justice in a short summary such as this is 
nearly impossible. I can only offer a. few thoughts gleaned from many 
widely differing interpretations. 

There are three levels of meaning here. In the literal sense there is 
a real bird, a kestrel, that is, a small falcon, blue grey above and russet 
red beneath. Shakespeare knew the bird under the name' coys trill' . The 
poet watches the bird, swooping, gliding, soaring with the upbeat of its power- 
ful wings, overcoming the prevailing wind in a joyous ecstasy of mastery and 

.. .striding 
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing 
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing, 
As a skate's heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding 
Rebuffed the big wind... 

Some commentators see no more than this, a nature poem, beautifully ex- 
pressed with all the characteristic Hopkinsian vivid imagery, tenseness, power 
and originality. But we must note the subtitle; 'To Christ Our Lord'. This is 
the second level. While the eyes of the poet are on the bird's flight, his 
heart is concerned with a new depth : 

...Brute beauty and valor and act... 

are as nothing compared with 'my chevalier' 

, ,,oh, air, pride, plume here 
Buckle I . . . 

( buckle means grapple, engage in combat) 

All the elements which caused the poet such wonder and joy with the bird 
reinterpret the struggle in a different sense. The bird's powerful mastery 
of the elements becomes Christ's victory, his supremacy over all the powers of 
evil ranged against him, his triumphant conquest of sin and death, disease and 
diabolical powers. 

...ANT) the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion 

Times told lovelier, more dangerous, my chevalier!... 

The thiri level of understanding refers to the poet himself. Within his 
heart he experiences a call to which he responds. He has given his whole being 
to the Lord who now calls him to a still deeper level of discipleship. There is 
nothing spectacular, but: 

... No wonder of it: sheer plod makes plough down sillion 
Shine. . . 

His lowly role is linked with Christ: "Through poverty, through labor, 
through crucifixion his majesty of nature more shines' ?3 Gerard's crucifixion 
was to be his increasing bad health: 


,. .blue-bleak embers 
Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermilion. 

Fall, gall (suffering) in Christ leads to the gold-vermillion, the colors 
of majesty in the Kingdom to come. 

The Middle Years 111 1881-1883 

Few poems were written during this period. Gerard made his tertianship 
at this time and voluntarily renounced the writing of poetry in order to give 
himself wholly to the works of the spirit. In the Fall of 1882 he returned to 
Stonyhurst College to teach classics. It was at this time that he wrote the 
beautiful poem 'The Blessed Virgin Compared With The Air We Breathe'. The 
original title was 'Mary, Mother Of Divine Grace, Compared To The Air We Breathe* 
This is, alas, too long to reproduce and its theological richness would re- 
quire an article of its own. 

Gerard speaks of great fatigue in 1883 and felt his poetic vein was running 
out. This was far from being the case as we shall see. 

The Dublin Period 188^-1889 

In February 188^+ Gerard was appointed to University College, Dublin, as 
lecturer in classics and examiner for students all over the country. In 1885 
he entered into a period of spiritual desolation. The work in the University, 
heavy as it was, combined with his continual fatigue and ill-health, a spiritual 
aridity that descends! upon him, the sense of being abandoned by God and without 
hope on account of his sinfulness, all plunged him into the deepest depress- 
ion and misery. All was darkness and frustration. This was 'my winter world'. 
He writes to Bridges of 'that coffin of weakness and dejection in which I live'. 

"The six sonnets of desolation'composed during this year form a series. There 
are no titles, but the first lines bear witness to the intensity of the poet's 
suffering. I have put them into their logical order, which may not be their 
chronological order. This cannot be traced. Some critics add a further sonnet 
to this group, 'Spelt from Sybil's Leaves*which was written the year before. 
Some see this poem as merely a description of evening closing into night. Two 
of the best commentators, however, recognize the sonnet as autobiographical . 
FTvening to night is symbolic of the judgement where two states alone matter: 
•black, white; right, wrong; ' And the closing lines certainly suggest hellr 

...Where selfwrung, self strung, sheathe-and shelterless, thoughts 
against thoughts in groans grind. 

'Spelt' is hard-grained wheat and the Sybil is the same prophet who 
appears with David in the opening lines of the Dies Irae, linking biblical 
and pagan prophecies :- 

That day a day of wrath 
Shall reduce the world to ashes 
As do testify David and the Sybil. (Dies Irae) 

Though they may not all agree as to the exact meaning of these seven 
.sonnets, • even the most severe critics of the Jesuit have had to grant that 
here is his greatest poetry', SC? 


To Sqoti The Stranger 

This is a straightf orward sonnet. Gerard's family were separated from him 
by religion. His sense of isolation is outlined in a colloquy with Christ: 

. . . Father and mother dear 
Brothers and sisters are in Christ not near 
And he my peace my parting, sword and strife... 

England, his 'wife', whom he loves dearly, has disappointed him. As her 
empire grows, it becomes more and more unchristian. Pleading would be useless; 
she would not listen. His treasure, the Catholic faith, is hoarded and 
unheeded. He loags to share this faith with those dearest to him, family, 
friends, his fellow countrymen, but they do not want to receive what he so much 
desires to give. 

At this time he was in Ireland, a 'third remove* among strangers. It was not that 

he did not receive kindness but that what he most wanted to say was somehow thwarted, 

leaving him unheard, unheeded and lonely, Mariani styles the poem 'a personal 

talk between the poet and his God,' ^J 

I Wake And Feel The Fell Of Dark (Breviary: Vol. 1) 

Here the darkness is deeper! 

... What hours, what black hours we have spent 
this night! ... 

He knows there are more to come before light dawns. His 'hours' are 
years, his whole life. He cries out to God, but his cries are like dead let- 
ters sent to a beloved and never destined to be delivered, for God lives far 
away and he cannot contact him. St, John of the Cross says that one of the 
greatest tortures of the soul: the thought that God has abandoned it, of which it has no doubt; that 
he has cast it r.way into darkness as an abominable thing... the shadows of death 
and the pains and torments of hell are most acutely felt, that is, the sense 
of being without God, 3^ 

The 'self yeast' of the spirit has become a sour dull dough. All is bit- 
terness. He compares his state with that of the souls in hell. 

... The lost are like this, and their scourge to be 
As I am mine, their sweating selves; but worse. 

No Worst, There Is None 

This is the most terrible of all these sonnets of desolation. The dark- 
ness is complete i 

... Pitched past pitch of grief... 

'Pitch' here means the highly strung stressed self. There is no question of 
light being delayed, light had gone entirely) and there was more suffering: 

...More pangs will, schooled at forepangs, wilder wring... 

The poet cries to the Holy Spirit, the Comforter: '...where is your 
comforting?' And to Mary, our Mother: '...where is your relief?' He 
comes close to desuair. This was surely the sonnet that he wrote of to 


Bridges as having been 'written in blood, '~q Was he crying out against the 
world domination of sin, or perhaps the effects of sin in the words: 

...My cries heave, herds-long; huddle in a main, a chief 
Woe, world-sorrow, , , ? 

He likens himself to a man clinging to a cliff, or a steep mountainside. 
He must hang on or fall: 

... the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall 

Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap 
May who ne'er hung there... 

Only his entire submission to God can keep him holding on. A fall 
would be despair. But: 

... Life death does end and each day dies with sleep. 

There will be an end to these pains and desolation; sleep brings a tempo- 
rary respite and is an image of death which ends all suffering. 

Carrion Comfort 

Here the poet is in dialogue with himself. His will is firmly linked 
with Christ, but the self that seeks relief - "carrion comfort'- is urged 
on to despair: 

...Not, I'll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee;... 
The sonnet begins in this way. 

Even in this extreme desolation which wrings from him the cry:- 'I can 
no more,' he quickly adds: 'I can.' He can hope, he can choose to be with 
Christ. He has free will. He will not untwist the strands of his humanity 
that bind him to Christ. He has kissed the rod, submitted to Christ, and he 
is totally in God's hands. He remembers the joy and consolation he experi- 
enced at the former time when he kissed the rod: heart lo! lapped strength, stole joy would laugh, cheer,, . 

But now! Whom should he cheer? Christ who has flung him down from 
heaven? Or himself who dares to wrestle with God? The memory of the joy he 
received on that other occasion supports him now as he once more wrestles 
'With God, 

...That night, that year 

Of now done darkness I wretch lay wrestling with (my God I) my 


Patience, Hard Thing 

Patience is a hard and difficult thing. To attain it we must pray for it 
and to pray for it is to ask for battles and interior conflicts, weariness, 
renunciation, struggle and implicit obedience* 

Patience, hard thing! the hard thing but to pray, 
But bid for, Patience is! Patience who asks 
Wants war, wants wounds; weary his times, his tasks; 
To do without, take tosses, and obey. 

The hard won patience is precisely the fruit of these struggles. Like 
ivy, it grows slowly, covering our past wrecked endeavors: 


,, .Natural heart's ivy, Patience masks 
Our ruins of wrecked past r>urpose... 

Dur hearts rebel, we must 'bruise' then, asking God to bend our rebellious 
wills to himself. The sonnet noves between two polps, severity and sweetness. 
In the last three lines the war, wounds, prating and bruised hearts give way to 
the sweetness of honey in the comb: 

...And where is he who more and more distils 

Delicious kindness? - He is patient. Patience fills 
His crisp combs, and that cones those ways we know, 

Vy Own Heart Let Me Have "ore Pity On (Breviary: Vols. I, II, III) 

This, the last of the sonnets of desolation, shows the poet risiag from 
the depths of his misery to a God who is smiling again, though this upward 
movement does not really get under way until the last three lines. He realizes 
he must be kind to himself, something we all have to learn at some point in 
our journey to God. He refuses to live with a tormented mind: ' With this 
tormented mind tormenting yet.* He casts round for comfort, but cannot find it, 
any more than a blind man who thirsts for water ' in all a world of wet. ' In 
the sextet he gives himself some good advice to call off disturbing thoughts and to 
leave comfort foot-room: 

...let joy size 
At God knows when to God knows what; whose smile 
's not wrung, see you; unforeseen times rather - as skies 
Betweenpie mountains - lights a lovely mile. 

The word 'betweenpie' has puzzled commentators. 'Pie' means variegated 
color, and'between' belongs to the 'mountains', so God's smile is a colorful 
break in the sky between somber mountains. Applying this to the spiritual 
torment Gerard has been through, we can infer that he now enjoys a sunny 
breakthrough between the dark mountains, lighting up his way - a lovely mile. 

Thou Art Indeed Just ( Breviary : Vols I, II, III and IV) 

This poem was written four years after the seven sonnets we have been 
considering, and only three months before his death on June 8, 1889. I have 
only included it for special mention because the compilers of appendix 4 of 
our breviary evidently considered the sonnet important, since it appears in 
all four volumes, a compliment granted to no other poem! 

The theme here is from Jeremiah 12:1 Gerard writes to Bridges that the 
poem should be read 'adagio molto* (with great stress). if-C The poet's prob- 
lem, and the prophet's also, is that God is just, yet sinners prosper in all 
their doings, while all he does ends in disappointment. He is God's friend, 

... Wert thou my enemy, thou my friend, 

How wouldst thou worse, I wonder, than thou dost 
Defeat, thwart me?... 

'The sots and thralls of lust' i.e. the wicked, thrive better than he does 
whose life is spent in God's cause. He notices the abundant and lavish beauty 
of spring. The birds build, but he builds nothing. Try as he will, not one 
good work can he do. He begs the Lord: 

... Send my roots rain. 



This brings us to the end of our survey of a selection from Gerard 
Hanley Hopkins' seventy five completed poems. If his output was small by com- 
parison with some other poets, his work must be judged less by ouantity than 
by quality. He is a religious poet of the highest calibre. Some regard him 
as a mystical writer, particularly with respect to the 'sonnets of desolation'. 

There is little in the whole of English lyrical poetry that touched so 
convincingly that darkness preceding dissolution, when the soul, stripped 
to its essential self, must finally confront its Creator,,. A vision of a dark, 
rarely visited spiritual plateau has been translated into religious poetry 
of a very high order, *M 

May the example and prayers of Gerard Manley Hopkins help those in spirit- 
ual desolation to cling to the Lord in naked faith and win through to the 
joyful death that was his. 


1, MacKenzie, Norman H. A Readers Guide to Gerard Hanley Hopkins . p9. 

2, Hopkins, Gerard Manley. New Catholic Encyclopedia . Vol. 7. P 146. 

3, Ibid , p 146. ~.-. —.-—-—--■—.— .... 

4, The Correspondence of Gerard Manley Hopkins and Richard Watson Dixon . 

Abbott. 2nd revised edition. 1955. #3 p 14. Oxford Univ. Press. 

5, Letters of Gerard Man ley Hopkins to Robert Bridges . Abbott. 2nd 

Revised Eiition 1955. #37 P 551 Emphasis mine. Oxford Univ. Press. 

6, Private notes of W.L.T. With permission. 

7, Op. cit . Letters to Dixon, #3.pl5. 

8, Walhout, Donald, Send My Roots Rain , p I56. Ohio Univ. Press. I98I. 

9, Op, cit . Mackenzie. p233. 

10. The Journals and Papers of Gerard Manley Hopkins . 1937. p 230. 

11. Ibid , p I99. 

12. Ibid, p 230. 

13. Ibid , p 254. 

14. Schoder, Raymond V, SJ. An Interpretive Glossary of Difficult Terms in 

the Poems , in Immortal Diamond ed, Norman Weyland, Sheed and Ward 


15. Op. Cit , Walhout. p I58. 

16. Op, cit . Letters to Dixon. #22 p93. 

17. Op. ci t. Letters to Bridges #53 p 66. 

18. Ibid . Letter 93. P 163 

19. Lowell, Robert. Hopkins* Sanctity . The Konyon Critics. Gerard Manley 

Hopkins. New Directions. 1973. P 9*. 

20. Peters , W.A.M. SJ. Gerard ran ley Hopkins, A Critical Essay. 2nd Ed. 1970. 

Basil Blackwell and Johnson Reprint Corp, . 

21. Op. cit . Letters to Bridges. # 143. p246. Emphasis mine. 

22. Op. cit . Journals and Papers. Lecture Notes: Poetry and Verse, p 289. 

23. Mariani , Paul. L. Commentary On The Complete Poems of G.M.H. Quoted 

from a letter of Hopkins to E.H.Coleridge on P 28. 

24. Op. Cit . Journals and Papers, p I65, 

25. Gardner , W.H, Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins, 3rd Ed, Reprint, I96I. pxviii, 

26. Op. Cit , Letters to Bridges. #37. p 47. 


27. Private Notes S.F. 

2C. Op.Cit . Letters to Bridges. #30. p 3?. 

29. Op. Git , Mariani. p xviii. 

30. Sernons and Devotional Writings of Gerard Manley Hopkins , ed. Devlin, O.U.P. 

1959. Quoted by Peter Milward, S..T. A Commentary on the Sonnets Of G.M.H. 

31. 0o. Cit . Letters to Bridges . #58. p 77. p 5. 

32. Ibid . Letter 61. p. 85. 

33. The N o tebooks an d Papers of G.M.H . p 26^. Quoted by Raymond V. Schoder f SJ. 

on the article "What Does The Winhover T \ean?"Fron Immortal Diamond, 
3^. Op. Cit . Letters to Bridges. # 127. p? 21^,215. 

35. Translation. St. Dominic's Missal. 

36, Pick , John. Ge rard Man l ey Hopkins, Pries t and Poe t, p JA4, 

37. Op. Git . Mariani. p 213. 

38, Op. Cit . Pick, p 145- 1^. Quoted from St. John of the Cross. ( No refer- 

ence given), 
39. Op. Git . Letters to Bridges. #129. P 219. 
40. I Did . #170. P 303. 
^1. Op. Cit . Mariani. p 317. 



The Sun 

is ninety-three million 
miles from the earth 
Yet it warms 

each tiny seed 

into life and fruition. 

The Sun shines 


without faltering, without dimming, 
Untouched by earth's 

clouds and darkness. 
If ever it ceased to shine, 

each tiny seed 

and every living creature 

would die. 

God's love is a Sun 

infinitely above us 
Yet holding each 

in intimate embrace. 

He loves ceaselessly, 

without faltering, without dimming, 
Untouched by storms 

of human passion, 
Undeterred by darkness 

of human sin. 
If ever he ceased to love, 

each tiny seed 

and every living creature 

would cease. 

Why do we speak 
as if the Sun 
did not shine 

Sr. Mary Martin, O.P. 




Jean Jerome Hamer, O.P. 

On April 7 , 1986, at a meeting of the federal presidents 
of the monasteries of Spain and of superiors representing unfed- 
erated monasteries, the Cardinal prefect of the Congregation for 
Religious and Secular Institutes, Monsignor Jean Jerome Hamer, 0. P., 
delivered the following address. 

Sisters : 

It is a pleasure to greet you and through you, all the nuns of 
Spain, of this nation whose monasteries have given so many saints 
to the Church. 

I am happy to greet you as prefect of the Congregation for 
Religious and Secular Institutes, authorized in the name of the 
Holy Father to promote the consecrated life in the world and more 
particularly, in the contemplative life. I speak on behalf of the 
Holy Father, who, as Head of the Church, is also our first reli- 
gious superior and spiritual teacher. 

In addition, it is a pleasure to greet you in my capacity as a 
Dominican religious, a friar preacher, which I am with fervor and 
conviction. The Dominican ideal, that which attributes so much 
importance to the contemplation of the mystery of God, draws me 
close into solidarity with each of you. 

Today I want to speak to you of the Church's esteem for your 
religious contemplative life. To this end, there is no better way 
than to remind you of the teachings of Vatican II concerning 
Perf ectae Cari tatis //7, "The Decree on the Adaptation and Renewal 
of the Religious Life." 

"Those institutes that are entirely ordered towards contem- 
plation, in which their members give themselves over to God 
alone in solitude and silence, in constant prayer and willing 
penance, will always have, no matter how pressing may be the 
needs of the active apostolate, an eminent place in the mysti- 
cal body of Christ, whose "members do not all fulfill the same 
function" (Rom. 12:4). They offer to God an excellent sacri- 
fice of praise, and with abundant fruits of holiness, they 
give splendor to the People of God whom they inspire by their 
example and enlarge by their hidden apostolic f rui tf ulness . 
Thus, they are a glory to the church and a fount of heavenly 
graces . " 

These are profound affirmations. I wish to underscore simply 
two principles: 


-The contemplative religious life holds a privileged 
place in the church, in spite of the urgency of the works of the 
active apostolate. 

-This life has a concrete-even secret-apostolic 
f ruitfulness. 

Eut these affirmations, an expression of our faith in the 
mystical body and in the communion of the saints, are based on a 
precise vision of the nature of the contemplative life. It is a- 
bout the life of those institutes in which the members "devote 
themselves to God alone in solitude and silence, in constant prayer 
and willing penance." 

Thus, with these four words the Council has wished to describe 
your life: solitude, silence, prayer and penance. These are in a 
certain way four characteristic works of your monastic life. 

This does not mean that we are speaking of four unrelated ac- 
tivities. On the contrary, a strong bond unites them. One among 
them, prayer, is the crown; the others are supportive. Take, for 
example, solitude: this is separation but also nearness. It allows 
you to stand at a distance from the world you have left, but at the 
same time you walk towards a new reality. You do not go backwards. 
Conversely, you move on towards a more exclusive service to the 
Lord, towards a more intense prayer. 

Then, the other activities of which the Council speaks, all 
indispensable, are organized for you around one only: constant 
prayer. Certainly all Christians worthy of this name pray and know 
the importance of prayer. However, caught up by the concrete 
realities of daily life, they cannot dedicate to prayer the place 
and time that you can. They cannot make prayer a primary occupation 
It is enough to compare the schedule of one of your working days 
in the monastery with that of a Christian who lives in the world. 
The principle organizor of your day is the predominance of prayer. 

Prayer itself has various exercises: the Liturgy of the Hours, 
mental prayer, lectio divina , personal prayers .. .but always it 
continues being 'prayer.' I have no intention of giving you here 
a definition of prayer. I would simply meditate with you on some 
reflections of Saint Augustine which go to the heart of the matter. 
Saint Augustine wishes to confront the question: Do we pray because 
the Lord does not know what we need? He answers: "This may seem 
strange if we do not understand that our Lord and God does not ex- 
pect us to make known our needs and desires to Him, since certainly 
He cannot be unaware of them, but He intends that, through prayer, 
we increase our capacity of desiring in order to make ourselves 
more capable of receiving the gifts He prepares for us. His gifts, 
in effect, are tremendous and our capacity to receive them is small 
and insignificant." (Letter to Proba , 130) 


Therefore, to pray, is to fully open our hearts to God, to 
stimulate our desire. And this can have only one objective: a 
blessed life united to the Lord our God. Prayer in this manner 
is a great beginning of our hope. We hope in God and everything 
leads us to Him. There is nothing individualistic in this; 
neither is it an evasion. If we hope for a blessed life for our- 
selves and for others, we desire that all existence and indeed, 
the whole world be organized in function of this fundamental hope . 
For a Christian, the desire for God is the beginning of brother- 
hood among men, of justice and peace. Our humanity is founded in 

If the role of prayer is to increase our desire for God, we 
will understand sufficiently how this prayer has to and must 
change us continually. Prayer must lead us to a state of prayer, 
a permanent situation of needing God. Prayer would make little 
sense if we limited it to the time provided by our conventual 
schedules and to those times we dedicate under the title of private 
prayer. It must be prolonged throughout life. On the other hand, 
let us have no illusions: this spirit cannot be maintained without 
regularity - and very often - by moments of prayer. As Saint 
Augustine reminds us: "Extraneous preoccupations and works weaken 
in us even the desire for prayer: it is for this reason that at 
fixed hours, we go apart in order to redirect our spirit to the 
task of prayer. Vocal prayer summons us again to the object of our 
desire . " 

The monastery is the place where one lives this presence of 
God. Everything there is seen in view of this function. Solitude 
and an atmosphere of silence, sustained by the common desire to 
safeguard them and to eliminate noise and distraction as much as 
possible. Penance, well understood, calms and frees us. "There 
is no other way to life and true interior peace than the way of 
the holy cross and daily mortification." This is the teaching of 
the Imitation of Christ (II, 12, 3) and of all the spiritual 
masters. The priority given to constant prayer confers on the 
life of the contemplative religious a profound unity in spite of 
the diversity of elements. The monastery is a school of desire 
for God. It is the privileged means whereby this yearning is alive 
and on fire. 

These four characteristic activities of the contemplative life 
are experienced in the monastery for religious who have given them- 
selves totally to the Lord by the profession of the evangelical 
counsels. These four words thus give a concrete form to your 
interior oblation and to your life in community. 

Perhaps some of you will be surprised to see that I speak of 
'works' and of 'activities' of the religious contemplative life. 
Is this not to misuse the words? Certainly some aspects of prayer 
and penance are 'activities,' but perhaps this is also true of 
solitude and silence. These ultimate realities, are they not before 
all else, states of being? 

Here is how I answer these unspoken objections. Solitude and 
silence do not depend solely on the disposition of places; they 
have to be actively assumed . A good community wants these two 


conditions of the life of prayer, and organizes everything in 
function of it. It watches constantly in order to safeguard these 
values, thereby making every opportune decision to this end. Is 
it necessary to recall that material solitude is not sufficient 
when a religious or a community is of mind and heart elsewhere? 
There are so many ways to cross over the walls I In order to 
desire the Lord it is necessary to have an available heart. 

I have been visiting the monasteries of nuns for a long time. 
Soon after my priestly ordination in August 1941, I became chap- 
lain of a monastery. What has always caught my attention has 
been the joy of the religious in the monasteries doing well. 
This is not at all strange. Your existence responds to the most 
profound aspirations of the human soul. We are made for God and 
our heart is anxious when it does not rest in Him. Your life of 
constant prayer, lived in contemplative solitude, guaranteed and 
supported by the law of the cloister, sustains you unceasingly in 
movement toward your search for God. Your happiness is the result 
of your conviction of traveling the true road. 

That constant prayer ought to be nourished continually by your 
spiritual reading. Throughout your religious life, at every stage 
you have need of nourishemnt from revealed truth. "Those who have 
knowledge of the truth, love in fire." These words of Saint 
Angela of Foligno remind us that love proceeds from knowledge. 
You should desire more and more to know better the mystery of God 
and of salvation, not for curiosity or out of vanity, but for the 
restlessness of love. Your love of God leads you to recollect 
how much He has wished to reveal Himself. Therefore, select your 
readings with care, according to the indications of your Constitu- 
tions, with a true ecclesial spirit. 

The preparation of the liturgical celebrations will contribute 
towards deepening this knowledge. The liturgy is at the same time 
both a celebration and sign. On the one hand it carries out in us 
the work of salvation and, on the other, it helps us to understand 
the same mystery through its signs and words. To understand in 
its simplicity and depth the Liturgy of the Mass, the Liturgy of 
the Hours, and the other rites such as those of Holy Week, is a 
wonderful initiation into the mystery which God reveals to us in 
His Son, Jesus Christ. 

This, well understood, supposes a certain religious culture 
proportionate to the capacity of each one. You do not have to 
transform monasteries into small universities, but rather allow 
each religious to accede to a religious culture on the level of 
her human culture, having in mind the proper end of the monastic 
life. It is in this sense that the Holy Father, in an address 
directed to the nuns of Avila in November 1982, has called you 
"to continue cultivating your consecrated life through liturgical, 
biblical and spiritual renewal following the directives of the 
Council. All of this requires a permanent formation that enriches 
our spiritual life, giving it a solid doctrinal, theological and 
cultural foundation." 


This religious life consecrated to constant prayer must be 
better understood by all. In the sane address at Avila, the Pope 
called attention to the Christian communities and their pastors 
about the irreplaceable role the contemplative life holds in the 
Church. All of us should deeply appreciate and esteem the gift 
of contemplative souls. 

Above all we must understand well that the special apostolate 
of the monasteries wholly consecrated to the contemplative life 
is, also, of contemplative character. It is not accomplished by 
means of the external works of the active apostolate, but solely 
by prayer and immolation. As we believe in the great and living 
reality that constitutes the mystical body of Jesus, we shall have 
no difficulty recognizing the reality and fruitfulness of this 
apostolate . 

All of this is admirably summarized by Saint Therese of the 
Child Jesus: "Charity gave me the key to my vocation. I under- 
stood that if the Church had a body composed of diverse members, 
the most necessary and the most noble could not be lacking to her; 
I understood that the Church had a heart and that that Heart was 
burning with LOVE. I understood that LOVE alone moved the members 
of the Church to act, that if LOVE were extinguished, the Apostles 
would never more preach the Gospel, the Martyrs would refuse to 
shed their blood..." 

You belong to diverse monastic families: with different 
founders, different spiritualities, and even the gifts you have 
received from the Lord are different, but in, all of this you are 
deeply united in your will to live an authentic contemplative life 
in accord with the great spiritual tradition of the Church. In 
your necessary plurality, this contemplative life is one and unique 
I believe that you will have recognized the ideal I have laid out 
before you in this brief address. 

Finally, I repeat to each of you what John Paul II said to 
you at Avila: You "are very necessary to the Church," you "are 
the vanguard of the Church on its way to the kingdom." 

Translated by Sister Ruth Ann Mary, O.P 
Summi t 




We offer here an introduction to an outstanding Dominican contemplative 
nun, Mother Teresa Maria of the Monastery of Olmedo in Spain. Notes sketching 
her spiritual portrait have been compiled by her director, Don Baldomero 
Jimenez-Duque, and presented in a book recently published in Spanish. Sr. Mary 
of the Holy Cross has devoted much time and painstaking care to the translation 
of the book, and it is with joy and appreciation that we present the Preface 
and Chapter One, in the hopes that it may be possible to continue in future 

The fact that so many of Mother Maria Teresa's contemporaries are still 
living is both a help and a hindrance to the work of making her known abroad. 
The help is obvious: we see her through the eyes of those who have lived with 
her, known her voice, her look, the very texture of her life. Yet by the same 
token, it has not been possible as yet to fill in all the details, and especially 
the intricate setting of her life. These things must be filtered with the passing 
of time. Meanwhile, this is a first glimpse. It whets the appetite for more. 

Sister Mary Thomas, O.P. 




The rolled stone glides slowly on, through places where authentic 
witness has been given, and throuyh all times. Wherever it has passed, its 
influence remains. This is the gift of great spirits: they 'roll on,' 
enriched through a variety of encounters, never used up, never diminished. 
They grow through their experiences. Like Jesus, they pass along doing 
good. They take root in the minds of those they meet. The remembrance of 
them yives courage. Their moral and intellectual greatness remains with 
us. Though they have passed out of sight, their presence is a felt reality. 

This is what has happened in the Monastery of the Mother of God in 
Olmedo, in connection with Mother Teresa Maria. Her writings, her 
teachings, her decisions ... her papers, letters, books ... the sound of 
her voice on tapes, the atmosphere of calm and peace: all these are more 
than mere recollections for the Community of the Monastery of the Mother of 
God. There is a presence which lingers in the cloisters, the choir, the 
cells of this simple monastery. This is a phenomenon experienced even by 
strangers and guests visiting the Community . For the members of the 
Community it is an onyoing witness. 

This book attempts to express this reality. Don Baldomero tells us it 
is not a biography of Mother Teresa Maria, but rather a collection of 
notes. Facts are missing, certainly: situations in time, references to 
historical and ecclesiastical circumstances. Missing are those'syntheses 
which would delineate her character in its varying dimensions. Vatican 
Council II is only implicitly alluded to by the liturgical renewal which 
took place in the monastery, by the profound opening out of the missionary 
spirit, and by the freedom and healthy humanism of the true Spirit. Notes 
on Christian spirituality particularly emphasized by this Council are also 

These notes do, however, contain elements for the writing of a 
Diography, elements which are stimulating and which can communicate the 
same enthusiasm which Mother Teresa Maria inspired by her presence. By 
means of these notes the author lets us draw near to this great soul of our 
own times, a soul whose vocation it was to be a rolling stone, and who 
continues to roll. 

"Among Teresa and her friends there had been talk of the vocation of a 
rolling stone,' a soul of prayer, truly contemplative, ever moving towards 
those in need; a soul without fixed abode, unable to put down roots, held 
captive by no one and by nothing." (1) This recalls the freedom and 
expendability of the Lord's disciples, sent forth to announce the Gospel of 
peace. How much confidence this demands of those who entrust themselves to 

Teresa Maria felt called to the hidden life. Yet, she passed through 
many places -- Seville, Belmonte, Olmedo — and from the Monastery of the 
Mother of Cod her spirit continues to roam the world, like the spirits of 
the great Teresas of Avila ana Lisieux. From Olmedo too foundations have 
sprung up in many continents. 


When the responsibilities of Prioress fell to her — and she was born 
to be a spiritual leader in spite of her desire to remain hidden — she 
wrote: "Lord, a new stage is beijinniny in my life now. My commitment to 
holiness is no longer merely personal; it extends to my entire Community." 
(2) She had a growing sense of urgency, ever more pressing. Was hers the 
vocation of 'a rolling stone 1 or was it that of 'a snowball'? It was both. 
It was a vocation to sanctity. A rolling stone meant availability, 
openness, flexibility, freedom of spirit. A snowball meant constant 
growth, presence regardless of the cost, a burden growing ever heavier 
through continual rolling. A snowball is the same within and without. In 
this sense, although bulky, it is transparent. One sees only what it is, 
and nothing more. This vocation is filled through and through with the 
idea of holiness. 

Teresa Maria wrote to a friend in Olmedo just before her transfer from 
Seville: "I believe that what our Lord is offering to you and me is 
sanctity. We dre so familiar with the idea of sanctity that in saying 
this it seems I have said something banal, obvious. Actually, as I see it 
now it is a novelty, and it is this that I long to communicate to you. 
There are no saints, Carmina. Definitely, there are no saints. There are 
too many things to think about, too many affairs which absorb us, too many 
preoccupations, (I do not wish to say what is even more painful, too much 
'I'.) The question of holiness is pushed aside because the twentieth 
century mentality demands this, and claims for itself practically all the 
soul's energy. I see holiness as something so exquisite, so subtle, so 
illusive that it escapes our grasp." (3) 

What is sanctity? "Something so exquisite, so subtle, so illusive." 
That is it. It is life, flowing, rolling on but with a new impetus, 
interior and profoundly sensitive to the movements of the Holy Spirit. 
Those who allow themselves to be moved by Him are saints. There is no 
human criterion for holiness, no human way of generating it in greater or 
lesser degree. We cannot achieve our own sanctity by an increase of 
fasting, of detachment, by less sleep or more charity to the poor, as if 
all these things corresponded to different degrees of holiness. Basically, 
holiness is grace, a gift of God, to be accepted positively. 

There is passivity in receiving, activity in responding: passive and 
active fidelity. It is obvious that sanctity comes forth from the depths 
of the soul in confrontation with the unexpected, with what, at each 
moment, takes one by surprise, rather than from a series of planned 
activities. It is a matter of facing the surprise quality of life or its 
monotony from one's depths, of accepting Love with a response of love and 
trust: "something exquisite, subtle, of the here and now, illusive." 
Vigilance is necessary, an ever fresh attitude of renewed love, so that the 
unexpected may not find one unprepared, the monotonous may not plunge one 
into routine, so that preoccupations and concerns may not distract one from 
the goal . 

"Those who are moved by the Spirit of God are the sons of God." 
(Romans 8:14) "He who draws near to the Lord is made one spirit with him." 
(I Cor. 6:17) This is docility, in perfect harmony with the Spirit of God. 


It is the state of the greatest connaturality with His movement. If to be 
docile means to be teachable, who can be more docile than a little child? 
A child is open and receptive because he is a child; also, he is weak and 
powerless because he is a child. This condition calls for constant growth. 
Everything has to be given to a child; he expects this and is not surprised 
by it. He accepts his dependence happily and finds it quite natural. In 
the supernatural order, the essential signs of this childlike attitude are 
humility, or the recognition of one's own powerlessness and weakness; the 
awareness of God's fatherhood, which gives rise to unlimited confidence in 
His love; and finally a growing desire to be docile to His Spirit, to be 
guided by Him, and to become more and more His child. 

When we look at ourselves, we see our poverty. When we look at God, 
we see Him as Father. The result is that we allow ourselves to be guided 
with complete confidence, like a rolling stone. That is all. 

Don Baldoinero Jimemez-Duque, great guide of souls and penetrating 
judge of the history of spirituality and of the human heart, knew Mother 
Teresa Maria intimately in some of the more difficult stages of her 
'rolling.' He offers us a first-hand glimpse of her spirit in the present 
work of Christian spirituality. May it produce all the fruit it promises 
and deserves, for the glory of God. 

Jose Delicado 
Archbishop of Valladolid 

AUTHOR'S NUTE: This is not a biography of Mother Teresa Maria, but 
merely a collection of notes which might be of use to a future biographer. 
They are written principally by her, as will be seen. The testimonies of 
her nuns also form a major contribution. The rest is a bundle of sheaves 
from my own gleanings. Perhaps I should have done better to have said 
less. But I shall leave it as it is — my own personal tribute to this 
admirable and much admired woman. — B.J.D. 



Teresa was born in Puentecaldelas(Pontevedra) on Christmas day, 1917, 
at nine in the evening. Her parents were Don Jose Maria Orteya Ijazo and 
Dona Manuela Pardo Valdemar — Galician and Aragonese blood — a difficult 
combination, but successfully blended. He was a native of Teruel but had 
been appointed head of the telegraph service in Puentecaldelas where he met 
and married Dona Manuela. He was a man of great intellectual, moral and 
religious qualities. Dona Manuela was a deeply religious woman, a woman 
with a keen sense of responsibility leading to heroism in the fulfillment 
of her duties as wife and mother. Her temperament was Celtic — softened 
by the fresh airs of the sea and the virgin forests of Galicia. 

Teresa Angela Maria was baptized in the parish church of St. Eulalia 
on January 9th, 1918. Two more children were to follow: Encarnita and 
Gregorio. The parish register gives the year of her first holy communion 
as 1925, the only record we have of the event. We know little of her early 
childhood, only that she was greatly attached to her mother. When she was 
five, her father wanted to take her with him to Teruel to visit his own 
family, but the child would not consent to leave her mother. Years later, 
when her mother died, Teresa felt the loss keenly, but rose above her 
suffering with characteristic energy. She once remarked, "No one could 
ever fill the void left by my mother's death." She had a deep love for her 
father and aunts, but the memory of her mother remained fresh throughout 
her life, wherever she might travel. 

In 1926 Don Jose Maria was transferred back to Teruel and it was here 
that Dona Manuela died on September 12th, 1927. The widower and his 
orphans depended now on his sisters: Lola, wife of General Isidoro Ortega; 
Maria, wife of Don Emilio Bonilla, ana Encarnacion who was unmarried and 
who became a second mother to the three children. 

Teresa, though very feminine, cared little as a child for playing 
house or raising a family of dolls, pasttimes so intriguing to most of the 
small girls she knew. Her preference lay with outdoor games such as 
jumprope, quoits, various ball games and a favorite sport which involved 
throwing the 'devil' up over the highest buildings and then catching him 
with a halter. This game she invariably won. We are also told that she 
was an expert juggler. Her audience would watch enthralled as she threw 
her balls one after another into the air to form an elliptical curve and 
deftly caught each one with never a miss. 

At indoor gatherings Teresa was fond of reciting poetry, some of it 
composed by herself. When company was expected, she would beg her Aunt 
Encarna to call her. She would appear in a gay scarf and with much grace 
recite the poetry of her choice. She once put into verse an entire novel 
written by Father Colona, S.J. 

Teresa's first teacher, particularly in mathematics, was her father. 
Her aunts also arranged to have a professor come to the house to teach the 
two girls, but he found it difficult to get much cooperation from them. 
They simply hid in the attic to avoid his classes. Eventually the girls 
were sent to a Franciscan academy as boarding students 


How should we describe Teresa's personality duriny these first years 
of adolescence and youth? She was very graceful, sympathetic, happy, a 
yood friend. Everyone liked her. She knew how to create a worm, friendly 
atmosphere because of her affectionate and pleasiny nature. She had a fine 
artistic sense, studyiny music with her Aunt Encarna and playiny the piano 
with proficiency. Whatever she set her hand to succeeded, and she 
invariably led in classes arid yames. She had a strony will and was very 
independent, likiny to undertake new and difficult projects and carryiny 
them throuyh with firmness. Enhanciny all these yifts was an irresistible 
power of persuasion. This composite imaye of Teresa never dimmed; rather, 
its lines were etched ever more deeply with the passiny of time. 

The beyinninys of bad health beyan to appear at this period. Teresa 
suffered pains in her stomach and frequent indiyestion. These symptoms 
defied diaynosis and were to remain and increase throughout her life. 
Since her mother's death Teresa had yrown somewhat reserved, and at the aye 
of thirteen, with the natural crisis of adolescence, this reserve was 
intensified. Her family surrounded her with kindness, but at the same time 
with demands. Their cult of "rectitude and exactness" was typical of 
Christian families of the period. Teresa adapted to this environment with 
simplicity and yrace but lost nothing of her native viyor and independence. 
At about this time a youny man became interested in her and she responded, 
but manayed to hide everything from the family. This situation soon 
created many difficulties for her at home, occasioning frequent reprimands. 
The brief adventure came to an abrupt end, leaving no notable repercussions 
in later life. It may have been the needed stimulus for her to launch out 
definitively in a new direction. 

Teresa was now fifteen years old. What to do? In Teruel, as in all 
of Spain, these were years of the second republic; fermentation of ideas 
and attitudes was widespread. The Christian faith was being shaken. It 
was more demanding, more exacting. It was being purified. Alarmed by all 
these events and by Teresa's personal crisis as well, her family, and 
particularly her aunts, felt urged to give her a stronger formation in 
religion and in the apostolate. Providentially, several persons assisted 
them in this matter. Don Manuel Hinojosa, a very holy priest and close 
friend of the family, became her spiritual director at this time. He died 
a martyr in 1936; Teresa kept an indelible memory of him, and held him in 
yreat veneration. Another influential person in her life was Dona Dolores 
Albert, wife, mother and ardent apostle in the field of Catholic Action, 
who initiated a yroup of youny people, Teresa amony them, in this work. Of 
later siynificance was Teresa's meeting with Julieta Elipe, a young girl 
deeply involved in the apostolate. Everyone and everything contributed to 
what might be called Teresa's "conversion," or better, her "surrender" to 
the challenge of a totally uncompromising Christian life, whatever the 

Let us take a look at Catholic Action in the years following the 
second world war. This movement had deep significance, ana its 
sociological influenced reached to all the Church and the whole environment 
of life in Spain in those days. It was a movement which generated secular 
groups of men and woman of all ages in an authentic Christian sense. The 
spiritual life was deeply cultivated. In many, it gave rise to an 
apostolic and social restlessness variously translated into action and 
further engendering more specific movements to meet different circumstances 
or needs which arose. It was a Catholic Action which matured during the 
difficulties of the republic, then during the war years, and still later 


after the war. It drew propagandists of all kinds: organizational 
leaders, catechists, judges, politicians, martyrs. But as often happens 
with broad movements, its "gas energy" began to disappear little by little, 
especially at the end of the fifties. Between the thirties and fifties, 
however, its history was glorious, and it still awaits its historians. _ 

Such was the atmosphere Teresa breathed during those years. In Teruel 
the Catholic Action groups were alive and vigorous. She received much; her 
potential was on the increase. 

Given her great qualities and aptitude, Teresa soon began to act as 
propagandist of the group in her own town and further afield. She was 
highly intelligent and articulate; her generosity was firm and growing. 
Her life was rooted in solid spirituality and flowered in deep devotion to 
the Eucharist and a total personal surrender. Even in those early years 
she was often doubled up with pain when addressing groups. Her father 
encouraged her to utter fidelity to her commitments whatever the cost. We 
learn from her that she often rehearsed tier talks before her family, 
usually on the terrace of their home in Oaroca where they vacationed. 

The following incident illustcates Teresa's availability and her gift 
for relating to her audience. Just before the tragedy of Teruel, towards 
the beginning of the war, a military officer asked a priest to give a talk 
to his soldiers. Unable to meet the request at the time, the priest wrote 
and asked Teresa to give the talk in his place. The officer delivered the 
letter to Teresa, under the impression that she was being asked to find 
another priest. She read the letter, then astonished him by quietly saying 
that she she would gladly address his soldiers. He acquiesced, but 
prepared the soldiers in advance for the unexpected situation. When the 
moment arrived there were, inevitably, murmurs, smiles between questions 
and roguish remarks from the youthful group. Here was a young girl of 
about twenty, graceful but frail looking, proposing to speak to them about 
religion. It took Teresa a mere five minutes to turn the group into an 
amazed, fascinated and absorbed audience. Had she been a priest they would 
probably all have wanted to go to confession. Happenings like this were 
frequent . 

War broke out in 1936. In December of 1937 the great battle of 
Teruel began and lasted until February, 1938. At the beginning of January 
the last resources of the heroic city had fallen into the hands of the 
Communists. They were retrieved however by the Nationals the following 

The tragedy that befell Teresa and her family during those terrible days is 
not easy to describe. Since the city was under attack for twenty-four 
days, they first took refuge in a cave, and later in a military post held 
by the Nationals, amidst explosions and crumbling buildings, as well as 
hunger, thirst and death on all sides. In some brief autobiographical 
notes Teresa describes how she and another young girl ventured out to save 

the BDsssed Sacrament in the church of San Juan, and how she later conceived 
the idea of making hosts so that the priest could celebrate the Eucharist 
and distribute Holy Communion. But we will let her tell us. She recounts 
how they returned to the cave from San Juan Church, but soon had to abandon 
it because of the danger of suffocating or of being blockaded: 


"We started out towards the military post held by the Nationals. We 
could not reach the school, another point of defense. All the wire cables 
were on the ground, we were walking over them. Total destruction 
everywhere ... all the houses had fallen ... it was night, and we had not 
so much as a flashlight with us ... all was thick darkness, and freezing 
... twenty below zero ... without water, soiled and exiled, walking on 
frozen ground, we were on a terrible pilgrimage without any fixed 
destination or hope. 

"But deep within was an invisible, mysterious source of strength 
accompanying us in our exile ... it seemed impossible, yet He was with us! 
It was my good fortune to be the one to carry Him ... how tremendous ... 
what strength! 

"We arrived at ihe post and found some priests there. 1 could no 
longer keep the secret ;it would not be just. 1 spoke to a Franciscan 
Father and he told me to give him the Blessed Sacrament. Afterwards, I 
wept for having spoken. If I had kept silent no one would have known that 
I carried the Hosts. But I knew I had to speak. With these Hosts, all 
received Holy Communion. I asked Father for the corporals, and preserved 
them them with the utmost care. 

"The siege lasted twenty-four days. Our greatest anguish was not to 
be able to receive Communion daily. If only we could do that! But there 
were no more Hosts reserved, no forms or machines to make hosts ... I 
looked for two flat hand irons and heated them. Then I hunted for some 
flour and water ... water was so scarce that many died of thirst. With the 
water and flour 1 made a light dough and put it between the irons. The 
resulting forms were unshapely and there was much flour on them — but God 
descended there — the Franciscan Father consecrated daily ... what 
mystery!... 'I saw Him coming from the threshing floor...' We had 
Communion every day from that time on." 

Then came surrender and imprisonment for all. They were first taken 
to Segorbe, then to Valencia. There followed a month of agony and torture 
— and without the Eucharist! At the end of this period Teresa was set 
free but her family remained in prison. She was taken in by a family which 
had been evacuated from Teruel . Soon she encountered her Eucharistic Lord 
again. Yet more: she was given charge of taking Holy Communion to others. 
She made her rounds, carrying her Burden in a small box to designated homes 
and even to prisons. She came to be called "the (Ciboriurn child." 

On March 30th, 1939, Valencia was liberated and a new life opened up 
for Teresa. Immediately and swiftly she resumed her studies and began her 
work for a bachelor's degree. Then she started her studies in philosophy 
and literature in the same University of Valencia in November of 1941 and 
continued them through 1943 in Zaragoza where her family had moved. She 
took her final examination in September, 1945, and received her licentiate 
on May 13th of the following year. 

Teresa's studies were brilliant. She drew many of her peers and even 
her professors, exercising an irresistible spiritual influence upon them. 
One who knew her well at this time testifies: "Her university career was 
an aqueduct opening into the apostolate." Professors, university 
students, institutes, colleges, all opened their doors to her and she 


penetrated deeply. She enjoyed a similar relationship with younger boys 
and girls, children, the elderly. Her open friendliness, her penetrating 
glance so fascinating and so charged with life, appeared to them as simply 
an interesting experience. Then before they knew what was happening she 
reached an intimacy with them. They found it easy to open their hearts to 
this new friend, who seemed to be able to find solutions for all their 
problems, and whose horizons were broad enough to include their loftiest 

During her years as a university student Teresa workea out a 
definitive plan of total surrender to the Lord. The Teresiun Institute, 
where she had made her studies for her bachelor's degree in Teruel and 
Valencia, and the Opus Dei which her brother and sister had joined, 
attracted her attention. She was greatly interested in both, particularly 
the former. But she decided to remain independent, working within the 
framework of Catholic Action with complete dedication and with greater 
freedom for her life of prayer, already very deep. It may have been the 
life-style of some of the other young girls in her Catholic Action group 
which influenced her and led her to her final decision. In any event, for 
ten years, from 1945 to 1955, she was outstanding in the movement, totally 
surrendered to her own personal sanctif ication and to the works of the lay 

Teresa had worked as a promoter in Valencia; she became even more 
active in Zaragoza. Her fields of action had been the universities, 
institutes, colleges. In 1946 she was officially named Speaker for for 
the Catholic Action groups in the Archdiocese of Zaragoza. It was here 
that she would give her full measure ._ 

Her first preoccupation was to organize a school for propagandists. 
Courses insured a structured, systematized and permanent formation. But 
the immortal soul was for her the most important factor, and this she 
brought out clearly in all her classes and talks. Her zeal fired countless 
young girls; the influence perdured. Some of these girls became 
particularly intimate with Teresa, sharing more deeply in her way of life, 
her prayer, discussions held in her home, and in frequent trips. 

To intensify propaganda and make it work, Teresa restructured the map 
of the diocese according to parishes. She promoted the nomination of 
parish propagandists, organizing cursillos, dialogues, retreats — whatever 
type of meeting was required in order to reach everyone. She and her 
promoters did the circuit of the whole diocese, parish by parish. They 
organized weeks for young people, for mothers, and other more solemn 
gatherings and celebrations. She became a well-known figure throughout the 
diocese. Her human qualities, but still more the spirit which animated 
her, were extraordinary. Because of this her activity as a propagandist 
and a leader in formation had an enormous impact. Let us take a look at 
some of the reasons for her success. 

The solid foundation of Teresa's doctrine, and the clarity and 
penetratinq force with which she communicated it, formed a generation of 
totally responsible young girls: true Christians. They took their 
formation, with all its practical consequences, very seriously. Thus in 
their turn they could launch out into the apostolate in countless different 
ways. Teresa was sometimes accusea of demanding too much. She answered, 
"It is not I who make the demands. I simply confront them with demanding 
situations." Christianity truly accepted and lived inevitably leads to 
holiness. Of all these young girls some, Teresa herself first, entered 
religious life. This is normal wherever the Christian life is intensely 
cultivated. But there were many who became exemplary mothers of families. 


Teresa was also accused of fomenting enthusiasm for a life of 
virginity and by the same token of depreciating marriage. This was not the 
case. Actually, she spoke on marriage with such enthusiasm and unction 
that those who heard her were convinced that she must be in love herself 
and planning to marry soon. But whenever the occasion offered — and this 
was frequent in the context of forming young girls — and Teresa spoke on 
the religious life, vocation, surrender, consecrated virginity, her own 
passion for these themes would be roused, ana she would move her hearers 
deeply. If the small seed of such a vocation were present in the heart of 
anyone listening to her, Teresa's words could activate it impetuously and 
decisively. Illusion might play a part in all this, as so frequently 
happens among overly eager and open young people. The following testimony 
shows Teresa as a former of strong souls. 

"I met her as a propagandist giving a cursillo to the young girls of a 
Catholic Action group. She impressed me at first as a very simple person 
who gave herself to everyone in turn. On the supernatural level, however, 
she was unique. .Contact with her challenged me to aim at the heights. 
Above all, her gaze radiated purity and depth. I can say in all txuth that 
she changed my life. She guided me to God. In a word, she lifted my 
Christian life to a higher level. Later, in moments of great trial when I 
did not know how to respond to Cod's will with generosity, she, with a 
charity which led her to sacrifice time, energy and whatever else was 
needed, helped me to overcome all obstacles definitively. This was an 
excellent preparation for confronting the difficulties which were to come 
my way later. Her words, her life, were so convincing that you could not 
help realizing it all came from God. Near her, I felt safe. 

"Our friendship became more intimate with the passing of time, and 1 
was admitted into her family circle. Once when we were at the home of her 
Aunt Encarna, that dear and delightful collaborator of all her enterprises, 
her aunt disagreed with her on some point which escapes me now. Teresa 
responded somewhat brusquely. The next day she hesitated to go to 
Communion without first going to Confession. She asked her aunt's 
forgiveness with emotion and with great simplicity and sincerity. She said 
to her, 'Aunt, do you know what the priest said? He warned me not to be 
as pure as an angel and as proud as a devil.' There was an expression 
of_pain on her face, and not content to tell her aunt only, she came to me 

There is no need to insist on the charism inspiring her work as a 

Everywhere she went she gave rise to waves of enthusiasm. She addressed 
girls in formation, organized activities for all classes of people, — 
young boys, girls, parents, children. Priests too consulted her on many 
problems and questions. Such was the confidence her personality inspired. 
But her activity was not limited to the diocese of Zaragoza. It soon 
spread further abroad and she began receiving invitations from various 
groups, from priests and even from bishops, to speak or direct courses and 
weekly sessions and to intervene in more demanding and significant 
activities. By 19i?0 her engagements multiplied to overflowing. This was 
the Holy Year, and preparations for it increased her apostolic work. It 
was during this year that she was able to get away fgr a few days on 
pilgrimage to Rome. Of this we shall speak later. 


We cannot give here the itinerary of her various trips throughout 
Spain. Perhaps it can never be reconstructed. The principle places she 
visited were Teruel, Palencia, Valladolid, Soria, Avila, Salamanca, 
Caceres, Valencia, Alicante. During a period of convalescence after her 
first surgical operation in Zaragoza in 1950 she spent a few days in 
Palencia with a friend of her family. This gave her an opportunity to 
establish contacts for apostolic works and to prepare the ground for later 
activities, especially for the Marian Year of 1954. A witness writes about 
this period: 

'Many young people came from different parts of the diocese of 
Palencia. Young girls would gather around Teresa after each talk. To hear 
her speak changed one's life. It was at this time that she bound herself 
to an intense Marian focus at the Shrine of Pesquera, where a piatform was 
improvised under a tree to take in the immensity of the great esplanade 
filled with people coming from the surrounding districts. Here she 
addressed the multitudes which were presided over by the bishop and a great 
number of priests and civil authorities. Teresa did this frequently in 
other places, always adapting herself to the special character of the 

further notable activities were pursued in Penafiel, Aranda de Duero, 
Burgos de Osma. The year 1955 was extraordinarily full. This was the 
period immediately preceding Teresa's entrance into the cloister, and it 
seems that before the flash of fire turned inward it had to reach its 
maximum of vibration and expansion outwardly. Alcoy, Onteniente, Algemisi, 
Carcagente saw the flame pass by. It was in Onteniente that she met Don 
Basilio Sancho, a priest who would be of great assistance to her monastery 
in Olmedo. Here also she visited a hospital for tubercular patients and 
without fear of contagion spoke to them directly and simply. Then came 
Aranda de Duero and the Eucharist ic Congress in Fuentes de San Esteban; 
next, Viliamiel, Fuenteguinaldo, Ciudad Rodrigo. Still later there were 
more weekly meetings for young people and mothers. During these meetings 
Teresa organized nocturnal prayer vigils in spacious halls, usually the 
theatres of the place. Men of all ages joined these after work and 
listened to her talks, which usually developed into profound and gripping 
dialogues and discussions on serious questions. One priest was heard to 
say, "After these talks, I spend long hours in the confessional!" 

We are now on the threshold of the Convent of Seville, where Teresa 
wanted to "hide her weakness in the power of God." 

Translated by Sister Mary of the Holy Cross 5 0P 



Raymond Creytens, O.P. 

The monastery of St. Dominic of Montargis (in the Department of Loiret, 
between Sens and Orleans) is well known in the history of the Dominican sis- 
ters of the 13th century. It owes its importance to the role that it played 
in the involvements which, in the course of the first half of the century, 
troubled the good relations between the sisters and the brothers of the Order 
of Preachers. The cause of this conflict is well known: namely, the ever- 
growing number of monasteries, either affliated with or incorporated into 
the Order, threatened to paralyze the ministry of the brethren; hence, the 
efforts of these latter to get free from this charge, efforts which encounter- 
ed the energetic resistance of the sisters. Let us briefly recall the princi- 
pal phases of this struggle in which the monastery of Montargis played an 
active role . 

At the death of St. Dominic, three monasteries were under the jurisdic- 
tion of the Order: Prouille, Madrid, and St. Sixtus of Rome. The two first 
had been founded by the holy Patriarch; the last was reformed and reorganized, 
by order of Honorius III, by St. Dominic with the help of the Dominican sisters 
of Prouille. In the course of the ensuing years, this number increased and 
soon formed a serious obstacle to the ministry of the brothers. A reaction 
was not long in coming. The brothers insisted, and demanded, and finally suc- 
ceeded, after many approaches towards their superiors in the Order and to the 
papal court, in getting themselves freed from the direction and the administra- 
tion of the monasteries of sisters. This was October 25, 1239- The decree 
of Gregory DC threw the sisters into desolation. Nevertheless, overcome but 
not discouraged, they soon returned to the charge. The monastery of St. Sixtus, 
thanks to the papal favor that it enjoyed by reason of its origins, wa6 the 
first to succeed in having itself reintegrated into the bosom of the Order . 
This was in 12UU . 

The others followed quickly, with Montargis at the head. At the end of 
12UU and/or in the beginning of I2U5, its foundress, Amicie de Montfort, addres- 
sed herself to the Pope and obtained by a bull of April 8, 12U5, the official 
incorporation of the monastery into the Order. The breach had been made; the 
monasteries, one after the other, had recourse to the Holy See with full suc- 
cess. On May 7 of that same year, St. Agnes of Strasbourg; on the Uth of 
the following July, Saint Mark of Strasbourg; and they were soon followed by 
a host of other monasteries which obtained the same concession. At the end 
of 12U6, thirty or so monasteries were confided to the direction and to the 
care of the brothers. The sisters sang a song of victory. The brothers, for 
their part, tried first of all to attenuate the range of the bulls of incorpo- 
ration by limiting the charges that they contained to the spiritual realm, 
and they did succeed in this plea. On April U, 12U6, Innocent IV excused 
them from the administration of the temporal affairs . 

Did the brothers try to apply at Montargis the interpretive bull of 
April U, 12U6V This is very probable, because on October 12 of the following 
year, the 6isters had confirmed by the Pope the privilege of incorporation of 
April 8, I2U5. This state of affairs remained until September 26, 1252, where 
the sisters lost, in a single blow, everything they had won. In effect, a 
bull of Innocent IV, dated on this day, completely exonerated the brothers from 
the "cura roonialiura", the care of the nuns, with the exceptions of the raonas- 
of Prouille and of St. Sixtus . This measure brought with it unfortunate 


consequences for the discipline and the administration of the monasteries . 
The sisters of Montargis complained bitterly about this to the Pope in a 
supplication that they addressed to him in the end of 1256. No doubt the 
sisters exaggerated, because it seems that they had not suffered from this 
decree of separation. A letter that Humbert of Romans, provincial of France, 
6ent them in December of 1253 shoved him occupied with the government of 
the monastery. Their procedure had rather as its goal the sanctioning by the 
Pope of a de facto situation. One will soon understand their apprehension. 

Soon after the decree of separation of 1252, the sisters began again 
their entreaties with Pope Innocent IV. He, whose policies towards the sis- 
ters was fluctuating, found himself in an impasse. He got out of this by 
giving an order to the Dominican cardinal, Hugh of St. Cher, on February l8, 
125h, to settle this delicate question. The cardinal was a friend of the 
sisters. Hence the question was resolved in their favor. In a short time 
most of the monasteries came back again under the jurisdiction of the Order, 
at least provisionally until the cardinal was able to conclude a definitive 
agreement with the Master General. Montargis was, no doubt, among the privi- 
leged monasteries. But this provisory state did not satisfy the sisters of 
Montargis. Were they afraid of disagreeable surprises on the part of the 
Order, or had they run out of patience? In any case, they did not wait for 
the definitive decision of the Order. While deliberations were still going 
on, they went to the Pope and asked for the definitive incorporation into 
the Order, which Alexander IV conceded to them on January 23, 1257. Thus 
was ended, at least for Montargis, the struggle to belong to the Order. For 
the other monasteries, too, the matter did not drag on. In 1259 all the 
monasteries that had formerly been committed to the direction of the brothers 
came back under the jurisdiction of the Order. Finally, Clement IV by his 
bull of February 6, 1267, put an end to the long quarrel and regulated, once 
and for all, the juridical status of the Dominican sisters. 

One would like to know the origins and the internal organization of the 
monastery of Montargis, which in the course of this struggle had shown itself 
to be so deeply attached to the Order. This ardent love was owed by the sis- 
ters in the first place to their foundress, the Countess of Joigny, Amicie 
de Montfort, daughter of Simon de Montfort and of Alix de Montmorency. The 
profound friendship which linked St. Dominic to the Count of Montfort is well 
kno^n. Amicie inherited this affection to the point, we are told by the 
anonymous author of the little Chronicle of the Order which was written towards 
1260, that she encouraged her son to enter the Order: "Amicie de Joigny, a 
woman of a great name and a holy woman, many tii^es wished that her only son, 
who was of excellent demeanor, would enter the Order if the brothers should 
wish. And when he came to his last moments, he, while in the army of the 
king of the French on Cyprus, did take our habit and became a brother." The 
chronicler adds: "She also, as she herself said, because she was not a man 
had not been able to be a brother, but in order that she might be at least a 
sister, created the house of the sisters of Montargis and endowed it well, 
in which a number of fifty sisters was established who flourished with a 
special prerogative of holiness and religion in France, and it is among them 
that she rests buried. She was of such fervor and of such heart in the promo- 
ting of the aforesaid house that when, because of the opposition of many of 
the brothers, she had not been able to have the permission to construct it 
m any way from the Order, in her own person she went many times to the papal 


court and obtained the most efficacious letters to bring about her desire. 

lb is is all that is Known on the origin and the first times of the 
monastery of Montargis . Outside this little Chronicle of the Order, we know 
of no ancient or contemporary source which adds the slightest detail as to 
the foundation, or as to the first internal organization of the monastery. 

In the 18th century, there still existed at Montargis a chronicle of 
the monastery which included a history of its first origins. The authors of 
the work "Gallia Christiana" knew of this and used it in their note on the 
monastery of Montargis. This chronicle appears today to be lost. Some ex- 
tracts of it are kept in the collection A of the general archives of the 
Order in Rome, in which we have the following passages which refer to the 
origins of the monastery: 

"Aroicie, this pious lady, finding herself free after the loss she under- 
went of the Count of Joigny, her husband, and since the place of her chapel 
where St. Dominic had preached belonged to her, she gathered together there 
a number of young ladies of the best houses to live there devoutly. She gave 
funds for their subsistence and had made for them small lodgings each one 
separate from the other, which consisted of a little house between a court 
and a garden which was very suitable. Sne caused to be built a beautiful 
church and she had made a large enclosure surrounded with walls, and still 
not being satisfied with what she had done, which consisted of a group of, 
so to speak, "canonesses" with proof of nobility, she wished subsequently to 
place them in the Order of St. Dominic." 

It is not easy to distinguish in this narration the part played by legend 
and the part of truth. The elements to decide this are lacking and history 
says nothing on the author of the Chronicles, nor on the date of its drawing 
up. But legendary elements are certainly not lacking in it. We read in fact, 
in this same narration, that the foundation of the monastery goes back to the 
years 1207 or thereabouts. This date is, no doubt, connected with the legend 
according to which St. Dominic, at the time of his first trip to France, 
preached in a chapel of the region vhich one believes to be situated at the 
outskirts of Montargis, at the gates of Montargis, in the parish of Amilly. 
One would no doubt be much closer to the truth if one were to place the founda- 
tion at about 12^+5, soon before the incorporation of the monastery into the 
Order . A woman as influential as Amicie certainly did not wait a long time 
before bearing the cause of incorporation before the Pope once the superiors 
of the Order had refused her . 

On the other hand, one can also suppose that Amicie, given her relations 
with the Order, soon made a demand, a petition, to the brothers soon after, 
if not during the very foundation of the monastery. The author of this little 
Chronicle says that she founded the monastery to create for herself a spiritual 
retreat where she could lead a Dominican life. According to the author of 
this Chronfcle, we would even have to admit that she founded the monastery at 
the time that she was taking steps with the papal court to obtain its incorpora- 
tion into the Order, but perhaps the chronicler mixes together, or confuses, 
the events. It follows from the bull of Innocent IV of April 8, 121+5, that 
at the time of this petition, the monastery wa6 already regularly constituted. 

This is what we know about the origins of the monastery. Historians add 
that the foundress, Amicie of Montfort, fixed at fifty the number of aiigious . 
This is an error of interpretation of the text of the little Chronicle of the 
Order . One knows from the letter of Humbert of Romans that in December of 1253 
the monastery numbered only forty-five religious, and it was only at this time 
that the provincial fixed at fifty the maximum number of religious. 



The author of the little Chronicle of the Order has a beautiful eulogy 
of the religious life of the monastery of Montargis about which he says that: 
"The sisters shone in France with the special prerogative of sanctity and 
religion." The time is about 1260, soon after the crisis of the sisters and 
a few years after their incorporation into the Order. Montargis became then, 
in short order, a place of sanctity and intense religious life. Aroicie, that 
"woman of a great name and that holy woman", contributed, no doubt, to this 
in a great part, but one must look for the principal reason for this to the 
excellency of the constitutions, which have been preserved for us and which 
are the object of the present study. 

The catalogue of the manuscripts of the royal Library of The Hague 
indicates to us under the heading TO H 66 the following works : l) Consuetudi- 
nes sororum ordinis Praedicatorum, 1253 and 1256, pp. l-19 v ; 2) The Rule of 
St. Augustine with the commentary of Hugh of St. Victor, pp. 20-?6. The manu- 
script, according to the description given of it, was written in France around 
1300, on parchment, and comprises seventy-six pages. It belonged formerly to 
N.J. Foucault (161+3-1721), and was bought by the Library in 1828. The collection 
is composed of two distinct parts bound together at a date which is not given. 

In another place in the catalogue, the author comes back to the first 
part of the manuscript with the words: "Statuta sororum ordinis Praedicatorum 
(of the monastery of the Dominican sisters of Montargis, 125 J and 1256), pp. 1- 
19; on parchment; around 1256; written in France probably at Montargis; with 
decorated initials; and belonging formerly to De (?) Beaussefaict and Laroche- 
Souville . 

Let us complete this description bj several other more precise notes. The 
constitutions of the sisters occupy in the manuscript pp. l r to l8 r . Here is 
the beginning: "Quoniam ex precepto regule iubentur sorores nostre habere cor 

unum et animara unam Expl. sicut et fratres ordinis studeatis eas diligenter 

et fideliter observare ad laudem et gloriam Jesu Christi qui est benedictus 
in secula seculorum, amen. Commemoratio fratrum, sororum, familiariura bene- 
factorum defunctorum ordinis nostri." To the constitutions there is joined a 
letter of which these are the beginning and ending words : "Devotis ancillis 
Christi, priorisse et sororibus beati dominici de monte argi, frater humbertus 
fratrum predicatorum in francia prior indignus celestium plenitudinem gratia- 
rum. Notum vobis fieri locus alicui antequam vaccet aliquatenus 
concedatur . Actum anno domini millesimo ducentesimo quinquagesimo tercio, 
mense decerabri." In this letter, unpublished so far as I know, Humbert of 
Romans fixes the monastery of Montargis, which is subject to him as provincial 
of France, the maximum number of religious: fifty, and determines the revenues 
which the sisters shall dispose .of . He subsequently forbids under pain of 
nullity that any postulant be admitted who does not fulfill the conditions 
prescribed in his letter. Finally, he commands that his ordinations be placed 
at the head of the constitutions, in order that no one be aole to invoke in 
his defense ignorance of the law. 

The letter permits us to identify these constitutions with the statutes 
of Montargis. Otherwise, how are we to explain the presence of the letter of 
Humbert at the end of these constitutions'; It is certain, moreover, that 
these statutes were composed for sisters of the province of France. In the 
prologue, as at the end of the constitutions, it is expressly stated that the 


Bisters belong to the jurisdiction of the provincial of France. But in 1253, 
Montargis was the only monastery in France incorporated into the Order. Die re 
is thus no possible doubt on the origin of the statutes which the manuscript 
of the Hague preserves for us. 


The constitutions of the sisters of Montargis occupy in the history of 
the legislation of the sisters a quite special place. Up until now historians 
connected the official constitutions of Humbert of 1259 vith the statutes of 
Prouille and of St. Sixtu6 without suspecting the existence of an intermediary 
form. The truth is quite otherwise, as we hope to prove in what follows. 
First of all, let us try to determine the age of our constitutions. The 
following ordinance which one finds in them will supply us with the means. 

"Statuimus insuper ut si contingat de cetero aliquas consuetudines que 
monialibus competunt in predicto ordine (i.e. Praedicatorum) confirmari, 
magister ordinis vel prior provincialis Francie qui pro tempore fuerint, eas 
vobis non differant exhiberi, quas vos etiam cum humilitate ct devotione sus- 
cipientes sicut et fratres ordinis studeatis eas diligenter et fideliter ob- 
servare" (We ordained, moreover, that if it sbould come about that any consti- 
tutions which apply to nuns should be confirmed in the aforesaid Order (i.e., 
of Preachers), the Master of the Order, or the prior provincial of France of 
the time, will not delay to show them to you. And receiving them with humility 
and devotion, may you strive to follow them and observe them diligently and 
faithfully, just as the brothers of the Order do). 

The constitutions of the sisters follow then closely those of the 
brothers . The ordinances which have become constitutions by the approbation 
of three consecutive General Chapters have the force of law for the sisters in 
proportion, it goes without 6aying, as they are applicable to their state and 
their condition. This will be the case generally of those constitutions 
which regulate the internal organization of the convent or the monastery, or 
of those concerned with liturgy and monastic observances . Taking into account 
this prescription, it will not be hard to date the statutes preserved in the 
Hague manuscript. The statutes contain the constitutions promulgated in the 
General Chapters of 1249, 1248, and the preceding years . But none, on the 
contrary, from the years 1250 and following. In their actual form, the 
statutes of Montargis represent then the legislation in vigor in the monastery 
around 1250 or, more exactly, from 1249 to 1251. We do not place them between 
1249 and 1250, because in this la6t year the General Chapter of London made 
no law which was applicable to the sisters. The "terminus before which", 
1251, on the contrary, 16 certain since several "constitutions" of this year 
were also concerned with the sisters, and yet they have not been inserted in 
their constitutions. 

We have then fixed the place of the statutes of Montargis in the history 
of the legislation of the sisters. Chronologically, they are situated between 
the constitutions of St. Sixtus and those of Humbert of Romans promulgated 
officially at the General Chapter of Valenciennes in 1259. It remains for us 
to determine their place in the development of the legislation of the sisters. 

The history of this legilaticn be 6 i^s with the constitutions of the 
monastery of Prouille. These were drawn up by St. Dominic with elements bor- 
rowed, it is commonly said, from the statutes of Pre'montre'. No copy has been 


preserved for us. One can only be sorry about this, because they no doubt 
Slowed many resemblances with the first statutes of the brothers composed by 
St. Dominic in 1216. With the help of these constitutions of the sisters, 
one would have been able to reconstitute to a great extent the first legisla- 
tion of St. Dominic for the brothers, because this last also is no longer in 
existence, at least in its original form. But the historians of the Order did 
not think, that the loss of the statutes of Prouille to be as serious as we 
imagine. According to them, these statutes were integrally preserved in the 
rule of St. Sixtus of Rome, which fundamentally is only an extrinsic name for 
the constitutions of Prouille. The sisters of the latter monastery, called 
to Rome by St. Dominic in order to reform there under his direction the 
monastery of St. Sixtus where the religious of St. Mary's in Tempulo and of 
St. Bibianna had withdrawn under order of Honorius III, brought their rule 
and introduced it irio the monastery and gave it the name of the place: Rule 
of St. Sixtus. 

This traditional thesis calls for many reservations. One can easily 
believe that the sisters of Prouille, in reforming the monastery, introduced 
there their manner of life and organized the monastery according to their 
monastic observances. But did they impose their rule without any adaptation? 
This is not very probable. A reform is a delicate matter, and one does not 
overturn with no adieu the manner of living of a monastery which is in con- 
formity, at least in part, with the religious spirit. Why should one change 
or supress laudable customs when these are not contrary to the spirit of the 
new rule? It seems to us to be more in keeping with good sense and prudence 
to admit that the sisters of Prouille absorbed into the rule of St. Sixtus 
everything which in the old rule of the sisters of St. Mary in Tempulo was 
compatible with their monastic ideal. There are, moreover, in the rule of 
St . Sixtus enough indications which are in favor of this opinion . One is 
referred back to the rule of St. Benedict: "prout regula Sancti Benedicti 
permittit" (as the rule of St. Benedict permits); to the Usages of Citeaux: 
'prout in cisterciensi ordine fieri consuevit " (as is customarily carried 
out in the Cistercian Order). These observations certainly do not come from 
the constitutions of Pre'montre'. Elsewhere there are literal borrowings from 
the statutes of the Order of the Gilbertines of Sempringhara, whom Honorius III 
had previously asked to care for the church of St. Sixtus. It seems, conse- 
quently, difficult to maintain the traditional thesis: namely, that the rule 
of St. Sixtus is equated with the rule of Prouille. Rather, we are confronted 
with a new rule where the constitutions of Prouille occupy, perhaps, an 
important place, but not exclusively so; several elements of the old rule 
of the sisters of Rome have been mingled with it as integral parts. It will, 
therefore, not be easy to start out and discern in the rule of St. Sixtus 
the primitive basis which derives from Prouille. And this, of course, would 
be always supposing that the rule of St. Sixtus that we know today is indeed 
the rule in its original form. It is not impossible that the text of the rule 
may have undergone in the course of the first years, at least until its ap- 
probation by Gregory IX before 1232, some modifications which would bring us 
even farther from the primitive form of the rule of Prouille. 

The rule of St. Sixtus constitutes, then, for practical purposes, the 
point of departure in this history of the legislation of Dominican sisters. 
It is soon going to lose its specifically Dominican character. When one 
studies the founding of the greater number of the monasteries of the 13th 
century, one notices that the Popes in approving foundations often imposed 


upon them the rule of "the Order" of the nuns of St. Sixtus of Rome, "ordinis 
monialium Sancti Sixti de Urbe". No allusion is made to the Order of Friars 
Preachers, nor to their constitutions. The rule of St. Sixtus, no doubt 
Dominican in its origins, becomes a form of religious life officially recog- 
nized by the Church, a rule-type for nuns, side by side with that of the 
Cistercians and that of Gregory IX (drawn up for the nuns of Italy when the 
Pope was still a cardinal) . It is a universal rule without direct connections 
with any particular religious order, which creates among the canonesses of St. 
Augustine a special order: the Order of the Nuns of St. Sixtus of Rome. In 
this "order" there will be the possibility of distinguishing several congrega- 
tions which, outside of the fact of the rule of St. Sixtus, have no connection 
with one another. Let us give a concrete example, using the rule of St. 
Augustine. All. the religious orders, which have taken the rule of St. August- 
ine as the basis of their legislation, belong by this very fact to the "Order 
of St. Augustine". But this does not prevent them from being distinct institu- 
tes. The rule of St. Augustine, being fund-mentally only a general form of 
life, it was necessary to complete it by special constitutions which cor- 
responded to the aim and to the special type of apostolate that the different 
religious orders had set out for themselves . In this way one finds in the 
family of the Order of St. Augustine several religious orders, which outside 
of the rule had little or nothing in common. The same is true of the rule 
of St. Sixtus. All the monasteries* which adopted it as a legal basis of their 
institute, belong by that very fact to the "Order of St. Sixtus of Rome". 
Comparable to the religious of the "Order of St. Augustine", the sisters of 
the "Order of St. Sixtus" completed, subsequently, the common rule with statutes 
or constitutions which were special, and distinqui&hed them from one another. 
The statutes of the sisters were not as varied as those introduced into the 
different orders of men religious. The nuns remain still nuns, that is, 
separated from the world, and they did not have the vast field of apostolate 
which necessitated the multiplicity and the variety that came about in the 
orders of men religious . But as to the internal organization of the monastery, 
it was possible to have quite a good deal of differences in the statutes 
brought about by local conditions or social conditions in the different 
monasteries. Thus, the sisters of the Order of Penitents of St. Mary Magdalene 
in Germany, while following the rule of St. Sixtus, adopted, over and above, 
special constitutions appropriate for their special vocation. 

But one should not err about these "additional statutes". It has been 
thought (by Father M.H. Vicaire, O.P., for example) that these additions or 
changes -were introduced into the rule of St. Sixtus just in the same way that 
new ordinations were inserted into the constitutions of religious orders. But 
things did not take place in this way; the rule of St. Sixtus was something 
invariable, just as the rule of St. Augustine. Although conceived in its be- 
tx&nnings as a book of constitutions, it became, by the will of Gregory IX, a 
canonized text to which it was no longer permitted to add the slightest change, 
anymore than to the rule of St. Augustine. When, then, the sisters adopted 
the rule of St. Sixtus, there was not a question of making any changes in it, 
because such a point of the rule was ill-fitted for their monastic idea or 
was contrary to the customs or social conditions of the place. But there was 
necessary, on the other hand, to have a rule of conduct that would oe precise 
and clearly delineated. This is what one hoped to obtain, thanks to a new 
body of statutes which would be the legislative complement of the rule. 


What was the monastery vhich first created such a code? Was it St. 
Sixtus of Rome? Perhaps. In 1232, Gregory IX imposes upon the Penitents of 
St. Mary Magdalene the rule of St. Sixtus, and everything leads one to believe 
that these statutes or constitutions that they adopted at this time come from 
the Roman monastery. This code has been preserved for us. It is clearly 
Dominican in origin, nearly all its prescriptions having been borrowed literal- 
ly from the constitutions of the Friars Preachers in the form that these had 
before 1236. But since it is certain that the Penitents were not under the 
jurisdiction of the Order, it is not probable that these statutes "were drawn 
up for them. The Penitents have borrowed them, no douot (while bringing in 
certain modifications of their own), from a Dominican monastery, perhaps St. 
Sixtus of Rome whose rule they had adopted. These statutes are, in any case, 
very old, certainly from before I236, and in their original state perhaps from 
1230 or thereabouts. They can be considered, consequently, as a typical example 
of constitutions complementing the rule of St. Sixtus. 

But it was not only to supply for the insufficiencies of the rule that 
the monasteries introduced this body of new statutes. The very clearly 
Dominican character of these latter reveals the profound reason. The sisters 
wished to conform themselves to the life of the Friars Preachers, to make 
themselves Dominicans. The rule of St. Sixtus was not enough. It was neces- 
sary, by adding certain complements proper to this end (namely, to give the 
rule Dominican character), to make of it a norm of life according to the 
spirit of St. Dominic without at the same time sacrificing the legal basis 
of the institution. The monastery had been approved as living according to 
the rule of the "Order of St. Sixtus", and as long as it was not officially 
incorporated into a religious order, it was obligated to hold to it. Hence, 
one kept the rule of St. Sixtus, but one added to it a new regulation, 
complementary statutes. As far as possible, one even kept certain parts of 
the rule of St. Sixtus. Hence, one keeps in the statutes of the Penitents 
references back to certain chapters of the rule of St . Sixtus which one thought 
opportune to preserve . But the center of gravity has passed from the rule 
to the new body of constitutions . From day to day, the former gradually loses 
its practical importance to become soon completely eclipsed. The final stroke 
comes with the incorporation of the monasteries into the Order. The rule 
loses its reason for being, the sisters belonging now no longer to the "Order 
of the Nuns of St. Sixtus of Rome", but to the Order of Friars Preachers"-. 
Henceforth, the sisters will be ruled by the constitutions of the Friers 
Preache s adapted to the needs of the sisters. In the bulls of incorporation, 
which came out from 12^5 on, Innocent IV no longer speaks of the rule of St. 
Sixtus j he imposes upon the superiors of the Order that they should furnish 
the Dominican monasteries with a rule modeled on their own constitutions. 

This juridical innovation did not carry with it any great practical 
changes in the legislation of the sisters . Well before the incorporation, 
the sisters were already living according to the constitutions of the Friars 
Preachers, because their complementary statutes were a pure and simple adapta- 
tion of the legislation of the brothers in vigor under Jordan of Saxony. 
Hence, it sufficed to eliminate the rule of St. Sixtus, and to substitute 
for it the statutes which, by this fact, became the legal base of the institutue 
At least this is the way that several monasteries, among others those of 
Germany, interpreted the bulls which incorporated them into the Order. They 
continued to live according to their former legislation. This state of 


affairs lasted until 1259. On this date Humbert of Romans abolished all the 
existing constitutions and replaced them by others which he icposed upon 
all the monasteries subject to the jurisdiction of the Order. We shall soon 
come back to this point. 

Things took place in quite another way in France. Montargis, incorporated 
into the Order in 12^5, Immediately had itself given constitutions that were 
conformable to the new state of the legislation of the brothers . In 12Ul, 
the old constitutions, which had served as a model for the statutes of the 
sisters of Germany, had been replaced by a new body of statutes, the work of 
Raymond of Penafort. Hence, it is natural that the sisters of Montargis took 
the modern constitutions as the base for their legislation. One understands 
that the monasteries of Germany should have kept, even after their incorpora- 
tion, their previous legislation because it pre-eXisted to the drawing-up of 
Raymond of Penafort. But Montargis, according to all appearances, never had 
any other legislation. It seems, indeed, that its foundation goes back to 
the thereabouts of 12^5, that is, to the time of the incorporation which gave 
it a right to the constitutions of the brothers. 

The text of the constitutions of Montargis, which the Hague manuscript 
preserves for us, probably does not represent the original form of the legis- 
lation of the monastery. It dates, as we saw, from the years 1250, and con- 
tains the ordinances of the General Chapters from 12^5 to 1250. Humbert of 
Romans is probably its author. In 12^5, he was the provincial of France and, 
as such, it was up to him to organize and direct the monastery. We Know that 
he was much interested in the legislation of the brothers, as well as that of 
the sisters. In 1256, he promulgated the statutes of the brothers; and in 
1259; "the official constitutions of the sisters. The fact that the constitu- 
tions of Montargis served as a basis for these latter renders his paternity, 
thereof, even more probable. 

Important though they may be, these constitutions did not have a broad 
diffusion. It is indeed stated in the text that the Master General has 
approved them, but there is no sign that John the Teutonic, Master from 12Ul 
to 1252, considered them as obligatory for all the monasteries of the Order, 
as was the case with those of Humbert in 1259. They were limited to the ter- 
ritory of the province of France. In the other provinces, for example in 
that of Germany, one continued to follow the old statutes without ueing con- 
cerned about the innovations of Montargis. We have the proof of this in the 
"Admonitions" of the provincial of Germany addressed to the sisters of his 
province. It is stated there: "Indeed, since in the new constitutions there 
is not made any mention of the mode of life of these (namely, the lay brothers), 
let there be kept what was ordained in the old constitutions under the first 
Master John." The "first Master John" is John the Teutonic - by opposition 
to John of Vercelli (126U-128U) - and the new constitutions are those of 
Humbert of Romans of 1259- By "old constitutions" one certainly means neither 
the constitutions of St. Sixtus nor those of Montargis, whose drawing up falls 
under the government of the Master General (l2Ul-125l) . Nowhere in these 
statutes, nor indeed in those of Humbert, does one speak of lay brothers affli- 
ated with the monasteries, as is the question in the "Admonitions" mentioned 
above. It does not seem, either, that these were constitutions composed by 
John the Teutonic in person, because there is no documentary evidence that the 
Master General had produced such a worK. The old statutes in vigor under 
John the Teutonic are, no doubt, the old constitutions which the sisters pro- 
fessed vhen they were still under the rule of St. Sixtus, but which, subsequent 


to the incorporation, had become a unique and official rule . Perhaps the 
authentic form, thereof, is preserved in the statutes of the Penitents of St. 
Mary Magdalene. There, in any case, one finds a special chapter on the lay 
brothers, which contains concrete prescriptions on their duties and their 
obligations in the monastery. If there were differneces between the old 
rule of Germany and the statutes of the Penitents, they would bare, no doubt, 
only on secondary points. The monasteries of Germany, affliated or incorporated 
into the Order, certainly followed a Dominican rule, identical in substance 
with the statutes of the Penitents, since there is no resemblance to the consti- 
tutions of Montargis. Outside these two typical legislations modeled on the 
constitutions of the brothers from 1228 to 1236 and 12Ul, there was no 
Dominican rule . 

One can ask, nevertheless, if the rule of Germany, about which the 
"Admonitions" speak, was uniform for all the monasteries of the province. The 
problem is not easy to resolve, since all these constitutions have perished. 
Certain indications cause one to lean rather towards the negative. At St. 
Mark of Strasbourg, one had proper constitutions called "constitutions of St. 
Mark", no doubt because they differed from those in vigor in other monasteries. 
This cannot be the "old rule", neither more nor less, which we were speaking 
about above. In such a case, one would not have made a distinction between 
the monasteries which followed the rule of St. Mark and those which did not. 
A second indication is the following: Humbert of Romans, having become Master 
General of the Order in I2.^k, speaks of a multiplicity and a variety of con- 
stitutions; would he have in mind only the two legislative codes preserved, one 
of them in the statutes of the Penitents, the other in those of Montargis? 
One would be closer to the truth, we think, if one were to admit that several 
monasteries, or groups of monasteries, had acquired for themselves, through 
their provincials, constitutions which were proper in this sense that one 
added certain particular ordinances to the common legal base whose substantive 
form is retained in the statutes of the Penitents . 

Whatever may be the truth as to this last point, Humbert deemed the state 
of affairs sufficiently annoying and harmful to the good government of the 
sisters to consider necessary the unification of their constitutions. And • 
here begins the third and final phase in the evolution of the legislation of 
the sisters. On August 27, 1257, Humbert caused himself to be given by the 
Pope the order to elaborate n^w constitutions that would be obligatory for all 
the monasteries subject to the jurisdiction of the Order. The task was not a 
difficult one. Humbert took as his basis the constitutions of Montargis and 
changed certain things there which were necessitated by the universal character 
of the new rule, and the following year this was ready. His promulgation of 
the sole and official law took place at the General Chapter of Valenciennes 
in 1259. 

The legislation of the sisters thus was definitively fixed. Under pain 
of being excluded from the Order, the Dominican monasteries were to abandon 
henceforth their old rules or constitutions and conform their life to the 
new statutes . The ideal was a beautiful one, but its realization ran into 
practical difficulties. One soon saw that the new rule, precisely because of 
its universal character, was too general on certain points and too imprecise 
on others r or did not take sufficiently into account the social conditions of 
the different monasteries . This point could not escape Master Humbert who, 
being wise and prudent, allowed the provincials to introduce into the monasteries 


subject to their jurisdiction a series of ordinations, the "Admonitiones ", 
vhich would regulate down to the details the life of the religious. These 
"Admonitiones" were not properly speaking new constitutions, mymore than 
the "Declarationes " in the legislation of the brothers of which they were the 
counterpart; and, indeed, hence one carefully avoided calling them such. But 
they were, nonetheless, a supplementary law and the equivalent to the statutes 
such as one had invented long before to make explicit, or complete, the old 
rule of St . Sixtus . 

However, they differ from these latter, since the "Admonitions" never 
took shape as a juridical corpus capable of one day replacing the official 
rule of Humbert. They were too particularized for that, limited as they were 
to a determined province and, consequently, without a universal range. Such 
an eventuality was, in any case, excluded by the fact that the rule of Humoert 
fully satisfied the desire the sisters had to conform themselves in everything 
to the life of the brothers, a desire and a tendency which were at the root of 
the first complementary statutes made to the rule of St. Sixtus. 

Hence was completed the evolution of the legislation of the sisters. The 
following schema will allow us to indicate the important place that the consti- 
tutions cf Montargis hold therein (the schema of the author , revised and with 
added comments, will be found on p. 87) 


We have stated above that the constitutions of Montargis are at the basis 
of the legislation which was imposed in 1259 by Master Humbert upon all the 
monasteries subject to the jurisdetion of the Order. In order to convince 
oneself of this it suffices to place the two legislations side by side: that 
of 1259 is manifestly drawn up on the model of Montargis, and as a proof one 
has the identity of structure and, above all, the literal identity of the 
greater part of the chapters which are common to the two codes. H. Grundmann 
was the first to connect the official rule of the sisters with the constitutions 
of the Friars Preachers of 1256-1259> "thus breaking with the tradition according 
to which the latter came directly from the rule of St. Sixtus. He remarked 
very correctly that there is a discontinuity oetween the rule of St. Sixtus 
and the new rule, whereas this latter shows a striking resemblance to the 
legislation of the brothers . But Mr . Grundmann did not know about the statutes 
of Montargis; otherwise he would have noticed that the passages of the official 
rule of 1259> which are concerned exclusively with sisters, came from the 
statutes of Montargis. The parts vhich are common to the official rule of the 
sisters and that of the brothers are likewise found in the rule of Montargis; 
and this is not astonishing because the rule of the brothers and that of 
Montargis derive from the same source: the constitutions of Raymond of Penafort. 

This point having been ci-^red up, let us examine the divergences between 
the constitutions of Montargis and those of 1259. Ln effect, there is no 
point in pausing at the common points that would bring us, in view of their 
more or less complete identity, to a systematic exposition of the very legis- 
lation of the sisters which would overflow the linits of this study. What is 
important for us is to know what sense the legislation has evolved since 12^5 
and to discern the part of Humbert of Romans in the latter drawing up. 

Among the differences, one must note first of all the five new chapters 
which Humoert introduces in the official constitutions. They are the chapters: 
1) On things in common; 2) On the middle fault; 3) On apostates; h) On build- 
ings; 5) On the granting of houses. These additions may be easily explained. 



Since 12U5 the monasteries had rapidly developed, and new other needs had be- 
come manifest, which a legislation such as that of Montargis, which was made 
for a monastery at its beginnings, could not foresee. Hence, the new pre- 
scriptions on the material organization of the monastery, and on the adminis- 
tration of the temporal, on the construction of buildings with everything 
having to do with this, such as the form of the parlors, of the grilles, etc. 
Hie tension which had come about in the latter years between the sisters and 
the brothers also called for measures of precaution in what had to do with 
the founding of new houses. One will not be surprised that Humbert has intro- 
duced into his rule a special chapter on apostates. His long experience must 
have taught him much on this point. The only surprising innovation is the 
change in the penal code. Why has he introduced the middle fault, distinct 
from the "light fault"? This distinction, proper to the statutes of Premontre', 
had never been admitted by the legislators of the Order. Neither had Montargis 
adopted it in its statutes . This novelty is due probably to the influence of 
the old rule of the sisters; this latter distinguishes, in effect, the middle 
fault from the light fault, a rule distinction which one also finds in the 

rule of St. Sixtus . 

There is also a second differgence. The official rule no longer has 

a separate chapter on the lay sisters. One does not perceive the reason which 
has brought Humbert to eliminate this chapter from the rule of Montargis . 
This legislation was very old because it is found in the first constitutions 
of the brothers. Humbert has preferred to spread the prescriptions through 
different chapters, at least in part, because several have entirely disappeared 
from the new rule. 

Other articles, with respect to the rule of Montargis, have undergone a 
radical transformation. Thus the article "On the manner of entering" has been 
completely worked over; in those which concerned the penal code, the order of 
faults is entirely changed. The differences are such that it is impossible 
to indicate even in a summary way the points of divergence. Other chapters, 
however, present only slight modifications, such as the omission or addition 
of a sentence; but from an historical point of view, they are worth being 
noted. First of all, the new rule no longer prescribes private prayers at 
the hour of rising; Montargis had introduced these in place of the Little 
Office of the Blessed Virgin that the brothers recited in the morning, but 
which the sisters were henceforth to recite in church. These prayers, never- 
theless , are not definitively abolished, because one can still give oneself 
to her private devotions after Matins and Compline. In the chapter "On 
inclinations", the rule of 1259 prescribes a new genuflection: "at the 
beginning of the antiphon of the Blessed Virgin, which is said after Compline". 
One will note that the constitutions of the brothers of 1256 do not yet mention 
it. Let us also note the changes that Humbert brings to the chapters "On 
tonsure and the washing of the head". Instead of four times a year (as found 
in Montargis), the sisters will henceforth be able to have their hair cut 
seven times a year: on the days that the superior will determine. Although he 
is broader on this point, Humbert is, on the contrary, more severe on others: 
instead of fifteen times, the sisters will not be able to wash their heads 
except seven . 

Let us also note certain examples of this change of spirit in the new 
rule. At Montargis, postulants were accepted from the age of seven years on, 
and one could make profession at twelve. In the constitutions of 1259, one 
does not indicate a precise age for the postulants - it is enough that they be 


not excessively young - and for profession one requires thirteen years of 
age. It is 3lso interesting to note that Humbert sets aside the usage vhich 
existed at Montargis of having the sisters blessed by the bishop after their 
profession. This usage must be abolished, he states, because it is harmful 
to good understanding. 

There remains a word to be said about the changes brought about in the 
chapters on faults. In the new rule the enumeration and the description of 
the faults is more precise and more logical. One notes also certain new 
faults in the chapters on light, medium, or grave faults. At first sight, 
one -would thinK that to be fairly numerous, but that is not the case. Several 
of these new faults are already in the statutes of Montargis, but under other 
headings, for example, in the chapter "On clothing". Humbert has placed them 
in the chapters on faults, where they are in their proper place. 

These are, more or less, the important innovations that Humbert of 
Romans introduced in the legislation of 1259- They are not very numerous when 
one compares the common basis of the two legislations, but one will still 
consider them with interest, because they show in what spirit the legislation 
of the Dominican sisters evolved. 


The constitutions of Raymond of Penafort, published by Father H. Denifle, 
do not represent the original text of the official legislation of 12Ul. Father 
Denifle disengaged them from the constitutions of Humbert of Romans by elimina- 
ting all additions subsequent to 1241, but all he obtained in this way was 
the substantial basis of the constitutions of Raymond of Penafort. The weak, 
point of this roetnod was that one does not arrive in this way at fixing the 
first reading of the old ordinanaces which had just been replaced by those 
which were defined in the General Chapters of 1242 to 1256. The acts of 
the Chapter do not suffice, either, to fill in this void, because in them 
one often indicates only the two or three first words of the old legislative 
text. One could have recourse to the constitutions in vigor of Jordan of 
Saxony, to which the texts of St. Raymond showed a great deal of resemblance. 
But this method, although legitimate on the whole, was not applicable to 
details . Thanks to the constitutions of Montargis one will henceforth be 
abli to affirm with certitude that such and such a particular crdination of the 
old rule has been carefully preserved in the rule of Raymond of Penafort from 
which the legislation of the sisters of Montargis derives in direct line. If, 
then, a legislative text of the old rule is found in the statutes of Montargis, 
it is because it was also in the constitutions of St. Raymond. Hence, in the 
chapter of light faults, the constitutions of the brothers of 1256 state: 
"clamatis vel proclamantibus se de supradictis, detur penitentia secundum quod 
prelato videbitur expedire " (To those who are proclaimed, or who proclaim 
themselves, concerning the aforesaid, a penance is given as will seem fit to 
the prelate). This constitution, which dates from 1251, is subsequent to 
the drawing-up of the statutes of Montargis. What did one say in place of it 
in those of St. Raymond'.' The old statutes, antecedent to the year 12Ul, say: 
'clamatis de supradictis et veniam petentibus iniungitur unus psalmus vel duo 
yel cum psalmo disciplina vel amplius secundum quod prelato videbitur expedire" 
(For those proclaimed concerning the aforesaid and seeking forgiveness, there 
is imposed one or two psalms, or with the psalm, the discipline or more, 



according as it will seem fit to the prelate). The statutes of Montargis 
guarantee for us that this reading was kept in the rule of Raymond of Pena- 
fort where one reads at the end of the chapter on light faults : "clamatis de 
supradictis et veniam petentibus iniungitur unus psalmus vel duo vel cum 
psalrno disciplina vel amplius secundum quod illi que preest videbitur expe- 
dire". Hence one has, duly attested, an authentic reading of the constitutions 
of Raymond of Penafort. 

The statutes of Montargis are called to render still other services. We 
know that Raymond of Penafort has not always retained everywhere the text of 
the old constitutions . He has modified it in certain points and, above all, 
he has changed its disposition. Hence, one will not always obtain the primi- 
tive form of the rule of 1241 by substituting the text of the old rule to that 
one which was introduced later into the constitutions of the brothers of 
Humbert of Romans. For example, the constitutions of Humbert states with 
reference to sins of the flesh: "si quis autem, quod deus avertat, in peccatum 
carnis lapsus fuerit, ipsum non solum supradicta pena sed gravius puniendum 
censemus " (if anyone should fall, which God forbid, into a sin of the flesh, 
we consider that he should not only be punished with the aforesaid punishment, 
but more severely). This prescription comes at the end of the third paragraph 
on the graver fault and was introduced in its present form in the General 
Chapter of 1251. 

But here is what one reads in the constitutions of before 1240, after the 
description of the penance due to "graver faults", and which is identical with 
that in the constitutions of Humbert: "eodem modo penitere debet qui rem sibi 
collatam receperit de his que prohibentur recipi; si collatam celaverit quod 
beatus Augustinus furti judicio dicit esse conderanandum; vel si in peccatum 
carnis quis lapsus fuerit quod gravius ceteris puniri censemus" (in the same 
way, one should repent who receives something given to him of those things which 
it is forbidden to receive, and if he hides what he has received, which blessed 
Augustine says is to be condemned as theft; or, if anyone should have fallen 
into a sin of the flesh, which we consider to have to be more gravely punished 
than others). The transition "eodem modo penitere debet" (he should repent in 
the same way) is lacking, as one sees, with Humbert. On the other hand, when 
one examines the context, one sees that the two first faults enumerated in the 
old rule have been taken out of that place in the rule of 1256 and are found in 
the beginning of the chapter "On graver faults". What, then, was the text and 
the order in the constitutions of St. Raymond? Montargis, which is inspired 
from it, orders after the description of the grave fault: "eodem modo penitere 
debet si qua, quod absit, in peccatum carnis lapsa fuerit quod gravius ceteris 
puniri censemus et plus quam omni abominamur " (in the same way, one should do 
penance if she, which may it not happen, should have fallen into a sin of the 
flesh which we consider to merit a punishment more gravely than other sins 
and which we abominate more than all sins). As the statutes of Montargis 
derive from the constitutions of St. Raymond, their text represents approximate- 
ly the authentic form of the rule of 1240. Hence one is practically certain 
that one read in the constitution of St. Raymond: "Non vocetur ad aliquod 
officium in ecclesia. . .Eodem modo penitere debet etc. "(Let him not be called for 
any office in the church... in the same way, one should do penance, etc.). 

To appreciate at its full value the strength of this argument, one must 
necessarily study it in the context of the legislation on grave faults in the 
three books of the constitutions. One will see by comparing the texts that 


the statutes of Montargis reflect the original form of the constitutions of 
St. Raymond. Assuredly, one must apply this method of rcconstitution with 
prudence and circumspection. The statutes of Montargis are an adaptation, 
not a pure and simple copy of the constitutions of Raymond of Penafort. But 
the danger of going astray is not as great as on. j might think. With few 
exceptions, the rule of Montargis faithfully follows the text of the legisla- 
tion of 12Ul; one can then use it without fear to reconstitute in particular 
cases the original text of the constitutions of Raymond of Penafort. 

Translated by Pierre Conway, O.P. 



SCHEMA of Development of the Constitutions of the Nuns 

The Schema. Ke^eAXed to on p. %1 uau levtbed, and explanatory comment* vocne 
added, by UothDi MaAxe RoiaAla o& Summit [novo oh Cainta, Philippine*} , who &i?a>t 
brought tiiii> paper to oua attention. The revised Schema fallow*: 

Rule of Prouille 

absorbed into 

Rule of St. Sixtus 

completed by 
Corpus of Statutes or Constitutions 
(type : statutes of Penitents) 

continued as official 
Rule in monasteries 
of Germany until 

Montargis (12U5) $. 
model of 
official Const. 
(1259); Completed 
by Admonitions 

Rule of St. Dominic 

Rule of Const, of Friars 
Preachers (1228 - I236) 



Const, of Raymond of 
Penafort (l2Ul) 

Const, of Humbert of Romans 


Const, revised with com- 
mentary; Fr. Potton,OP (1864) 
for France 

Fr. Jandel, OP (l868) 
(essentially Fr . Potton's) 



Fr. Gillet, O.P. (1930) 

Experimental Constitutions 
with ordinations 
Fr. Fernandez (1971) 

1. The constitutions of Montargis and Humbert of the Romans differ 
considerably from the rule of San Sisto -which absorbed the rule 
of Prouille drawn up by St. Dominic. It would seem that Raymond 
of Penafort, a canonist, was responsible for the changes. It has 
a more legalistic tone than the constitutions of San Sisto 

2. The Gillet constitutions of 1930 represent another major change 
when these constitutions were revised according to the Code of 
Canon Law. 

3. The experimental constitutions issued by Father Aniceto 
Fernandez more faithfully reflect the spirit of St. Dominic 

It is less legalistic than the Humbert or the Gillet constitutions 

3n a aenBB 
iilary ub filntljer 
became tl)E ftrjat "ritjartplE" nf Ijet 5nn, 
ilje ftrjat in uiljnm 1}E jammed tn flag: 

"Jnllnui nu>", 
euen befnrE \\v addrEjBJBEtl tljxje call 
tn i\\2 Apojatl^ja 
nr tn amjnne eIjbe. 

REfl£fflPE<DK3S fflAaO,#2fl 



THE SWEET CALL OF THE TURTLEDOVE (II soave richiamo della tortora) by 
Sister M. Giuseppina, OP, (Naples: Editrice Domenicana Italiana, 1987), 
215 pages, h 15,000. 

The author is a nun at Holy Rosary Monastery in Marino, Italy. She was a 
contributor to Contemplative Domenicane which was reviewed in the Feb. 1987 
Conference Communications . Sister is on the editorial board for a bi-monthly 
newsletter for all the Italian Dominican Sisters (active and contemplative) 
and writes a "regular column" therein. 

This book is a collection of 35 reflections on various aspects of our 
vocation. They were originally published separately in periodicals so there 
is some repetition. Sister, however, chose to leave them as originally written 
because the constant repetition of basic ideas is so much a part of the contem- 
plative experience. 

She candidly admits that Dominicans seem to be the least known of all 
cloistered nuns. Hence, the primary motive for the book is to present our 
cloistered contemplative life in the midst of the Church and the entire 
Dominican Family. She writes beautifully of the profound spiritual signifi- 
cance of silence, enclosure, prayer, etc. One chapter, entitled "In the Noon 
Time of Life", is a reflection upon her solemn profession. Another chapter 
off°rs spiritual insights for living enclosure in the midst of a hospital 
ward. Mary is often presented as a model for the contemplative life. Sister's 
deep love for the Dominican Family permeates every page. 

The book is excellent for spiritual reading, meditation and reflection. 
The chapters could also be used as stimulating vocational material for those 
seeking a deeper understanding of our life. 

I have two very minor suggestions or critisisms. First, given the 
author's background in the classics and philosophy I was surprised that she 
did not offer any insights on study. Our Constitutions place a special 
emphasis upon this basic element of the Dominican charism. Perhaps she is 
saving this topic for her next bookl Second, the sentence structure is 
difficult to follow at times, causing difficulties for the translator. 

This most welcome contribution to current literature on the Dominican 
cloistered life was published through the fraternal support of the Provinces 
of St. Mark and Sardinia, and Naples. It contains several color plates of 
frescoes at San Marco by Blessed Angelico and Ghirlandaio which add a visual 
warmth to our Sister's lovely work. May others be encouraged to join her in 
sharing the fruits of Dominican contemplation through writing. "These are 
pages that every nun could write because I believe each one does write them 
by her own life" (p. 10). 

Sr. Mary Jeremiah, OP 
Lufkin, Texas 




1230 Lafayette Ave. 
Hunts Point, Bronx, N.Y. 10474 
Tel. (212) 328-6996 

335 Doat St. 
Buffalo, N.Y. 14211 

(716) 892-0066 

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Elmira, N.Y. 14905 

(607) 734-9506 

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(313) 626-8321 

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Lancaster, PA 1 7601 

(717) 569-2104 

1977 Carmen Ave. 
Los Angeles, CA 90068 
(213) 466-2186 

1501 Lotus Lane 
Lufkin, TX 75901 

(409) 634-4233 

215 Oak Grove Ave. 
Menlo Park, CA 94025 

375 13th Ave. 
Newark, N.J. 07103 

(201) 624-2769 


11 Race Hill Rd. 

North Guilford, CT 06437 

(203) 457-0599 

543 Springfield Ave. 
Summit, N.J. 07901 

(201) 273-1228 

802 Court St. 
Syracuse, N.Y. 13208 

(315) 471-6762 

14th and West Sts. 
Union City, N.J. 07087 

(201) 866-7004 

4901 16th St. , N.W. 
Washington, D.C. 20011 

(202) 882-4720 

1430 Riverdale St. 
West Springfield, MA OIO89 
(413) 736-3639 


No. 2 St. Ann's Rd. 
Port of Spain, Trinidad, W.I. 
Tel. 62-47648 

Rosaryhill, Bulao, Cainta 
Rizal , Phi 1 ippines 


Sister Mary of God (North Guilford) President 
Sister Mary Joseph (Farmington) Vice-President Sister Mary Thomas (Buffalo) Secretary 
Mother Mary Joseph (Newark) Treasurer Sister Mary Catherine (Elmira) Councillor 

Editorial Coordinator