Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Flesh of Christ

Saint Dominic's Book Cast into the Fire
Although he was undoubtedly a great teacher and preacher we have no record of Saint Dominic’s writings.  According to legend he was so once so moved by compassion that he sold all of his books and gave the money to the poor.  One book is especially missed by Dominican theologians.  This is the book mentioned in the legend of Saint Dominic’s confrontation with the Albigensian heretics.  The book containing his preaching on the Flesh of Christ was flung into the fire three times, and three times it sprang back out uninjured.  Mother Francis Raphael Drane quotes from a letter of Father Alessandro Santo Canale of the Society of Jesus that was published in a collection of letters on the Immaculate Conception at Palermo in the year 1742.  Father Canale wrote, “All the regular orders, following the inclination of the Holy Church their mother, have always shown a courageous zeal in defense of the Immaculate Conception.  And I say all; because one of the most earnest in favor of the Immaculate Conception has been the most learned and most holy Dominican order, even from its very first beginning. I mean even from the time of the great patriarch Saint Dominic in the dispute which he held with the Albigensians at Toulouse, with so much glory to the Church and to himself. Almost from the time of Saint Dominic down to the present day there has been preserved in the public archives of Barcelona a very ancient tablet, whereon is inscribed the famous dispute of the saint with the Albigensians, and the triumph of the truth, confirmed by the miracle of the fire, into which, at the request of the heretics the saint having thrown his book, when that of the Albigensians was destroyed his remained uninjured.”

In their argument the Albigensians claimed that the Blessed Virgin was conceived in original sin and Saint Dominic refuted this claim by writing a book on the Flesh of Christ.  Saint Dominic based his argument on the belief that the Virgin Mary was she of whom the Holy Ghost says by Solomon, “Thou art all fair my beloved and there is no stain in thee.”  Mother Francis Raphael Drane wrote that Father Canale claimed that Saint Dominic’s quoted the following phrase from the Acts of St. Andrew as support for the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, “Even as the first Adam was made of virgin earth, which had never been cursed, so also was it fitting for the second Adam to be made in like manner.” 

Drane, Augusta Theodosia (Mother Francis Raphael), The Life of St. Dominic and a Sketch of the Dominican Order with an Introduction to the America edition by Rev Joseph Sadoc Alemany, D.D., P. O’Shea Publisher, New York, New York, 1867, (p. 219-220).