Sunday, February 12, 2012

Dignare Me Laudare

Nine Ways of Prayer of Saint Dominic
Mother Francis Raphael Drane recorded that Saint Dominic never spoke in public without first prostrating in prayer before a little image of Our Lady and repeating the versicle, “Dignare me laudare te Virgo sacrata...”  This is the origin of the custom among Dominicans even today of introducing their preaching with an Ave Maria.   In many convents, where the Salve Regina is sung, whether in procession or in choir sides, this versicle rendered in English immediately follows, “Permit me to sing your praises, Holy Virgin.  Strengthen me against your enemies.” 

Prostration before an image of the Blessed Virgin or the Crucifix is one of the “nine ways of prayer” of Saint Dominic.  The other ways are bowing, kneeling, genuflecting, standing with hands open, standing with hands outstretched in the form of a cross, standing with arms stretched forward with hands together pointing toward heaven, sitting with a book and walking.  The nine ways of prayer were first recorded by an anonymous author sometime between 1260 and 1288.  The most likely source of this information was Saint Cecilia at the Monastery of St. Agnes who was received into the habit and directed in prayer by Saint Dominic.

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. 148).