|Under Mary's Mantle|
Dominicans everywhere share the tradition of singing the Salve Regina and receiving a blessing with holy water at the words before they go to bed. Mother Francis Raphael Drane wrote that, “Dominic never had cell or bed of his own and slept, when he slept at all, in the church or the dormitory. One night, Dominic having remained in the church to pray, left it at the hour of midnight, and entered the corridor where the cells of the brethren were. When he had finished what he had come to do, he again began to pray at one end of the dormitory, and looking by chance towards the other end, he saw three ladies coming along, of whom the one in the middle appeared the most beautiful and venerable. One of her companions carried a magnificent vessel of water, and the other a sprinkler, which she presented to her mistress, and she sprinkled the brethren, and made over them the sign of the cross. But when she had come to one of the friars, she passed him over without blessing him; and Dominic having observed who this one was, went before the lady, who was in the middle of the dormitory, near to where the lamp was hanging. He fell at her feet, and though he had already recognized her, yet he besought her to tell him who she was. At that time the beautiful and devout anthem of the Salve Regina was not sung in the convents of the friars or of the sisters at Rome; it was only recited kneeling after Compline. The lady who had given the blessing said therefore to Dominic, ‘I am she whom you invoke every evening, and when you say, ‘Eia ergo advocota nostra,’ I prostrate before my Son for the preservation of this order. Then the blessed Dominic inquired who were the two young maidens who accompanied her, and she replied, ‘One is Cecilia, and the other Catherine.’ And the blessed Dominic asked again why she had passed over one of the brethren without blessing him; and he was answered, ‘Because he was not in a fitting posture;’ and so having finished her round and sprinkled the rest of the brethren, she disappeared.”
Saint Dominic had a mystical vision of his deceased brothers and sisters under the protection of the Queen of Heaven. Mother Francis Raphael Drane relates the story this way, “Now the blessed Dominic returned to pray in the place where he was before, and scarcely had he begun to pray when he was wrapt in spirit unto God. And he saw the Lord, with the Blessed Virgin standing on His right hand, and it seemed to him that our Lady was dressed in a robe of sapphire blue. And, looking about him, he saw religious of every order standing before God; but of his own he did not see one. Then he began to weep bitterly, and he dared not draw nigh to our Lord, or to His Mother; but our Lady beckoned him with her hand to approach. Nevertheless, he did not dare to come until our Lord also in His turn had made him a sign to do so. He came, therefore, and fell prostrate before them, weeping bitterly. And the Lord commanded him to rise, and when he was risen, He said to him. ‘Why weepest thou thus bitterly?’ And he answered, ‘I weep because I see here religious of all orders except mine own.’ And the Lord said to him, ‘Wouldst thou see thine own?’ And he trembling replied, ‘Yes, Lord.’ Then the Lord placed His hand on the shoulder of the Blessed Virgin, and said to the blessed Dominic, ‘I have given thine order to my Mother.’ Then He said again, ‘And wouldst thou really see thine order?’ And he replied, ‘Yea, Lord.’ Then the Blessed Virgin opened the mantle in which she seemed to be dressed, and extending it before the eyes of Dominic so that its immensity covered all the space of the heavenly country, he saw under its folds a vast multitude of his friars. The blessed Dominic fell down to thank God and the Blessed Mary, His Mother, and the vision disappeared, and he came to himself again, and rang the bell for matins; and when matins were ended, he called them all together, and made them a beautiful discourse on the love and veneration they should bear to the most Blessed Virgin, and related to them this vision.” Mother Frances adds the curious injunction that Saint Dominic ordered from then on that the Friars always wear their belts and stockings to bed. While the tradition of singing the Salve continues in our Constitutions, this one is not mentioned.
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, (pp. 136-138).