Emily M. DeArdo


Dominican saints

Happy St. Dominic's Day!

Dominicans, dominican saints series, CatholicismEmily DeArdoComment

Happy Feast of St. Dominic! Today is a big day for me since I'm a Lay Dominican, and I intend to make it a good Feast Day!

If you're asking, St. Dominic who? Go here

For more on some of my favorite Dominican saints, go here

And today would be a great day to pray the rosary, since St. Dominic was the one who got it from Mary, and all that. :) From my St. Dominic piece: 

Besides the Dominican order, St. Dominic gave the church another treasure: the rosary. The rosary was given to St. Dominic at Prouilhe in 1214. Bl. Alain de la Rouche, a Dominican priest, spread devotion of the rosary in the 15th century. The habit of Dominican friars, nuns, and sisters includes a rosary worn on the left side of the body, where knights use to wear their swords, since St. Dominic said that the power of the rosary was more powerful than any other weapon. Pope Pius XI said that, "The Rosary of Mary is the principle and foundation on which the very Order of Saint Dominic rests for making perfect the life of its members and obtaining the salvation of others." 



Daybook No. 112

behind the scenes, books, Catholicism, current events, current projects, Daybook, Dominicans, fiction, knitting, links, Tidying Up, writingEmily DeArdoComment

Outside my window::

Cloudy, a marked contrast from yesterday's blue skies and sun, but since It's going to be in the 60s, I'll take it. Especially since....gulp.....snow might in the future! 


My PJs--I just got up (it's 8 AM as I'm writing this) 


North and South, Mockingjay, Rising Strong,  and The Betrothed. I really like North and South--Margaret Hale is a great character. I'm late to the Rising Strong party, but better late than never, and I also have Daring Greatly to read.

In the CD player::

Fun Home and Hamilton. No Christmas music until at least after Thanksgiving!

Living the Liturgy::

Today is Lucy Pevensie's feast day! And since she's my Dominican patron, I get to party all day. 


Around the House::

Doing the deep cleaning to get ready for decorating> I don't have much to do--the tree, a few baubles, and my Fontanini creche (one of the best Christmas gifts I have ever received, ever). The Baby Jesus doesn't go in the creche until Christmas Eve, and the Magi make their way into the set proper by Epiphany. If you're looking for a Nativity set, I highly recommend this one. The figures are made of a type of plastic that means kids can chew on them, play with them, etc., and they won't break!

Speaking of Catholic households, this is a good article from Our Sunday Visitor that's worth a ponder. 

I'm also in the last stages of Tidying Up. I took three bags of books to Half Price books yesterday, so I'm still looking for the book/CD/DVD "click point" that Kondo talks about. I'm sure I'll find it--eventually. :) Until then, I just keep taking books to HPB. 


I have "won" NaNo--but the book's not done. Oh no. I'm going to write a sequel. (I can't believe it either!) Nothing about this book has gone the way I thought it would, but it's been in a great way. My friend Andrea says the "muse has inhabited me", and while that may or may not be true, it sure is fun. I will officially "win" NaNo on the 20th, when you can start verifying word counts. 

So I have to put an ending on this guy (a cliff-hanger, of course), and then start the new document for book two, maybe do some outlining--and then touch nothing until January. This is what usually happens with my NaNo books--I finish them in November and then don't touch them until January. That gives them, and me, a nice break before I begin revising/editing. 

And I can purl! You'll see the proof tomorrow in the Yarn Along. 



In light of the attacks on Paris, this is an excellent read. It's long, but it's well-worth the time it takes. 

There are so many problems in our world that are new, and all colliding at once--fighting a war against an enemy we can't see (as Judi Dench said in Skyfall), the Syrian refugees, elections, earthquakes in Mexico and Japan....

The only solution I can see to it is to pray more intensely. 


Plans for the week::

Not much, which is nice. CCD on Sunday, when we'll talk about Jesus' birthday (we talked about Advent last week). And then it's Thanksgiving week, and then we're into December! Holy cow!


This Week's Question: How do you celebrate Thanksgiving in your family? 






Bl. Margaret of Castello: Patron of the Unwanted

Catholicism, dominican saints series, women saints seriesEmily DeArdo2 Comments

In the back corner of my parish sanctuary, there's a small shrine to Bl. Margaret of Castello. When I first joined St. Patrick's, I had no idea who this woman was. Blessed Margaret of where? But the more I learned about her, the more I realized that she needs to be much better known. She's a great blessed for our times. 

Bl. Margaret was born to noble parents, who were horrified when they found out that the son they had so wanted was, in fact, a girl--and a blind, hunchbacked dwarf of a girl, no less. She was hidden away from the world because her parents were terrified someone would see her. Food was passed in through a window, and she could hear Mass and receive communion through another window. (Like many wealthy families, her family had its own chapel.) The local priest undertook her catechesis. But Margaret, for the first sixteen years of her life, saw very few people. 

When she was sixteen, her parents heard of a shrine where miraculous cures were being reported. Her parents took her there, praying for a cure. When Margaret was not healed, her parents abandoned her. 

Think about that. They left a blind, totally innocent sixteen year old girl, alone. And didn't come back for her. They didn't have a change of heart halfway down the road. 

Eventually, she found shelter with some Dominican nuns. She became a member of the third order and took care of those in prison and the dying. 

She died on April 13, 1320, at the age of 33. More than 200 miracles have been attributed to her intercession after her death.  Her body is incorrupt. 

Her feast day is April 13 (yes, a lot of Dominicans in April!). She was beatified in 1609 by Pope Paul V, and her cause for canonization is pending. 

She was a blind, hunchbacked dwarf--and yet she worked miracles. She did incredible things in her life, but her parents--and many others--thought she was useless because of her disabilities. No one is useless to God. 

For more on her canonization process, and this incredible woman, you can visit the Blessed Margaret's Guild site. (The  Guild is based at my home parish. Every Wednesday we have veneration of a relic of her heart, and special prayers, after the daily Masses.) 

St. Hyacinth of Poland: The Apostle of the North

Catholicism, dominican saints seriesEmily DeArdoComment

St. Hyacinth is a pretty cool saint, and I'd never heard of him until I started my formation with the Dominicans. He's called the "apostle of the north" because of his work spreading the Dominican order to the northern parts of Europe. 

He also carries around statues. But more on that in a second.

St. Hyacinth was a contemporary of St. Dominic's, being born around 1185 to a noble Polish family. He studied in Krakow and Bologna and received his Doctor of Law and Divinity. When in Rome with his uncle, the Bishop of Krakow, he witnessed a miracle performed by St. Dominic. He immediately entered the Dominican order with two companions and received the habit from St. Dominic himself in 1220. After an abbreviated novitiate, he and his companions were sent back to Poland to establish the order there. 

St. Hyacinth established new monasteries as he and his companions traveled north. He alone continued to Krakow and went through northern Europe spreading the faith. Tradition holds that he went as far as Scotland, Greece, Turkey, Russian, Sweden, Lithuania, Norway, and Denmark. 

It was in Kiev that his most famous miracle occurred. The Mongols were attacking the city, and the friars were preparing to flee the invading forces. Hyacinth went to the chapel to take the ciborium (the container that holds Consecrated Hosts--which means they have become the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ) with him. As he opened the tabernacle, he heard the voice of Mary asking him to take her, as well. A large stone statue of Mary was in the chapel. Taking both the statue and the ciborium, Hyacinth kept them safely with the friars and safe from desecration by the Mongols. 

St. Hyacinth died in 1257, and was canonized by Pope Clement VIII on April 17, 1594

His feast day is August 17 (what a coincidence!), and he is the patron of Lithuania and those in danger of drowning. He is also, in some places, the "patron" of pirogies. He is also called the "Polish St. Dominic" for his evangelistic zeal. He was the seventh Dominican to be canonized, and he is pictured among the saints in the Bernini Colonnade outside St. Peter's Basilica.  

St. Agnes and Blessed Lucy: Saturday Dominican Special

Catholicism, dominican saints seriesEmily DeArdo1 Comment

I wrote about Bl. Lucy of Narni before, during my saint series. So if you missed that, go back and read it, because Blessed Lucy is awesome, and she's my Dominican patron. 

Today I'd like to introduce you to another Dominican saint: St. Agnes of Montepulciano. She was a Dominican prioress in medieval Tuscany who was known as a miracle worker during her lifetime--not too shabby, huh? So let's meet her. 

Agnes was born in in 1268 to a noble family. Her devotion to God was evident from a very young age, beginning at age four, when she would go to her room to pray to Jesus alone. At age nine, she entered a Franciscan convent, and by age fourteen, she was appointed bursar (the bursar provides for the material needs of the monastery and keeps the monastery's account books.). She was noted for her deep devotion to the Blessed Sacrament  and deep life of prayer, and, at age 20, was elected Abbess of her community.

People suffering from physical and mental illnesses seemed to be cured in her presence, and was reported to have multiplied  loaves, like in the gospel stories of the loaves and the fishes. Sometimes flowers sprang up around her as she prayed. She was frequently called upon to make peace between warring families in Italy. An apparition of the baby Jesus, held in the arms of his mother, appeared to her one year on the Feast of the Assumption. 

It was another vision that led her to the Dominicans. St. Dominic appeared to her one day during prayer. Due to the inspiration she received during this vision, she led her monastery to enter the Dominican order. 

Other members of the order venerated St. Agnes for her holiness. St. Catherine of Siena called her "Our mother, the Glorious Agnes", and made a pilgrimage to her Agnes' hometown where her niece, Eugenie, was a nun. 

Agnes died at the age of 49, on April 20. Her body is incorrupt. She was canonized by Pope Benedict XIII in 1726.  

Her feast day is April 20. 

St. Rose of Lima: Saint of Peru

Catholicism, dominican saints seriesEmily DeArdo1 Comment

St. Rose is an excellent saint for our times. 

Recently, I was reading a magazine article that talked about scar removal and the various ways to do it. I laughed a bit and then sighed, because I've got a third-degree burn on my right arm. Well, I did. But it's one huge scar, and no amount of dermatological intervention is going to make it go away. I live with it, and I don't mind it--but I know to some people, it would be a huge problem. 

I'm not saying we shouldn't try to be beautiful. I wear make-up, y'all. I'm saying that St. Rose teaches us that physical perfection isn't all we should be focusing on--in fact, she saw it as a hindrance to what her real calling was. 

St. Rose was born on April 20, 1586, the seventh of eleven children born to Gaspar and Maria Flores. Her parents had little money, but some social prestige. Her baptismal name was Isabel, but she was nicknamed Rose after an incident in her childhood--a servant claimed to have seen her face transform into a rose. When she was confirmed in 1597, she formally took Rose as her name. 

As a young girl, she read about St. Catherine of Siena, and began to emulate her, especially with intense fasting. She was a beautiful girl, and was often praised and admired for her beauty. In what may be a bit of extreme measures, she cut off her hair and smeared peppers on her face.(The hair, OK. The peppers? I'm not going to try that anytime soon.) This, you can imagine, did not please her parents, who wanted her married. Her mother, especially, loved and praised her daughter's beauty. 

Rose spent many hours before the Blessed Sacrament, and received communion frequently. She undertook severe, secret penances, and abstained entirely from meat. Finally, in frustration, her father gave her a private room in the family house for her use, and her parents gave up trying to marry her off. 

She helped the sick and hungry of Lima, bringing them to her room and caring for them, and selling her exquisite needlework and embroidery to help support the poor and her family. She was especially devoted to the indigenous Peruvians, and prayed intensely for their conversion. 

During this time, Dutch pirates invaded Lima's harbor and defeated the Peruvian fleet. They intended not only to loot the city, but to desecrate Lima's churches. The women, children, and religious of Lima took refuge in the churches, and in the church of Santo Domingo, Rose stirred all of them to prayer. The pirates burst into the church, but saw St. Rose ablaze in light, holding the monstrance which contained the Blessed Sacrament. They fled and returned to their ships, leaving the churches in tact. 

Rose had wanted to become a Dominican nun, but her father forbade it, so she became a member of the third order instead. She took a vow of perpetual virginity when she was twenty, and only allowed herself to sleep two hours a night, so she'd have more time for prayer.

The Spanish oppression of the indigenous Peruvians greatly distressed her, and she was diagnosed with arthritis and asthma. Her only human support was St. Martin des Porres, himself a Dominican, who offered her spiritual counsel. 

She died at the age of 31, after being joined to Christ in a mystical marriage, like her great role model, St. Catherine of Siena. She was canonized on April 12, 1671, by Pope Clement X, and was the first Catholic in the Americas to be declared a saint. 

Her feast day is August 22, and she is the patron of embroiderers, gardeners, florists, India, Latin America, the resolution of family quarrels, Peru, the Philippines, against vanity, and the city of Lima. She's often seen wearing or holding wreaths of roses--her mother liked to place these on her daughter's head to accentuate her beauty, but Rose saw them as her own "crown of thorns" 

St. Thomas Aquinas: The Angelic Doctor

dominican saints series, Catholicism, DominicansEmily DeArdoComment

If you've read the writing of Aquinas, angelic may not be the first thing that comes to mind. Frustrating? Yes. Deep? Yes. Angelic? Um....maybe not. But we'll get to why he's called that. 

As you also may have guessed, St. Thomas joins St. Catherine of Siena as one of the Dominicans who have been named Doctors of the Church. You shouldn't be surprised by that. Anyone who wrote as much as Thomas wrote and inspires an entire study of theology (called "Thomism", or "Thomists", for those who subscribe to his views) should definitely be ranked s one of the Church's greatest teachers. 

But in his time, St. Thomas was kind of an odd duck. Called "the dumb ox" by his brethren, because he barely spoke, Thomas was born on January 28, 1255, in Italy. Hi parents, Lundolf and Theodora, wanted Thomas to follow his uncle into the abbacy of a local Benedictine monastery. But Thomas had other ideas. 

At the age of 19, he resolved to join the newish Dominican order. His parents, displeased with this idea, tried to dissuade him, finally locking him up in his room for a year in order to prevent him being given the habit. He used this year to tutor his sisters and communicate with members of the order. Finally, his brothers smuggled a prostitute into his room, hoping she would tempt him; Thomas drove her out of the room with a flaming poker (something I always thought was a bit hard on the poor woman). That night, two angels appeared to him as he slept and gave him the grace to always remain celibate. 

Finally, in 1244, his mother relented and arranged for Thomas to "escape" his room via the window one night. Thomas escaped, and finally joined the order. The order sent him to the University of Paris, where he was a student of another great Dominican, St. Albert the Great. While there, he picked up the "dumb ox" nickname from his fellow students. Since he didn't talk much, his fellows thought he was stupid. Upon hearing this, St. Albert said,

"You call him the dumb ox, but in his teaching he will one day produce such a bellowing that it will be heard throughout the world." 


Thomas taught in Cologne as an apprentice professor, teaching students about the books of the Old Testament, and writing commentaries on the books of  Isaiah, Lamentations, and Jeremiah. He received his master's degree from the University of Paris and continued to write various theological works, including Summa Contra Gentiles, one of his most famous works. 

In February 1265, Thomas was summoned to Rome to serve as the papal theologian (a post first held by St. Dominic, and held by Dominicans ever since) for the newly-elected pope, Clement IV. Thomas also taught the students natural and theological science at Santa Sabina. He traveled between Paris and Rome many times over the years, filling various posts and teaching. 

In 1272, Thomas retired from teaching at the University of Paris and returned to Naples, where he lived the rest of his life. Here, he worked more on his greatest work, the Summa Theologica, and gave lectures. One night during prayer, he had a vision of Christ. "You have written well of me, Thomas," Christ said. "What reward would you have for your labor?" Thomas answered, "nothing but you, Lord." After this, Thomas had a vision of some sort, but he never told anyone what it was--only that after the vision, everything he had written suddenly seemed "like straw" to him, and he abandoned the Summa, never finishing it. He died on March 7, 1274, while giving commentary on the Song of Songs. Thomas was canonized 50 years after his death by Pope John XXII. 

The Summa, while unfinished, is one of the greatest theological works of all time, and one of the classics of western literature. It was intended as a guide for theology students (that's right, beginners!), and was a compendium of all the teachings of the Catholic Church. It includes topics such as the existence of God, creation, man, man's purpose, Christ, and the sacraments. It's broken into three major parts: 

  1. The first part: Prima Pars: God's existence and nature; the creation of the world; angels; the nature of man
  2. The second part: Secunda Pars: broken into two subparts:
    1. Prima Secunda: general principles of morality and a theory of law
    2. Secunda Secundae: morality in particular, especially virtues and vices
  3. The third part: Tertia Pars: the work and person of Christ; the sacraments; the end of the world (unfinished)

His feast day is January 28, and he is the patron of academics, apologists, protection against storms, book sellers, Catholic schools, chastity, learning, pencil makers, philosophers, publishers, students, and theologians. He's called the angelic doctor because of his angelic purity, his writings on the angels, his angelic wisdom, and angelic piety. 

St. Dominic: Preacher of Grace

Dominicans, Catholicism, dominican saints seriesEmily DeArdoComment

As Maria says in The Sound of Music, "Let's start at the very beginning." If we're going to talk about Dominican saints--and we are, oh boy!--we need to start with the founder of the order, and that's St. Dominic. 

St. Dominic was born in Caleruega, Spain, in 1170, to Bl. Jane of Aza and Felix Guzman. Before his birth, his mother had a dream of a dog emerging with a torch in his mouth, which seemed to set the earth of fire. The dog in the dream is seen as a play on words: "dog" in Latin is "canis" and Lord is "Domini"--thus, "dominican"="hound of the Lord."  At his baptism, his godmother saw a star on his forehead, hence the reason the saint is often depicted with a star about his head in sacred art, and why he is the patron of astronomers. 

St. Dominic receiving the rosary from Our Lady. Notice the dog with a torch in its mouth at his feet. 

St. Dominic receiving the rosary from Our Lady. Notice the dog with a torch in its mouth at his feet. 

St. Dominic received his schooling in Palencia, where he spent six years studying the liberal arts, and four years studying theology. In 1191, when a famine was raging throughout the country, St. Dominic sold his precious textbooks, clothes, and furniture to help feed the hungry. "Would you have me study off these dead skins, when men are dying of hunger?" he asked his astonished friends. 

In 1194, around the age of twenty-five, he joined the canons regular of in the Diocese of Osma. Canons regular were men who followed the Rule of St. Augustine and lived in community. Unlike monks, the canons were engaged in public works and ministry around the diocese. 

Ten years later, when Dominic was around thirty-five, he joined the Bishop of Osma on a diplomatic mission for the King of Castile. The mission itself failed, but it brought St. Dominic to the event that would lead to the foundation of his new order. 

In the South of France, Dominic and the bishop entered the Albi region of the country, where a heretical sect, the Albigensians, had taken root. (Albigensians were also called Catharists, in some places). Briefly, the Cathars believes that there was both a "good" and a "bad" God. All visible matter, including the human body, was created by the "bad" God, and thus was full of sin. Thus, even the body of Christ, the Incarnation of Jesus, was sinful in their beliefs. The "Good" God was the New Testament God, and the 'bad" God was the God of the Old Testament. Of course, this is directly opposed to the idea of one God that the Catholic Church teaches. 

St. Dominic, upon meeting an innkeeper who held these beliefs, stayed up all night discussing the errors and the True Faith with him. At dawn, the innkeeper realized his error and returned to the church. St. Dominic's zeal for the salvation of souls. But as St. Dominic traveled throughout Southern France alone (the bishop having returned to Osma), he saw the devastating effects of the heresy, and knew that he had to combat it. But how? 

The first people to join the order were women, who wanted to return to a strong practice of their faith. St. Dominic established a monastery for these woman at the church of St. Mary of  Prouilhe. These women became the first nuns of the order. 

On the night of July 22, 1206, St. Dominic saw a a globe of fire descend from the sky and and rested above the church. He saw this sign (called "Seignadou--"Sign of God") as a confirmation of his work. He would form an order of itinerant preachers who would go all over the world, combating heresy and bringing the truth of the gospel to the people. His friars would live in community, but not in monasteries, and they would devote much time to study, because in order to preach the truth, one must first know the truth. They would preach in the language of the people, so that everyone, from prince to peasant, could understand them 

It took several years, but in 1214 St. Dominic established the first religious community of his new order in Toulouse. It would be governed by the Rule of St. Augustine, the same rule he'd followed as a Canon Regular, and which gave a lot of flexibility to its members. The Order was founded for two purposes: Preaching and the Salvation of Souls. This is why members of the order have O.P. after their names--it stands for Ordo Praedicatorum, "Order of Preachers." 

The Dominican seal, with the motto "To praise, to bless, to preach" around the shield. 

The Dominican seal, with the motto "To praise, to bless, to preach" around the shield. 

The order was formally approved by Pope Honorius III on on December 22, 1216. 

St. Dominic founded convents and friaries (the priests are called friars) throughout Europe, mostly in University towns, such as Paris and Bologna. The pope invited St. Dominic and his friars to take up residence at the Church of Santa Sabina in Rome, which is still the headquarters of the order and the home of the Master General today. 

St. Dominic abstained from meat, and undertook long periods of fasting and silence. He "never allowed himself the luxury of a bed", and often stayed up all night, or late into the night, praying for sinners. He died at the age of 51, on August 6, 1221. His feast day is August 8 and he is the patron of astronomers, astronomy, and the Dominican Republic. 

Besides the Dominican order, St. Dominic gave the church another treasure: the rosary. The rosary was given to St. Dominic at Prouilhe in 1214. Bl. Alain de la Rouche, a Dominican priest, spread devotion of the rosary in the 15th century. The habit of Dominican friars, nuns, and sisters includes a rosary worn on the left side of the body, where knights use to wear their swords, since St. Dominic said that the power of the rosary was more powerful than any other weapon. Pope Pius XI said that, "The Rosary of Mary is the principle and foundation on which the very Order of Saint Dominic rests for making perfect the life of its members and obtaining the salvation of others." 

he habit of the Dominicans is representative of white for purity, and black for penance. There are three "orders" in the Dominican order: the friars are the first order; the nuns, who live in monasteries, are the second, and the sisters and laity are the third.