This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

February 13 -- Feast of Blessed Jordan of Saxony

I just noticed that the beati (Blessed, not Saint) have memorials, not feasts. The egalitarian in me demands that I continue to call the dies beatorum feasts, no matter what the official line is. I am especially convinced of this when I read about Jordan of Saxony, locally hailed as a saint soon after his death, but not beatified for six centuries and never canonized, probably because of bias against the Dominican order. I think I can relate to the prejudice; they were a formidable force in the Church and might well have hijacked the whole thing if the other Orders hadn't eventually stepped up their games.

Jordan was the second master general of the Dominicans, following St. Dominic himself. Jordan had written brilliant treatises on mathematics on which Leonardo da Vinci drew a couple centuries later. Once he was in charge of the Order, he began a tireless, nonstop tour of Christendom, recruiting the best minds of Europe to the Dominicans. One of his better nicknames was the "Siren of the Schools" because he enlisted the best students from all the universities (Paris, Milan, Bologna, Zurich) and to place Dominican scholars at the new schools (Oxford, Toulouse) as they opened.

One of his less flattering nicknames was One-eye, which rivals and critics called him due to an accident that occurred somewhere during his ceaseless travels. He also contracted malaria at one point and was burdened with recurrence for the rest of his life.

The bishops at the time resented the Dominicans coming into their dioceses to preach. Prior to Pope Gregory X, bishops had the power to block itinerant preachers, though the Bishop of Chartes was instructed in a papal bull to allow the Order to allow a church, priory, and school there. Gregory, a friend of the late Dominic, allowed Jordan to send his brothers anywhere, irrespective of the objections of local bishops.

I might have overlooked this saint (so I consider him) in spite of all this except for his relationship with with Blessed Diana d'Andalo, the founder of the Second Order of Dominican nuns. Unfortunately, her letters to him are lost, but his to her are preserved and apparently quite touching. There's was a deeply personal, apparently spiritual affinity which lasted throughout his life. In his last letter to her, he wrote, "O Diana, how miserable is the present state which we must endure since we cannot love one another without sorrow or think of one another without anxiety." She died in the same year as he, probably before that letter was delivered.

It galls a little to think that the Feast of St. Valentine, about whom nothing even slightly romantic is recorded, becomes our big courtship holiday while the feast of this brilliant and passionate saint, who suffered a forbidden though mutual love in chastity for the love of his God, is nearly forgotten. It galls a little more than even the notion that he's not even recognized as a saint.

Happy Saint Jordan's Day.

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