-by Br Jordan Scott, OP, English Province
“Blessed Jordan of Saxony (1190-1237) was born in Germany to a noble family and lived there until he moved to Paris to attend its famous university. It was there that he met St Dominic and, after his encounter with Reginald of Orleans, he was clothed in the habit in 1220. Only one year later he was elected by the General Chapter to succeed Dominic as Master of the Order.
Described by his early biographer Gerald de Frachet as ‘the most worthy successor of Dominic’ Jordan has always been remembered as ‘a mirror of every aspect of religious observance, an exemplar of virtue, a man [of] unblemished chastity of mind and body. ‘
Indeed, Jordan’s example is said to have drawn a thousand men to join the Order and his intercession is still called upon to stir up zeal in men and women and lead them to consecrate their lives to God in the white habit of St Dominic.
In the many stories told of Blessed Jordan mention is always made of his charity, patience and love of others. He never failed to confirm the brethren in the faith and reassure them in times of trial. It was, undoubtedly, this commitment to building up his brothers and sisters that drew him to the attention of the devil who, it is said, after many attempts to destroy Jordan in both body and spirit eventually tried to make peace with him, offering to never tempt the brethren again if the holy friar would refrain from preaching against him.
Perhaps Dominicans throughout the ages have occasionally thought: ‘If only Jordan had taken the devil up on his offer.’ It would certainly make life easier if the tempter stayed out of our way! But of course, such mischievous thoughts are in fact signs of an unnecessary despair, a despair in which Blessed Jordan would never leave his brothers.
It was said earlier that Jordan’s life was characterised by his confirming and strengthening the brethren in times of difficulty and trial but how did he do this? He would do what the Order of Preachers exists to do: proclaim the Good news. The news that victory belongs to our God, that Jesus has freed us from our sins and saved us from all unrighteousness.
Whenever anything bad happens to us, whenever we feel weak or oppressed by our wrongdoings we can follow Jordan’s advice and turn to Christ on his Cross. Calling out to the Sacred Heart we can plead ‘Lord, have mercy us’ and as He Himself said: ‘Come to me all you who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest’ (Mat. 11:28).
Jordan of Saxony is credited with introducing the practice of singing the Salve Regina in procession at the end of Compline, done, it is recorded, to calm the spirits of the Brothers, who were being tried by the devil.
Salve, Regina, Mater misericordiæ,
vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve.
Ad te clamamus exsules filii Hevæ,
Ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes
in hac lacrimarum valle.
Eia, ergo, advocata nostra, illos tuos
misericordes oculos ad nos converte;
Et Jesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui,
nobis post hoc exsilium ostende.
O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria.
℣ Ora pro nobis, sancta Dei Genitrix.
℟ Ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi.
Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui gloriosæ Virginis Matris Mariæ corpus et animam, ut dignum Filii tui habitaculum effici mereretur, Spiritu Sancto cooperante præparasti: da, ut cuius commemoratione lætamur; eius pia intercessione, ab instantibus malis, et a morte perpetua liberemur. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum.