Monday, July 25, 2016

Dominic Meets Francis

Dramatization of the meeting between St. Dominic and St. Francis
Sacred Movement

3 people: Narrator, St. Dominic, St. Francis
The setting is a church in Rome, the year 1216.Tradition holds that during Dominic’s second visit to Rome, in 1216, he met Francis of Assisi and they instantly recognized each other.

The legend begins with Saint Dominic praying. St. Dominic has nine ways of praying and on this particular night he was praying before a crucifix with his own arms spread out just like our Savior’s arms on the cross.  His shoulders were shaking from his weeping.  St. Dominic was blessed with the gift of tears and he spent many nights weeping his prayers, until he fell into blessed sleep.

Across town in another church, knelt St. Francis.  Francis was praying for papal confirmation of his new order.  He had never intended to start a religious order, but so many followers wanted to live his life of poverty, chastity, and obedience to the Gospels, that soon it had become obvious that some sort of order needed to be formed.  Francis’ eyes became weary and his head nodded off to sleep, in his contemplation.

Our two saints slept the sleep of those blessed by angelic visions.  Here we have Saint Dominic, an introverted mystic, dreaming of his sons and daughters, protected under the mantle of the Blessed Mother, Mary.  And over here we have Saint Francis, burning with passion to do great things for the Lord.

Saint Dominic envisions the necessity of educating his preachers to give them the tools necessary to explain the faith to the pagans and argue with the Albigensians heretics.  Saint Francis felt that his friars should tell the world what was in their hearts.  The love they carried would spread Jesus’ love.  Both dreamt of telling the pope of their visions and receiving confirmation and approval of their orders.
During these dreams, separate as their visions appear to be, something bizarre occurred.  They both dreamt of meeting without knowing each other.  


Saint Dominic dreamt of going to his papal audience and meeting a poor religious man.  His heart almost leapt out of his chest because he recognized a kindred spirit.  This man was holy.  This man was his brother.  Together the two of them would complement each other and build up the church and sustain it throughout the years.

Simultaneously, Saint Francis dreamt of going to see the pope about approval of his plans to start an order, and on his way, he met a poor religious man.  His heart wanted to fly out of his chest because it knew he was in the presence of a kindred spirit.  This was a holy man.  This man would light the world on fire with his preaching.  This was a brother.  They would help each other.  The church needed them—the contemplative and the active.  Together they would support the church.

The sun woke Saint Dominic.  His dream was still vivid.  He jumped up because he needed to see the pope and appeal for approval for his Order of Preachers.  He didn’t have time for breakfast, besides he would fast today as prayer for success.

The birds woke Saint Francis with their singing.  He wanted to just sit and listen to their song, but he had too much to do.  He had an appointment with the Pope!  He blessed himself and prayed quickly before he set off on his journey.

It was early and not too many people were out and about.  The morning air was cool and the walk was pleasant.  Both saints thanked God for the day and a good night’s sleep.  Both remembered the visions they had of meeting a holy man.
Suddenly, Saint Francis stopped.  Saint Dominic stopped.  Saint Francis blinked a few times and shook his head.  Saint Dominic rubbed his eyes.

Could it be?

Were they still dreaming in their sleep?

But their hearts were telling them that this was real.  Simultaneously, they both started running.  They fell into each other’s arms laughing and talking at the same time.  Somehow they managed to convey that they had dreamed of meeting.  This couldn’t be a coincidence.  This was the work of the Holy Spirit. 

Since they both were going to see the pope, they walked on, together.  Saint Francis spoke of his plans.  Saint Dominic did likewise.  They agreed to work together.  In the spirit of shared purposes, they even exchanged belts.  Saint Dominic gave Saint Francis the cord he wore around his waist to hold his rosary.  Saint Francis gave Saint Dominic the black belt some kind benefactor had given him. It would look good with Dominic’s white habit.  Both continued on to meet the pope and make their proposals.

There is a happy ending to our story.  Pope Gregory IX gave his papal confirmation to the Order of Preachers and the Order of Friars Minor. A close friendship sprang up between the two, and to this day Dominicans and Franciscans exchange visits on each other’s founder’s feast days as a sign of unity towards a common goal. The mutual influences of Dominic and Francis can be seen in the development of their orders: Francis may have influenced Dominic to expand the practice of the vow of poverty, and the Friars Minor adopted the Dominican constitutional system as a result of their turbulent history after Francis’ death. 

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