{    Cnytr   }

{Monday, January 24, 2005  }

.:{St. Dominic and the Army - the Militia Jesu Christi }:.

In a post today, Zadok calls attention to an apparent revival of "muscular Christianity".

This reminded me that one time I had stumbled across the very cool Militia Jesu Christi in their modern day (yet still stuck in the sword phase and therefore merely wishful thinking) incarnation.

In doing a bit of research, I came to find that the Militia Jesu Christi was the beginning of the Dominican Third Order. Indeed, Pope Benedict XV said in his Fausto Appetente Die,

Joined to this zeal in retaining and defending the Faith there was in Dominic a supreme reverence for the Apostolic See. It is recorded that, prostrate at the feet of Innocent III, he vowed himself to the defense of the Roman Pontificate, and that the same predecessor of ours the following night saw him in vision sustain on his courageous shoulder the tottering pile of the Lateran Basilica. History tells, too, how when he was training his first followers to Christian perfection, Dominic thought of gathering from pious and devout lay people a certain sacred militia which would defend the rights of the Church and resist heresy with vigor. Hence arose the Third Order of the Dominicans which, spreading among lay people the institute of a more perfect life, was to be a truly great ornament and defense to the Church.

Indeed, the period of Spain in which Dominic lived was very militaristic -- 11th and 12th century Spain still had the Moors in their country to fight. And so the habit of the Ordo Praedicatorum was like the knights of the day, with their colors or their banner displayed in front of the uniform -- as the scapular of the habit -- and one's weapon at one's left side to be easily drawn by the right hand. Hence, the Dominican wears his rosary on the left side of his habit... this weapon may easily be drawn by his right hand.

This is, at least, the tradition as put down by Bld. Raymond of Capua in the 14th century. The other tradition around the Third Order is the Penitents of St. Dominic, a group of lay persons devoted to the ascetic life and to penance.

Both cool traditions, but the Milita is more *fun*, if less historically accurate (possibly! I maintain that it is probably true).

Another account says that the Militia may have grown into the Penitents:

According to the testimony of Lacordaire and other writers of the Order, it was during this preaching of the Divine Word in Lombardy that the saint organized the Third Order, or The Militia of Jesus Christ, as it was then called. This remarkable organization was made up of men pledged to the protection of the rights and property of the Church. It was at first a distinctly military body; but afterwards, under the title of The Order of Penance of St. Dominic, its character was changed to enable men and women still living in the world to acquire something of the spirit of the religious life. It assumed a still greater influence and importance when it established branches for its women members who desired to retire from the world and practice the religious life in all its fulness. These religious of the Third Order, as it is commonly called, constitute one of the most important and fruitful branches of the entire Dominican family. It cannot be more fittingly described than in the following beautiful words of Father Faber: "There is not a nook of the mystical paradise of our Heavenly Spouse where the flowers grow thicker or smell more fragrantly than this order of multitudinous childlike saints. No where in the Church does the Incarnate Word show His delight at being with the children of men in more touching simplicity, with more unearthly sweetness or more spouse-like familiarity."

NewAdvent.org has more:

Simultaneously with them there came into being another and very different institution which, however, subsequently amalgamated with the Ordo de Poenitentia to form the Dominican Third Order. This was a military order, called the Militia Jesu Christi (soldiery of Jesus Christ) created for the defence of the Church against the Albigenses. It owed its origin to Bishop Foulques of Toulouse, Simon de Montfort (Federici, "Istoria de cavalieri Gaudenti", Codex Diplomaticus, I), and not improbably to St. Dominic, then a canon of St. Augustine. This connection with the founder of the Friars Preachers is first definitely propounded by Bl. Raymund of Capua, who became a Dominican about 1350. But the truth of this assertion is borne out by several other indications. As early as 1235, Gregory IX confided the Militia to the care of Bl. Jordan of Saxony, second master-general, by a Bull of 18 May (Federici, op. cit., 10); and in the same year he decreed for the knights a habit of black and white (op. cit., 14). Further, when the Militia was brought across the Alps and established in Italy it is found to be always connected with some Dominican church (op. cit., I, 13)....

Owing to the fact that both received the same spiritual administration of the Friars Preachers, they appear to have been merged together at the close of the thirteenth century. This is what Raymond of Capua implies as the result of his researches. So too their ultimate coincidence is hinted at by Honorius III in 1221 when he designates the Militia "nomine poenitentiae" (Federici, Codex Diplomaticus), and a comparison also of the rules of the two institutions: that of Gregory IX for the Militia in 1235 (op. cit., 12-16) and that of Muñon de Zamora for the Order of Penance of St. Dominic in 1285 (op. cit., 28-36) would lead one to the same conclusion. The only considerable difference that could be cited against this identify is that Muñon de Zamora expressly forbids the carrying of arms. But this is in reality but a further proof of their approximation, for he allows for the one exception which could possibly apply to the Militia, viz. in defence of the Church (ibid., 32). This amalgamation is admitted by the Bollandists to have become general in the fourteenth century (Acta Sanctorum, Aug., I, 418-422). From this double movement therefore... was born the modern Third Order of St. Dominic.

And now for some completely random Dominicanity:
St. Catherine of Siena's Vision of St. Dominic

The O Lumen

O Lumen Ecclesiae
Doctor veritatis
Rosa patientiae
Ebur castitatis
Aquam sapientiae
Propinasti gratis:
Praedicator gratiae,
Nos junge beatis.

O light of the Church!
Teacher of truth!
Rose of patience!
Ivory of chastity!
You have freely poure forth
The Water of Wisdom:
Preacer of grace,
Unite us to the blessed!

Ecstacy of St. Dominic from the Church of S. Clemente, Rome
posted by Lauren, 8:18 PM


Congratulations on becoming a Third Order Dominican. and I love your choice of names. I don't know how I found your site and I don't know a thing about blogging, nor do I have the time to, but e-mails I can read occasionally. Please contact me at virginia@pa.net. A fellow Dominican.
commented by Anonymous Virginia Dickens, T.O.P., 6:12 PM  

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