August 2 - Bl Jane, mother of Our Holy Father St. Dominic

They say that behind every powerful man is a woman. In the case of our holy Father St. Dominic, we can absolutely say that behind this great man of God was a holy, virtuous woman—Jane of Aza. She was mother not only of St. Dominic, but also of Bl. Mannes who followed St. Dominic into the Order. St. Dominic put him in charge of the monastery of nuns in Madrid and it is to this monastery we have the only extant document written by our holy Founder.

Jane of Aza was noted for her concern for the poor and regarded by the local people as a saint even in her own lifetime. Married to Felix de Guzman she had 3 sons and perhaps one daughter. We know that 2 of St. Dominic's nephews joined the Order. St. Dominic's older brother Anthony also became a priest and devoted his life to the service of the poor.

Down through the centuries vivid stories of Jane's virtue continue to put flesh and blood and personality on this little known woman. There is a story that when she was pregnant with Dominic she had a dream in which she bore a dog that carried a flaming torch in its mouth and as he ran through the world he set it on fire. Perplexed and troubled by this dream she went to the nearby Benedictine abbey of S. Domingo de Silos, now made famous by the Chant CD's. There the monks gave her the answer that the child she was carrying would set the world ablaze by the fire of his words and preaching. At his birth, Bl. Jane named Dominic after the patron saint of this abbey.

The other story that has been handed down to us is that of the wine cellar. The great historian of the Order, H. M. Vicare, OP relates from the chronicle of Rodriguez de Cerrato, "Jane was very compassionate. When she saw the wretched condition of the unfortunate villagers, to whom she had already given many of her things, she distributed among the poor a certain barrel of wine, which everyone knew about in the locality. It was then that her husband, returning from a journey and hearing what happened, asker her to serve up some of this wine. Jane was filled with confusion. In answer to her prayers, however, the barrel was once more found full." To this day, pilgrims can see her wine cellars when they go to St. Dominic's birthplace of Caleruega, Spain.

Bl Jane was beatified by Leo XIII and Felix was declared Venerable by Gregory XVI . They are buried in Caleruega. There is a Dominican Monastery at the place of St. Dominic's birth and the de Guzman castle tower still stands.

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