Novena to St. Dominic-Day Five
From the LIbellus of Bl. Jordan of Saxony
One day a famous disputation was being held at Fanjeaux and a large number of the faithful and unbelievers had gathered. Many of the former had written their own books containing arguments and authorities in support of the faith. After these books had been inspected, the one written by Blessed Dominic was commended above the others and unanimously accepted. Accordingly, his book and that produced by the heretics were presented to three judges chosen with the assent of both sides, with the understanding that the side whose book was chosen as the more reasonable defense should be regarded as having the superior faith.
After much wrangling, the judges came to no decision. Then they decided to cast both books into a fire and, if either of them was not burned, it would be held as containing the true faith. So they built a huge fire and cast the books therein. The heretical book was immediately consumed by the fire, but the one written by the man of God, Dominic, not only escaped burning, but, in the sight of all, leaped far from the fire. For a second and a third time, it was cast into the fire, but each time it leaped back and thereby openly testified to the truth of its doctrine and the holiness of the person who had written it.
Now since an orderly narration of the manner wherein the apostolic men, namely, our preachers, went from town to town in preaching the Gospel and taking part in disputations, would be lengthy, we omit this [narration] and go on to the most important events. One day all the heresiarchs assembled in a certain town called Montr6al, pertinent to the diocese of Carcassonne, to debate as a group against the oft-mentioned [preachers]. Brother Peter of Castelnau, who, as we mentioned a short while ago, had left his associates at Béziers, returned to take part in this disputation. Now for those taking part in the debate there was the provision of judges, [selected] from those who adhered to the heresy. The disputation lasted for fifteen days. [The arguments and counter-arguments of both sides] were recorded and the transcripts, drawn up in the form of propositions, were given to the judges for their final decision. Recognizing that their heretical [associates] had been most plainly defeated, the judges refused to make a decision; [and], lest the writings which they received from our representatives should come to the knowledge of the public, they refused to give them back to our men and handed them over to the heretics (Cernai).
A Certain Miracle. At that time a miracle which we deem worthy of insertion here took place. One day, some of [these] religious men, our Preachers, were disputing against the heretics. One of ours by the name of Dominic, a man of complete holiness who was a companion of the bishop of Osma, reduced to writing the authorities he had used in a debate [and] gave the manuscript to a certain heretic to study before giving [his] reply. That night, as the heretics sat by the fire in the house where they had assembled, the one to whom the man of God had given the manuscript produced it and [showed it to] his companions, [who] suggested that it be thrown into the fire. If the manuscript caught on fire, the faith (or perfidy) of the heretics would be true; if it remained intact, they would admit that the faith which our men were preaching is good. What then? They all agreed and the manuscript was cast into the fire, but, although it remained in the midst of the flames for some time, it leaped from the fire without being burned at all. They were astounded. But one of them, more hardened than the rest, said "Throw it back into the fire, so that we can make a fuller test of the truth." So it was thrown again into the fire and once more it came back unharmed. When the man who was calloused and slow to believe saw this, he said, "Throw it back a third time and then we shall have no doubts about the outcome of the affair." For a third time it was cast into the fire and for a third time it escaped burning and came back whole and unscorched. But in spite of so many manifest signs, the heretics even then refused to be converted to the faith, but, remaining fixed in their hardness, they pledged themselves in the strictest manner to keep the miracle from coming to the knowledge of our men. But a certain knight who was there [and] who was slightly inclined to hold to our faith refused to cover up what he had seen and made it known to many persons. Knowledge of this miracle, which took place at Montréal, came to me from the mouth of that very religious man who had given the manuscript to the heretic. (Cernai, copied by Humbert, nos. 17-18). A similar event is said to have occurred at Fanjeaux in the course of a solemn disputation being held against the heretics (H. 18).