Today, in the 1962 Dominican Rite Calendar, we celebrate the feast of Blessed Jordan of Saxony, confessor and 2nd Master General of the Order of Preachers. The feast is III Class, and the ordinary office is prayed, with propers taken from the Proper of the Saints. At Lauds and Vespers a commemoration of St. Valentine, Martyr is made.
The feast of Blessed Jordan (of Saxony). On account of the probity of his life and teaching, he was considered by our holy Father Dominic as being worthy to govern the Order. Placed in authority, his zeal for the salvation of souls greatly augmented the Order in a short time. Having been shipwrecked and drowned, he entered heaven as a victor rich in merit.
From “Short Lives of the Dominican Saints” (London, Kegan Paul, Trench, and Trübner & Co., Ltd., 1901):
Blessed Jordan belonged to the noble German family of the Counts of Eberstein, and was born in the Castle of Borrenstrick, in the diocese of Paderborn. He began his studies in his native land, and was sent to complete them at the University of Paris, where he made extraordinary progress in learning, whilst at the same time he led a life of singular innocence and piety. Though not rich, he had bound himself by vow daily to bestow an alms on the first poor person he should meet. Now it chanced that on one occasion, as he was hurrying to assist at Matins at Notre Dame and believed himself to be late, he was accosted by a beggar. Not having his purse about him, he bestowed on the poor man the richly ornamented belt which he wore according to the custom of the times. On entering the church, he beheld to his astonishment on the great crucifix the very belt of which he had just deprived himself for the love of Christ.
When our Holy Father Saint Dominic visited Paris in the year 1219, Jordan opened his whole soul to him and by his advice received Deacon's orders. It was, however, the preaching of Blessed Reginald of Orleans which decided his vocation to the Order. In company with his beloved friend, Henry of Cologne, he received the habit in the Convent of Saint James on Ash Wednesday, A.D. 1220. A few weeks later he assisted at the first General Chapter of the Order at Bologna, where he again had the happiness of beholding the Holy Patriarch whom he loved so tenderly. On his return to Paris he taught in the schools and preached with great success, winning to the Order many illustrious members of the University. In the year 1221 he was appointed Provincial of Lombardy. He arrived in Italy to find that Saint Dominic was dead; and the General Chapter of the following year elected him as the Saint's successor in the office of Master-General of the Order. During the fourteen years of his government he founded many convents and clothed so vast a number of novices that it became the custom to provide cloth and habits beforehand when he was expected at any monastery, as crowds of postulants were certain to present themselves.
Many beautiful stories are related in his life of these wonderful vocations, and of the sweetness and charity displayed by Blessed Jordan to his spiritual children. The holy man was of a singularly joyous and cheerful disposition and the most troublesome temptations were dispelled by his mere presence. He had also a wonderful power over the evil spirits, who, being greatly enraged at the fruits which followed on his preaching, tried every art to destroy him. On one occasion a possessed person entered his cell and cut his throat so terribly that there seemed to be no hope of his recovery. But Jordan, after submitting to all that the doctors thought fit to prescribe, rose from his bed as soon as they were gone, and desiring the Brethren to prepare everything for Mass, celebrated the Holy Sacrifice; and, washing the wound with some wine which had been poured into the chalice, it at once closed and healed, and he went the same day to preach before the Pope.
This diabolical persecution extended to the entire Order; everywhere the Brethren were subjected day and night to the most harassing attacks and terrifying apparitions. Blessed Jordan, in the general distress, had recourse to her who is terrible to the demons as an army in battle array. He ordained that the Salve Regina, which had hitherto been only recited daily after Compline, should henceforth be sung processionally; and the effect of this ordinance was the immediate disappearance of these troublesome visitants.
Year by year, save when prevented by ill-health, Blessed Jordan presided over the General Chapter, at that time held at Paris and Bologna alternately. In these Chapters he framed many wise regulations for the government of the Order, arranged for its establishment in every part of Europe, and sent missionaries even to the confines of China. The intervals between the Chapters were spent in apostolic journeyings over France, Germany, and Italy. He chose by preference for the scene of his labors one or other of the seats of the great universities, Paris, Bologna, Padua, or Vercelli. In 1230 he preached the Lent at Oxford, where he gained a rich harvest of vocations and presided over the first Provincial Chapter held in England. He kept up a constant affectionate correspondence with his spiritual daughter, Blessed Diana d'Andalo, whom he had himself installed in her Convent of St. Agnes at Bologna; and he continually commended to her prayers and those of her Community the success of his work for the salvation of souls.
At the General Chapter held at Bologna, A.D. 1233, Blessed Jordan had the consolation of assisting at the translation of the relics of Saint Dominic, a ceremony which was accompanied by many miracles and prodigies. With his own hands he laid the sacred remains in a new coffin and presented the holy skull to be kissed by more than three hundred of the Brethren.
Blessed Jordan was on terms of intimacy with the great Ghibelline Emperor, Frederic II, to whom he spoke with the utmost frankness and courage, reproving him for his impiety and vice, and fearlessly braving his anger in the cause of God.
This indefatigable laborer in the vineyard of the Lord suffered from continual ill-health, and towards the end of his life became almost blind in consequence of his wonderful gift of tears. He worked many miracles, and was favored with numerous heavenly visions and revelations. He wrote a Life of Saint Dominic and composed a Little Office of five Psalms in honor of the holy name of Mary, to whom he bore the tenderest devotion. Willingly would we linger over this fascinating period of the history of the Order, and relate some of the many beautiful and edifying stories which reveal to us the sanctity of this most lovable servant of God, and which are to be found in the "Lives of the Brethren." But it is time to close this brief notice by relating the circumstances of his untimely death, which occurred in the year 1236. As he was returning from the visitation of the convents in the Holy Land he was shipwrecked and drowned off Acre. His body and those of his companions were washed on shore by the waves; a bright light shone over them and a heavenly fragrance diffused itself around. Many miracles were worked at his tomb and through his intercession, and his glory in heaven was revealed to many. He was beatified by Leo XII.
O God, you made the blessed Jordan wonderful with zeal for the salvation of souls and with the grace of spreading religious life; through the intercession of his merits, grant us always to live in that same spirit and to attain the glory laid up for us in heaven. Through our Lord...