Today, in the 1962 Dominican Rite Calendar, we make a commemoration of Blessed John of Vercelli, 6th Master General of the Order. The Advent ferial office is prayed, according to the rubrics, and the commemoration of Blessed John is made at Lauds and Vespers, since his is a privileged commemoration. In addition, a second commemoration is made of SS. Cyriacus, Largus, and Smaragdus, Martyrs. At Pretiosa, the obits of Thomas Turco of Cremona, 56th Master General of the Order and Alexander Vincent Jandel of Nancy in France, 73rd Master General of the Order are read.
Although Humbert de Romans is generally regarded as the “father” of the Dominican Rite of Mass and Office, it was Blessed John of Vercelli who, in the year 1267, petitioned Pope Clement IV to formally approve the Dominican Office. Pope Clement IV did so in the Bull "Consurgit in nobis", issued on July 7, 1267. He is also the founder of the Holy Name Society.
From Lesson iii at Matins:
John was a native of Vercelli and qualified at Paris as a doctor both of civil and canon law. While he was carrying out this office at Vercelli, encouraged by the Master General Jordan, he entered the Order of Preachers. Later he founded a convent there, which he also governed as prior. Afterwards, while most religiously ruling the Province of Lombardy, he was in the year 1264 elected as sixth Master General of the Order. Austere with himself, gentle towards others, he quickly visited nearly all the Order’s convents in Europe, and for almost twenty years labored fruitfully and attentively for the good of the whole Order. Furthermore, he made out an agenda for the Second Council of Lyons and at the request of Pope Gregory X zealously propagated the practice of showing reverence to the name of Jesus. John strenuously upheld the reputation and teaching of Thomas Aquinas. Averse to honors and unremitting in his work, he died peacefully at Montpellier. The devotion shown to him from time immemorial was confirmed by Pius X.
From “The Martyrology of the Sacred Order of Friars Preachers” (Fr. William Bonniwell, O.P., Newman Press, 1955):
At Montpellier in Gaul, the birthday of Blessed John of Vercelli, the sixth master-general of the Order of Preachers. He was eminent both by his learning and his virtues. He restored religious discipline in his monasteries, and labored untiringly as an arbiter for peace, in the name of and by the authority of the Roman Pontiff, in reconciling kings and cities.
O God, you willed that the blessed John should shine with wonderful prudence and constancy; grant, through his intercession, that your family may always and everywhere be governed by beneficial rule. Through our Lord…