Wednesday, December 6, 2017

December 6: St. Nicholas and the O Lumen Ecclesiae Antiphon.

This is the fourth year in a row that I have posted a link between St. Nicholas, who's feast we celebrate today, and the Dominican Order.  The feast of St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, is one of my favorite non-Dominican feasts in the liturgical calendar.  It holds the liturgical rank of III Class, as in the Roman Rite, but unlike the latter rite the Dominican Breviary contains a near-complete set of propers, as if the feast were II Class (you can download the text of the propers here, taken from the 1967 English Translation of the Breviarium S.OP.).

So now, for the fourth year in a row, I have stumbled across a connection between St. Nicholas and our holy Order.  Three years ago I did a post about how the feast of St. Nicholas was elevated to a totum duplex (1st Class) feast.  Two years ago, I did a post on how the famous mystical experience which ended St. Thomas Aquinas' prolific theological writing occurred on the feast of St. Nicholas, right after the Angelic Doctor finished offering the Mass of this saint.  Last year, I posted on the fact that, when St. Dominic was approaching death, and was too ill to walk, he was carried by the brethren by stretcher to the Church of St. Nicholas in Bologna.  And there, surrounded by his fellow friars, he passed to his eternal reward.

This past Spring, I came across an interesting article that was published in CLIOP...which is the newsletter of the International Liturgical Commission of the Order of Preachers.  Inside was a short articled entitled "Beyond the O Lumen Ecclesiae –Notes on St. Dominic’s antiphon 4".  The author, Fr. Robert Mehlahrt OP of Munich, posits that the famous O lumen ecclesiae antiphon for the office of St. Dominic may have borrowed heavily from an existing antiphon guessed it, the office of St. Nicholas (O Christi Pietas).  He gives four (4) interesting reasons why he believes O Christi Pietas could have been the inspiration for the famous Dominican antiphon.  Though he readily concedes that there is no where near enough information to make the case water tight, the article nevertheless makes for interesting reading.   It is a short article, and I highly recommend it.  You can find it here.

So there you go, yet one more (possible!) connection between the Order of Preachers and this wonderful saint.

As always, I remind anyone who reads this blog to check out the website of a wonderful organization called The St. Nicholas Center, who contacted me two years ago to ask if they could include my post from last year on St. Nicholas and the Dominicans on their website.  I was happy to oblige.  This organization seeks to promote and educate the world on this wonderful saint, who is the inspiration for Santa Claus.


O God, you adorned the blessed bishop Nicholas with countless miracles; grant, we beseech you, that through his merits and prayers, we may be delivered from the flames of hell.  Through our Lord...