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|Blessed John Dominici, O.P.|
|Dominican religious and
Cardinal Archbishop of Ragusa
|Died||10 June 1419
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church
|Beatified||1837 by Pope Gregory XVI|
|Major shrine||Church of St. Paul the Hermit
(destroyed in Turkish invasions)
The Blessed John Dominici, O.P., (1356 – 10 June 1419) was an Italian Dominican friar who became a Cardinal, statesman and writer. His ideas had a profound influence on the art of Fra Angelico, who entered the Order through him.
Dominici was born in Florence in 1356 to very poor, but devout, parents. Growing up, he would spend hours each day in the Dominican Church of Santa Maria Novella. Not surprisingly, at the age of 17 he sought admission to the Order. He suffered, however, from a severe speech impediment, which, combined with a lack of formal education, made the friars doubt the validity of his vocation to their Order. They refused him admission repeatedly over the course of two years, even insisting that he should stay home to care for his parents, while his parents insisted that they did not want to stand in the way of his religious calling.
He was then accepted and began his novitiate with the friars there. To their surprise, they sound found that he had a sharp mind, with a good grasp of the complexities of theology and philosophy, so much so that he was sent to the University of Paris to further his studies. On his return from Paris, when he completed his theological studies in 1372, his speech impediment finally became the problem which the authorities of the Order had feared. Preaching was an expected part of each friar's life, and clearly this would be a problem for this particular friar. John sought the intercession of the holy Dominican tertiary, St. Catherine of Siena, who had recently died, and he was miraculously cured of his disability. He was then appointed professor and preacher, a post he held for twelve years at Venice.
In 1392 John was appoint Vicar Provincial of the Roman Province. It was a time of disorder for Order, which had suffered major losses in membership through a great plague. (The priory in Venice alone, e.g., had lost 77 friars in a matter of months.) With the authorization of the Master General, Raymond of Capua, John established priories of strict observance of the Order at Venice (1394) and Fiesole (1406). It was in the latter that the talented artists and brothers, John and Benedict, entered the Order, John going on to be known in history as Fra Angelico. Dominici also founded the Monastery of Corpus Domini (Venice) at Venice for the Dominican nuns of the Strict Observance; a contemporary account of his life was found in the chronicle and necrology of that monastery by Bartolomea Riccoboni.
John was sent as the envoy of Venice to the papal conclave of 1406 in which Pope Gregory XII was elected. The following year the pope, whose confessor and counsellor he had become, appointed him Archbishop of Ragusa (Dubrovnik), created him cardinal in 1408 and sent him as ambassador to Hungary, to secure the adhesion of Sigismund to the pope.
At the Council of Constance Dominici read the voluntary resignation which Gregory XII had adopted, on his advice, as the surest means of ending the Great Schism which had arisen to divide Western Christianity. At that point he resigned his cardinalate, to make clear to all that he had no desire to advance through his accomplishment. Pope Martin V appointed him papal legate to Bohemia on 19 July 1418, but he accomplished little with the followers of John Hus, owing to the timidity of King Wenceslaus IV.
Dominici died at Buda in 1419, and he was buried in the Church of St. Paul the Hermit in that city. His tomb became a site of miracles and his remains were venerated until the church was destroyed during a Turkish invasion of the country. John was beatified by Pope Gregory XVI in 1837 and his feast day is observed on 10 June in the Dominican Order.
Dominici was not only a prolific writer on spiritual subjects but also a graceful poet, as his many vernacular hymns, or Laudi, show. His Regola del governo di cura familiare, written between 1400 and 1405, is a pedagogical work which treats, in four books, of the faculties of the soul, the powers and senses of the body, the uses of earthly goods, and the education of children. .
His Lucula Noctis, in reply to a letter of Nicola di Piero Salutati, is the most important treatise of that day on the study of the pagan authors. Dominici did not completely condemn classical studies. He did however express very strong criticism of some humanist tendencies, such as the use of rhetoric in politics and the rise of the professional politician.
- "Bl. Giovanni Dominici". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.
- "Political Views in the Preaching of Giovanni Dominici in Renaissance Florence, 1400-1406" by Nirit Ben-Aryeh Debby, Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. 55, Number 1
- Encyclopædia Britannica article on Fra Angelico