Saint Dominic of Silos

Saint Dominic of Silos

(† 1073)

Saint Dominic, a Saint of the eleventh century, was given the surname of Silos because of his long sojourn in the monastery of that name. He was of the line of the ancient kings of Navarre. He undertook on his own to study his religion, having virtually no teacher but the Holy Spirit. Ordained a priest, he entered a monastery of the Order of Saint Benedict, where his sanctity soon placed him in the first ranks as its Abbot.

The monastery of Silos had greatly declined from its former glory and fervor. The monk Licinian, who was deploring this situation, was offering Holy Mass on the day when Dominic entered the church. By a special permission of God, when the priest turned towards the people at the Offertory to chant: Dominus vobiscum, he said instead: Behold, the restorer cometh! and the choir responded: It is the Lord who has sent him! The oracle was soon to be visibly fulfilled. The charity of the Saint was not concentrated only in his monastery, but was extended to all who suffered afflictions. His gift of miracles drew to the convent the blind, the sick, and the lame; and it was by the hundreds that he cured them, as is still evident today from the ex-votos of the chapel where his relics are conserved. The balls-and-chains, iron handcuffs and the like, which are seen suspended from the vault there, attest also to his special charity for the poor Christians held captive by the Spanish Moors. He often went to console them and pay their ransom, thus preluding the works of the Order of Our Lady of Ransom, founded in 1218, 145 years after his death.

After many years of good works, Dominic felt the moment of the recompense approaching, and was advised of it by the Blessed Virgin. I spent the night near the Queen of Angels, he said one day to his religious. She has invited me to come in three days where She is; therefore I am soon going to the celestial banquet to which She invites me. In effect, he fell ill for three days, and then his brethren saw his soul rise in glory to heaven.

At his tomb Saint Joan of Aza, mother of Saint Dominic of Guzman, Founder of the Order which bears his name, later obtained the birth of her son, baptized under the name of his holy patron.

Maria in der Tanne

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Maria in der Tanne

The amiability of the Mother of God has very often been shown in the way she attracts the faithful to special places of pilgrimage, thus increasing their love and confidence in her. One such place is Triberg in the German Black Forest, where Our Lady is honoured at the Shrine of Maria in der Tanne (“Mary in the Fir”).

In 1644 a 7-year-old girl named Barbara Franz was walking with her mother. They came to a stately fir tree near a spring. Someone had, at an earlier time, attached a picture of Mary in her Immaculate Conception to the tree, but it had fallen to the ground. Barbara picked up the picture and took it home. There she placed it on the home altar, where the whole family venerated it. Three days later Barbara became very ill, with an affliction in her eyes. No remedy seemed to help, so her afflicted parents begged for God’s help through Our Lady. In a dream, Barbara was told she would be cured when she returned the picture to the fir tree by the spring. She did so and, together with her parents, prayed fervently. When Barbara washed her eyes in the spring, she was instantly cured.

The next year, a wood-cutter, Friedrich Schwab became very ill. Having heard of the miraculous cure, he made a pilgrimage to the tree-shrine and promised to make a wood carving of Our Lady if he was cured. He, too, washed in the waters of the spring and was instantly cured. He kept his promise and replaced the ageing picture with his lovely carving.

Unfortunately, the statue was almost forgotten as the years passed. On December 20, 1692, three soldiers heard beautiful singing near the area. They made inquiries and discovered that others had also heard the singing. Then they were told that there had formerly been a shrine of Our Lady in a fir tree in that place. They diligently searched the area and at last located the little statue, almost grown over in the fir tree. The soldiers uncovered, cleaned and decorated the statue, naming it, “Mary, Patroness of Soldiers.” One of them, Gabriel Maurer, was also favoured with a miraculous cure. For 35 years he helped in the building of the pilgrimage church.

This time the shrine was not forgotten. As more cures took place, more and more pilgrims came. The first small chapel was soon replaced by a magnificent baroque church, where the little wood carving was enshrined.