Miracle at St. Sixtus

Stained glass window from St. Dominic’s Church in Washington, D.C. Photo by Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P.
Stained glass window from St. Dominic’s Church in Washington, D.C. Photo by Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P.

The following reflection is part of an ongoing series about the life of St. Dominic & the Order of Friars Preachers.

As the number of his brothers and communities increased, Dominic constantly traveled among them to encourage community members in their undertakings. After stays in Paris and Prouille he returned to Rome in January 1218. The eloquent preaching of the friars in Italy had attracted much attention–they are said to have been the first religious to preach publicly in Bologna–and admiration for them increased when it was learned that they were disciples of Dominic, whose fame had by this time spread throughout the country.

One of the most compelling events in the infant days of the Dominican Order was the miraculous feeding of the brothers at St. Sixtus Convent in Rome. It not only reveals Dominic’s profound faith and deep confidence in God’s help but also illustrates the true spirit of poverty. Because the friars had given all they had to the poor, they had no food for themselves, so two were sent into the city to beg. At the end of the day they had received nothing. When they returned to the refectory, an ample supply of bread appeared at Dominic’s intercession. Two angels carrying loaves of bread in two white cloths that hung from their shoulders miraculously appeared in the refectory and began to serve the brothers, beginning with the youngest member of the community. When the last loaf was placed in front of Dominic, the angles disappeared. Since then Dominican priories and convents have commemorated this miracle by serving meals first to the younger members of the Order.

Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P. (a member of the English Province) was invited by the Dominican Foundation to take pictures of some of the locations where our friars serve throughout the Northeast. During his time in Washington, D.C., Fr. Lew photographed the interior of the Church of St. Dominic. St. Dominic’s has been the church where our friars are ordained to the priesthood each May. Surrounding the church, is a collection of beautiful stained glass windows that chronicle the life of St. Dominic & the foundation of the Order of Preachers. Fr. Lew accomplished a great work by capturing the splendor of these windows, and in the process, the life of a towering saint.