Mary, Mother of St. Dominic

Photo by Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P.


Mary, Mother of St. Dominic
By Br. Titus Mary Sanchez, O.P.
This article originally appeared in Dominicana and is reprinted with permission.

Filial love of Mary is an essential aspect of the Dominican character. The Order of Saint Dominic is Blessed Mary’s Order. Our Order was established by her intercession and has been sustained by her aid for eight centuries. The Order could not have survived long if it could only rely upon the wisdom of its men, the learnedness of its scholars, or the rhetoric of its preachers. If one removed Marian devotion from our life, what you would find would be unintelligible—it would simply not be a Dominican friar’s life any longer. Why?

There are three elements proper to our life—each distinctively Dominican—that manifest the Marian character of the Order of Preachers.

First, Dominican friars take a vow of obedience to Blessed Mary, which constitutes the proper willingness to serve Our Lady. By our vow, we merely echo her words, “Let it be done to me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38). With this vow, the friar submits everything in his life to his Queen—truly we say with our vows: “Totus tuus ego sum Maria—I am totally yours, Mary.” Our Lady accepts a friar’s vow as permission to use him however she pleases.

Second, Dominican friars wear the white scapular, which constitutes the proper uniform given to us by Our Lady—Marian accoutrement, if you will. In the very first days of the Order, the Virgin miraculously gave the scapular to Blessed Reginald of Orleans. After this, St. Dominic decreed that all friars would wear this special gift from heaven. The scapular is a protection against the snares of the devil and it is a constant reminder of whose uniform we wear. Our habit—our uniform—is from heaven, a gift from our Mother.

Third, Dominican friars pray often the Salve Regina and the holy rosary, which constitute the proper praise and salutation to Our Lady. Again, from the very earliest times of the Order, the Salve Regina was instituted to be sung each night by every house in the Order, after compline. This ancient hymn of devotion reconsecrates the Order to the Virgin and pleads for her maternal protection against the wiles of the devil. (Dominicans have always sung a unique tone for the Salve!) The holy rosary too is a gift specially received by the Order of St. Dominic. I cannot proclaim all the glories of the rosary here—the Battle of Lepanto, Bartolo Longo, Louis de Montfort—but no small number of souls have been saved by Mary’s children praying the rosary. With the daily crying out of the Salve Regina and the holy rosary, the Dominican friar gives fitting praise to the Queen of Heaven.

Now, as I said, to remove Marian devotion from the Order would render it no longer Dominican in character. If we cast aside the proper willingness to serve Our Lady (the vow), throw away the proper uniform given to us by our Lady (the scapular), and refuse to offer the proper praise to Our Lady (the Salve Regina and holy rosary), I do not know what we would be—but I shudder at the very thought of it. Who can claim God as his heavenly father and St. Dominic as his father in religion, but disrespect and fail to love Mary as his mother?

The Order of Preachers is Mary’s Order. In imitation of St. Dominic, her name ought to be engraved on the heart of every member of our Order.

Given the centrality of Mary to the life of the Dominican, I offer a final thought: If you wish to give yourself to the Blessed Queen of Heaven, follow the way of St. Dominic.

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