Blessed Jordan of Saxony (1190-1237)

Men prayed for strength to resist his burning eloquence, and mothers hid their sons when Master Jordan came to town. Students and masters warned each other of the fatal magnetism of his sermons. The sweetness of his character and the holiness of his life shone through his most casual words in a flame that drew youth irresistibly to the ideal to which he had dedicated his own life. In his sixteen years of preaching, Jordan is said to have drawn more than a thousand novices to the Order, among whom were two future popes, two canonized saints, numerous blessed, and countless intellectual lights of his dazzling century.

Of Jordan’s childhood nothing is known beyond the fact that he was German and of noble family. He was drawn to the Order by the preaching of Blessed Reginald, the beloved son of Dominic, brought back from death by Dominic’s and Our Lady’s prayers. Jordan was at that time about thirty years of age, a student at the University of Paris, and his reputation for sanctity had preceded him into the Order. He had worn the habit but two months when he was sent as a delegate to the general chapter in Bologna. The following year he was elected provincial of Lombardy, and on the death of St. Dominic, succeeded him as master general.

The Order was six years in existence when Jordan of Saxony became master general. He carried out the yet untried plans of St. Dominic, who had hurried off to heaven when many of his dreams were just beginning to open out into realization, and still more vistas beckoned beyond. Jordan will always be remembered especially for his work in increasing the manpower of the Order, but his contribution to its quality should not be forgotten. He added four new provinces to the eight already existing; he twice obtained for the Order a chair at the University of Paris and helped found the University of Toulouse; and he established the first general house of studies of the Order. He was a spiritual guide to many, including Blessed Diana d’Andalô; and somewhere in his busy lifetime he found time to write a number of books a life of St. Dominic and several other works.

Jordan was regarded as a menace by the professors of the universities. He emptied the classrooms of their most talented students, stole their most noted professors. Young men by the hundreds besieged the Order for admittance. Some were mere children, some famous lawyers and teachers, and some were the wealthy young bearers of the most famous names in Christendom. One and all, they were drawn to a life of perfection by this man who preached so well, and who practiced what he preached with such evident relish.

All the old writers speak of the kindness and personal charm of Jordan. He had the ability to console the troubled and to inspire the despondent with new ,hope. At one time, a discouraged student was busily saying the Office of the Dead when Master Jordan sat down beside him and began alternating the verses with him. When he came to the end of Psalm twenty-six, Jordan said the verse with emphasis: “Oh, wait for the Lord!” Wherewith the sorrows of the young man departed. Another student was rid of troubled thoughts merely by the imposition of Jordan’s hands. To bring peace to the brothers who were being annoyed by the devil, Jordan established the beautiful custom of singing the “Salve Regina” after Compline each night.

Jordan was drowned when returning from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1237.

(Source : Dorcy, Marie Jean. St. Dominic’s Family. Tan Books and Publishers, 1983)