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Western Dominican Province
5890 Birch Court
Oakland, CA 94618-1626
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The Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA offers Masters and other degree and certificate programs rooted in the tradition of the Dominican order and our brother, St. Thomas Aquinas. Faithful to the teaching of Holy Mother, the Church, our school prepares not only young men studying for the priesthood, but also other men and women who will be the leaders of local communities of faith. Please do join in supporting this essential ministry of the Western Dominican Province.
Friar and Priest
Blessed John was born in Salerno, Italy, around 1190 and was ordained a priest. While pursuing studies at the University of Bologna he was attracted to the Order by the preaching of Blessed Reginald. St. Dominic himself received him and sent him to Florence to establish the priory of Santa Maria Novella. He also established a monastery of Dominican nuns at the nearby city of Ripoli. He was an eloquent preacher. Pope Gregory IX commissioned him to deal with the heretical sect known as the Patarines. He died at Florence in 1242.
God of truth, for the spread of the faith you made Blessed John a renouwned preacher of your word. By the help of his prayers may we confess with our mouths unto salvation what we believe with our hearts unto justice.
We ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Blessed John of Salerno
Friar and Priest
BLESSED JOHN of Salerno was a native of Southern Italy, and belonged to the illustrious family of Quarna, which was allied by blood to the Norman princes who long ruled over the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily. While pursuing his studies at Bologna, he became acquainted with our Holy Father, Saint Dominic, who himself received him into the Order. From that time Blessed John made marvelous progress both in learning and sanctity, and became one of the columns of the rising institute. The holy Patriarch regarded him with singular affection, and often took him as the companion of his journeys, and made choice of him to establish the Order in Florence. Twelve Brethren were selected for this important foundation, and Blessed John, though probably the youngest of the party, was appointed their Superior. They took up their abode at first in a small Convent which had been built for them at Ripoli, a few miles outside Florence; but this inconvenient abode was soon exchanged, first for San Pancrazio, adjoining the ramparts, and finally for Santa Maria Novella within the city. The eloquence and sanctity of the young Prior drew many illustrious recruits to the Order, and did much to stem the progress of the Manichaean heresy, of which Florence was at that time one of the chief strongholds.
He was a perfect model of a religious Superior, a most exact observer of the Rule, gentle, kind, and yet firm in enforcing its observance on others. He spent a great part of the night in prayer, often ravished in ecstasy; he celebrated Mass with angelic devotion, abundant tears, and minute care in the very least of the sacred ceremonies. He would often impress upon his subjects that, if a religious is bound to aim at perfection in all his actions, there was none which demands of him so much vigilance, piety, and purity as the reception of the Holy Eucharist. God made known to him the secrets of hearts ; hence on communicating days he would often warn seculars of hidden faults of which they had been guilty, and his own young religious of failings which had escaped their notice.
One day, when a possessed woman was being exorcized, the devil exclaimed : "I shall not go out of her save at the command of him who in the midst of the flames was not burnt." He was adjured to explain what he meant; then, with frightful yells and contortions, he named the Prior of the Dominicans. Blessed John was sent for, and immediately freed the woman from her infernal tormentor ; and this circumstance revealed a signal victory which he had gained when snares had been laid for his chastity, and which in his humility he had hitherto kept concealed.
The Friars at Florence had the happiness of receiving two visits from Saint Dominic in the years 1219 and 1220. The following year Blessed John was summoned to Bologna to assist at the death-bed of his beloved father.
During the closing years of his life, God favored the holy Prior with the gift of miracles, and he wrought many remarkable cures. He established a convent of religious women of the Order at Ripoli, where the Friars had first been stationed, and worked to his dying day for the good of the Church, the extirpation of heresy, and the propagation of the Order. At length, having for many years governed the Convent of Santa Maria Novella, worn out by his labors and austerities, he happily departed to our Lord, exhorting his Brethren with his dying breath to keep their vows faithfully, to love God with their whole heart, and to despise all perishable things. His tomb became a place of pilgrimage and was honored by many miracles. It was customary to keep a lamp burning in the chapel where the holy relics reposed. One day the oil failed, and the Sacristan, seeing a poor woman kneeling in prayer before the shrine, begged an alms of her to renew the supply. She assured him she had not a drop of oil nor the means of procuring any. "Go home," said the Brother; "I am quite sure that, through the merits of the servant of God, you will find some in your house." The poor woman went home and was surprised to find the little vessel in which she kept her supply of oil full to the brim. She immediately returned to the church and related the miracle in the presence of witnesses.
Blessed John of Salerno was beatified by Pius VI.
O God, who for the increase of the faith did make Blessed John, Your Confessor, a noble preacher of Your Word, grant to us, through his intercession, that what we believe with the heart unto justice we may confess with the mouth unto salvation.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.