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August 8

Saint of the day:

Saint Dominic

Patron Saint of Astronomers; astronomy, Dominican Republic;
falsely accused people; Santo Domingo Pueblo, Valletta, Birgu (Malta), Managua


Saint Dominic’s Story

If he hadn’t taken a trip with his bishop, Dominic would probably have remained within the structure of contemplative life; after the trip, he spent the rest of his life being a contemplative in active apostolic work.

Born in old Castile, Spain, Dominic was trained for the priesthood by a priest-uncle, studied the arts and theology, and became a canon of the cathedral at Osma, where there was an attempt to revive the apostolic common life described in Acts of the Apostles.

On a journey through France with his bishop, Dominic came face to face with the then virulent Albigensian heresy at Languedoc. The Albigensians–or Cathari, “the pure ones”–held to two principles—one good, one evil—in the world. All matter is evil—hence they denied the Incarnation and the sacraments. On the same principle, they abstained from procreation and took a minimum of food and drink. The inner circle led what some people regarded as a heroic life of purity and asceticism not shared by ordinary followers.

Dominic sensed the need for the Church to combat this heresy, and was commissioned to be part of the preaching crusade against it. He saw immediately why the preaching crusade was not succeeding: the ordinary people admired and followed the ascetical heroes of the Albigenses. Understandably, they were not impressed by the Catholic preachers who traveled with horse and retinues, stayed at the best inns and had servants. Dominic therefore, with three Cistercians, began itinerant preaching according to the gospel ideal. He continued this work for 10 years, being successful with the ordinary people but not with the leaders.

His fellow preachers gradually became a community, and in 1215 Dominic founded a religious house at Toulouse, the beginning of the Order of Preachers or Dominicans.

Dominic’s ideal, and that of his Order, was to organically link a life with God, study, and prayer in all forms, with a ministry of salvation to people by the word of God. His ideal: contemplata tradere: “to pass on the fruits of contemplation” or “to speak only of God or with God.”






Basilica di San Domenico

(Saint Dominic’s Basilica)

Piazza San Domenico

40124 Bologna, Italy

*The remains of St Dominic rest within this church in an exquisite tomb called the Arca di San Domenico.

This tomb is placed in a large side chapel on the right side of the nave.

The relic of St Dominic’s skull is enshrined within a reliquary on the backside of the tomb.


St. Dominic's Orange Tree 

~at the Convent of St. Sabina in Rome


St. Dominic's Orange Tree at the Convent of St. Sabina in Rome

This sour orange tree is said to have been planted by St. Dominic who died in 1221 - making the tree some 800 years old. Clearly, this is most unlikely and the tree certainly does not look so ancient. It is plausible that the tree has regenerated itself from the original roots - possibly several times, but my research has found that the tree now present was re-propagated in 1939. 

In his 1938 book 'Hesperides: A history of the culture and use of citrus fruits' Samuel Tolkowsky writes "A prominent member of the Dominican order told me that the a new branch is said to have sprung up from the old trunk in the year in which Lacordaire re-established the Dominican order in France (1841).  I have carefully examined the tree, and while it is obvious that the present trunk is not the original one, the root is undoubtedly of great age, and in view of the extraordinary care with which the Monks look after it, I do not consider it altogether an impossibility that the root should be the actual surviver of the tree originally planted in Saint Dominic's time." 

THE ORANGE TREE  text taken from 'A Short Guide to Santa Sabina' by Fr. Hilary Carpenter. Published in 1962
Outside the vestibule of the basilica a door to the right leads into the quadrangle of the new section of the priory. In the corner of this quadrangle nearest the vestibule is the orange tree originally planted by St. Dominic. What remains of the original trunk is dead, it is true, but a vigorous shoot from its root has grown again into a fruitful tree. Some see in this the great revival of the Order a hundred years ago.Tradition has it that St. Dominic brought the young tree, or at least the seed, from Spain and certainly the oranges are of that bitter type so good for marmalade, known in England as Seville oranges. We learn from a letter of St. Catherine to Pope Urban VI, written in 1379, that she sent five candied oranges from this tree to His Holiness.It used to be the custom to pick the fruit very small, to dry it and make it into rosaries which were presented to the Pope and the Cardinals. Occasionally these small dried oranges are still to be found incorporated into rosaries.
The whole tree had to be lowered considerably when the general level of the ground was reduced during the construction of this new section of the priory. The two sides of the buildings, in the angle of which the tree stands, are part of the primitive construction.


The words that surround the tree are in Latin and states:


"THERE IS HOPE for a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease."

The Legend of the Orange Tree
In the quadrangular enclosure at Santa Sabina on the Aventine Hill in Rome, there is an orange tree. According to a legend, St. Dominic planted the seed from which it grows. In the nineteenth century, when the tree sent off a new and healthy shoot, having many oranges, someone noted that it was when Pere Lacordaire was a novice. Some took that as a symbol of the new vigor of the Order which was soon restored in France and of its increase in other provinces. And so the legend grew that when the orange tree produced well, there would be a flowering of the Order.





  • 4-5 Tarocco oranges, "supremed" and segmented

  • 16-20 Kalamata or Gaeta olives, pitted and quartered (lengthwise)

  • 4 tablespoons high-quality extra-virgin olive oil

  • ½ teaspoon Kosher sea salt (to taste)

  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 bunch (4 cups) watercress, washed, dried, and large stems removed


  1. "Supreme" the orange with a sharp chef's knife and remove the skin all the way down to and including the white pith on the orange. Cut it in half
    lengthwise and cut out each of the segments so that you have a 'naked' segments only. Add the oranges to a medium sized glass/ceramic bowl. Squeeze the skins of their juice into the bowl as well.

  2. Slice the olives and add to the bowl. The ration is 4-5 olives per orange.

  3. Give a couple of good drizzles of olive oil over the oranges and toss.

  4. Throw in a couple of good pinches of salt and taste. The salt should be 'salted' to taste ... but not 'salty.'

  5. Add freshly grated pepper and let salad stand for 30-60 minutes for flavors to marry.

  6. Just before serving, wash the watercress and spin dry. Pull the stems apart and discard any large, and 'woody' stems and
    breaking up the bunches in the process so that you don't have pieces more than a couple inches in length.

  7. To serve, place about ½ cup of watercress on each plate, top with a half cup of oranges, and spoon over a few tablespoon fulls of the vinaigrette.

Sicilian-Orange-Salad3 (1).jpg




Elderflower and Orange Cocktail


  • 2/3 cups Orange Juice, Plus More For The Rims

  • Sanding Sugar

  • 3 ounces, fluid St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur

  • 2 ounces, fluid Cointreau

  • 2 ounces, fluid Vodka

  • Orange Slices, For Garnish


  1. Rim the glasses with orange juice. Dip in sanding sugar. Set aside.

  2. Fill a cocktail shaker 2/3 full with ice.

  3. Add orange juice, St. Germain, Cointreau, and vodka.

  4. Shake vigorously for a minute, then strain into glasses. 

  5. Top each glass with an orange slice and serve immediately.

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