Today the world over, Dominicans remember the feast of the translation, or moving of the body, of their founder, St. Dominic. In the medieval world, and in many countries today with a large Catholic population, veneration of the saints is an important part of life. Pilgrimages are often made to the burial places of favorite saints.
St. Dominic died on August 6, 1221 and was buried in the church of St. Nicholas of the Vineyards in Bologna, Italy. Twelve years later, Pope Gregory IX encouraged the Dominicans to move his body to a more suitable tomb. In a blog by a community of cloistered Dominican nuns in Texas, the sisters write that the brethren “were apparently too busy carrying on Dominic’s work to think of Dominic himself!”
A Wonderful Odor Poured Out
The sisters write that the brethren had misgivings about the translation, fearing that Dominic’s body —which “had lain in a mean tomb exposed to the elements,” according to Bl. Jordan of Saxony, the second master general of the Order of Preachers — would be found decomposed. However, their fears were foolish. When the tomb was opened “a wonderful odor poured out from the opening and its fragrance caused astonishment among those present. Everyone shed tears, and feelings of joy, of fear and of hope rose in all hearts.” The body was then taken to its new tomb in Bologna.
This day, May 24, 1233, was the beginning of the canonization process of Dominic and it was completed on July 3, 1234, when he officially became St. Dominic. Since 1267 St. Dominic’s remains have resided in the Basilica of San Domenico in Bologna.