Memorial Day: June 2nd
Saint Dominic’s dreams of converting the Tartars found realization in his sons. Missionaries did, in fact, go to the North during his lifetime, and many more were sent out by Blessed Jordan of Saxony. The more settles tribes of Poland and Hungary readily accepted the Gospel, and the North was not long in blooming with Dominican convents. But, in the thirteenth century, the restless millions of the East were riding down upon the fertile plains of Central Europe. Wild Tartar tribes soon destroyed what has been done for their more peaceful relatives, and scarcely a missionary survived to preach his message of peace to them.
Paul of Hungary and his band of ninety died as martyrs, probably in 1241. They were popularly honored as saints from earliest times. Soon to follow was the group headed by Blessed Sadoc, which had its headquarters at Sandomir, in Poland. So tragic was the early history of the Dominicans in Poland that, even in that martyred country, it is remembered. Polish Dominicans today wear a red cincture to recall the martyred hundreds who shed their blood that Poland might receive the light of truth.
Blessed Sadoc was a student at the university of Bologna when he met Saint Dominic and was received unto the Order. Being himself a Slav, he was eager to go to the North to preach the word of God. This he was given a chance to do when he and Paul of Hungary were given charge of the northern mission band. He soon accumulated a number of eager young students and novices, and proceeded to Poland with them. On his first night in the mission field, so say the old chronicles, the devil appeared to Sadoc and reproached him for disturbing his works: “And with such children as these,” he said bitterly, pointing to the young novices. With such as these, Sadoc did make havoc with the kingdom of evil: he won many souls to God, and, in Sandomir, he soon had the satisfaction of seeing a large community working for the glory of God.
In 1260, the Tartars made a fresh invasion into Poland and attacked Sandomir. Blessed Sadoc and his community had assembled for midnight Matins when they received warning of their approaching deaths. A novice, reading the martyrology for the following day, was amazed to see, lettered in gold across the pages of the martyrology, the words: ” At Sandomir, the passion of forty-nine martyrs.” On investigation, it was discovered that it was not merely a novice’s mistake, but an actual warning which they understood to be from heaven.
They spent the day in preparation for death. During the singing of the “Salve Regina,” after Compline, the Tarttars broke into the church and the slaughter began. One novice, terrified at the thought of death, fled to the choir loft to hide, but hearing his brothers singing, he realized that they were going off to heaven without him, and he returned to the choir to die with the others.
From this martyrdom came the customs of singing the “Salve Regina” at the deathbed of a Dominican-priest, sister, or brother. It is fitting that a life dedicated to God and Our Lady should end thus, with the battle cry “HAIL HOLY QUEEN!” echoing up from this valley of tears to be joined by the voices of Dominicans in heaven, who can now see forever the clement, loving, and sweet Virgin Mary.
Born: Various years within the Thirteenth century
Died: died 1260
Beatified: Their cult was confirmed in 1807 by Pope Pius VI