Blessed Reginald of Orleans
This Saturday, February 12th, we Dominicans honor the memory of one of the most important early members of our Order, Blessed Reginald of Orleans (ca. 1183-1220). Blessed Reginald was born in France, in the city of Orleans, and received his education in Canon Law at the University of Paris. Blessed Reginald was renowned as a brilliant teacher, and because of his talents and virtues he was made dean of the cathedral chapter at Orleans. He was known both for the brilliance of his mind and the eloquence of his preaching. He also was deeply devoted to Our Lady.
The zealousness of young Reginald soon led him to desire to go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. On his way to Jerusalem, he stopped in Rome and paid a visit to Cardinal Hugh de Segni, to whom he explained his desire for a more ascetic way of life. Cardinal de Segni told Reginald he knew exactly what he was looking for, and so sent him on to St. Dominic. Thus Reginald became an early member of the Order of Preachers.
Reginald had scarcely entered the Order when he became deathly ill. St. Dominic, knowing that this bright young man would be an invaluable asset to the fledgling Order, prayed earnestly for his recovery. It was the Queen of Heaven herself who responded to the prayer. In a dream, Reginald had a vision of Mary, accompanied by St. Cecilia and St. Catherine of Alexandria. Our Lady anointed Reginald with a heavenly perfume. She also showed to Reginald a long white scapular and told him it was to be part of the habit of the Order. The friars, who up until that time (1218) had worn the garb of Canons Regular, gladly changed to the scapular designed for them by the Mother of God. Reginald wore this new habit for two years, preaching to huge crowds in Paris and Bologna, drawing many to follow his footsteps into the Order, famous professors and doctors of law, including a young German, Jordan of Saxony. He was dubbed a kidnapper of souls for the service of God. After two years Reginald died, having the honor of being the first friar to wear the distinctive Dominican habit and the first one to die in it.
Blessed Reginald remains for us one of the great models of our way of life. He was a man of great intellect, one of the leading academic lights of his day, yet these talents were always put to the service of God. His eloquence as a preacher and his life of virtue has rightly earned him a place among the greatest of Dominicans.