In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
Once again from the Gospel lesson we read the beautiful story of the Annunciation, that Mary would be Theotokos, the Greek word for “The One Who Bears God.” This is also the Feast of St. Dominic of Silo. He’s not to be confused with the other St. Dominic, founder of the Dominicans, but there’s a sweet, poignant story that connects both Dominics and a bit to the Annunciation.
Our saint today, Dominic of Silos, was born in Spain to a peasant family around the year 1000. As a young boy he spent countless hours in the fields, welcoming the solitude. He eventually became a Benedictine priest and served in numerous leadership positions. Following a dispute with the king over some property, Dominic and two other monks were exiled. They established a new monastery in what at first seemed an unpromising location. But under Dominic’s leadership it became one of the most famous houses in Spain and many healings were reported there.
About 100 years after Dominic’s death, a young woman made a pilgrimage to his tomb. There Dominic of Silos appeared to her and assured her that she would bear a son. The woman was Joan of Aza, and the son she bore grew up to be the “other” Dominic, the one who founded the Dominicans, the Order of Preachers.
For many years thereafter, the staff used by St. Dominic of Silos was brought to the royal palace whenever a queen of Spain was in labor. That practice ended in 1931.
But these stories of a mother’s miraculous pregnancy gladden our hearts, especially this time of the year. Few things are said with stronger feeling than “Unto us a child is born—unto us a son is given.” The only thing that could rival that are the words “Unto us a child is born—unto us a daughter is given.”
St. Dominic is patron saint of prisoners, shepherds and of course pregnant women. St. Dominic de Silos (pray for us.)