Oderic of Normandy
—13th Century. First Cooperator Brother of the Order and one of the original 16 disciples of St. Dominic. Oderic was on his way to fight in the crusades against the Albigensians when St. Dominic met him along the road and persuaded him to fight a different kind of battle. Saint Dominic sent Br. Oderic with Blessed Mannes (Dominic's brother) and others to found the community at Saint Jacques in Paris. He is said to have performed his duties faithfully until his death.
Blessed Simon Ballachi
—1250-1319. Patron of gardeners. Simon came from a wealthy family and was trained in his youth to be a soldier. Despite his family's hopes, Simon joined the Dominicans as a lay brother. Simon's main duty was to care for the priory garden. Working in the garden and cleaning around the priory allowed Simon the opportunity to meditate and practice humility. Like other saints, Simon wore a metal chain around his waist for twenty years, even while during his manual labor. He was gifted with visits from St. Catherine of Alexandria, St. Dominic, St. Peter Martyr, and the Blessed Virgin Mary. Simon died on November 3rd, 1319. He was beatified in 1817. (Feast Day: Nov. 5th)
Blessed Garcia d'Aure--Brother Garcia was among the party that set out with Bl. William Arnauld, an inquisitor for the Diocese of Toulouse. A local noble, Count Raymond of Toulouse, was a heretic, and actively worked against Bl. William and his companions. This forced the party Bl. Garcia belonged to to seek refuge in nearby Avignonet, where the group continued its work. Eventually, the count succeeded in trapping the group, and murdering most of its members. Bl. William was even murdered inside the church, an act that resulted in the building being closed for forty years. Bl. Garcia, faithful friar, was among the religious murdered for the faith. (Feast Day: May 29th.)
Ristoro and Sisto
—d.1283, d.1289. Architects and designers of the famous Santa Maria Novella Church (depicted at the left) in Florence. Santa Maria Novella is a rarity, in that it was completely a project of religious. Cooperator brothers designed and built it from beginning to end.
Blessed Carino of Balsamo
—d.1293. Informally known as Blessed Carino. He is depicted below. Bl. Carino has one of the more interesting histories among any of the Dominican saints. He comes into contact with Dominicans as the hired assassin of St. Peter of Verona. Carino, after murdering St. Peter, fled the area and sought peace in Rome. Only, he grew sick along the way and had to stop for help at a priory. He didn't realize it, but he was in a Dominican priory. The sight of the Dominican habit was the last straw for Carino, and he confessed his sin. Carino made a promise to God that if he recovered from his illness he would become a Dominican cooperator brother and serve the community for the rest of his life. Sure enough, Carino recovered, received the Dominican habit, and spent the rest of his life working and praying faithfully. (Feast Day: Apr. 28th.)
On his death bed, Brother Carino confessed his sin again and begged to be buried in a potter's field. The town's people, however, knew what a saint the brother was, and bought the potter's field to give to the Dominicans. They needn't have worried. Carino was placed in a tomb in the Church. A local cult has continued, and steps were made to have him beatified, but slowed when Pope Pius VII died and the paper work was lost in the shuffle. He is remembered on April 28th.
Giovanni Brachetti (or da Campi)
—d.1339. Sculptor and architect. With Fra Jacopo Talenti, the designer of the priory for Santa Maria Novella.
—d. Oct. 2nd, 1362. Finished the work of Ristoro and Sisto, completing Santa Maria Novella in Florence in 1357. Worked with Giovanni Brachetti on the priory of Santa Maria Novella.
Giacomo di Andrea of Florence
—d.1369. Wood carver, stain glass maker, and architect. Worked in Florence, Rome, and Viterbo.
Guglielmo Agnelli da Pisa
—Of a noble family, Guglielmo joined the Dominicans in 1257 as a cooperator brother. He began using his skill in sculpture by building the campanile of the Abbey of Settimo. He worked with his master, Nicola Pisano, on the tomb of St. Dominic in Bologna. On the tomb, Guglielmo carved the details of six famous Dominican legends surrounding the founding of the Order of Preachers and St. Dominic's life. In 1293, Guglielmo was called to work on the Orvieto Cathedral, and in 1304, be began adorning the facade of San Michele di Borgo. He also worked on other parts of the church and pulpit. Of him Marachese said, "by reason of his many and important works, deserves to be ranked among the grandest Italian sculptors, far excelling all contemporaries. Arnolfo, Giovanni Pisano, and his master excepted." (Info. from the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia.
Bartolomeo della Porta
—March 28, 1472-Oct. 6th, 1517. Wonderful Renaissance painter. Joined the Order after hearing Savonarola preach. He lived at St. Mark’s in Florence. (A sample of his painting is to the left.)
Claudius Borrey and John Raymond
—d.1660-70, both of Toulouse, France. Designed the former tomb of St. Thomas Aquinas before it was destroyed in the French Revolution.
Giovannino of Marcojano(d.1348,) Marco, Girolamo Monsigniori of Verona d.1500-1519, and Fra Paolino da Pistoia
—all brothers skilled as painters. Fra Paolino's works can be found in the Getty Museum. He was a student of Bartolomeo della Porta (Paolino, Bartolomeo, and Fra Angelico are said to have been inspired by the famed preacher to enter religious life as Dominicans, and one time cooperator brother, Girolamo Savonarola.)
Eustachio of Florence
—d. Sept. 25th, 1555, a great illuminator at St. Mark’s convent in Florence.
—a miniaturist and illuminator of books. Lived at St. Mark’s in Florence.
Blessed James of Ulm
—1407-1491. (depicted at the left.) James began his adult life working with his father making stained glass windows, but James had the desire to go on pilgrimage to Rome. While traveling, James joined the army, but was disappointed by the corrupt lives some of the soldiers led. At the tomb of St. Dominic in Bologna, James felt the calling to religious life and became a Dominican lay brother. He went on to become a great stained glass window designer. He established a school for teaching the art of stained glass window making. Two of his students included his fellow lay brothers Fra Ambrogino and Fra Anastasio. Blessed James was noted for his obedience to his superiors. (Feast Day: Oct. 11th.)
Damiano da Bergamo
—16th Century. A great maker of wood mosaics and engravings. Teacher of Fra Bernardino, Fra Antonio Asinelli, and Fra Antonio da Lunigiana. One of his carvings is depicted at the right. His carved choir in St. Dominic's Church, Bologna was hailed the eighth wonder of the world.
Vincenzo da Palestrina
—Founder of the Confraternity of the Holy Savior in Rome in 1596.
—d.1559. Originally from Spain, Francis went to Pueblo, Mexico to find his fortune. It was in Pueblo that he met the Dominicans. He had earned a fortune, and kept it during the first years of Dominican life, but was soon distracted by his money. It wasn’t until he finally gave away his fortune that he was able to concentrate on religious life. People said of him: "Humble, joyous, good, and loved by all" (Dorcy, 291.)
—d1562. Was an officer in the Spanish army, which went to Peru. Due to cruelty to the Native Americans, Bartholomew and others were imprisoned and sentenced to death. Bartholomew escaped, confessed his sins, and joined the Dominicans in Mexico City. Bartholomew would go on to lead a life of strict observance, penance, and service to the Natives Americans of Mexico. He was sent with a party to go to Florida, but the ship was hit by a storm and everyone drowned.
Marcos de Mena
--d. 1584. The story of Marcos de Mena's missionary experience is as frightening as that of St. Isaac. Marcos and his brother, Juan (also a cooperator brother), along with a band of Spaniards were shipwrecked off the coast of Padre Island. Those who survived the initial shipwreck, took a boat, then, to Veracruz on the way to the the Spanish settlement Panuco. There had been 300 people on the ship, five of whom were Dominican friars. As the Spanish began the march to Panuco, they were attacked by natives, who shot them with arrows. Repeated attacks reduced the Spanish numbers greatly. Brother Marcos's brother Juan was killed, and Marcos was shot with several arrows and left for dead. Marcos wasn't dead, however, and pulled out the arrows and continued the march with the remaining others, but he couldn't go on. The others buried him in the sand with only his face uncovered. Sleep overtook him, and he eventually woke up somewhat recovered. With the help of two "Indians", Marcos was taken to the mission of Tampico, and finally to Panuco. The arrow wound healed, but would pain Marcos the rest of his life. He went to Mexico City, and eventually to Lima, Peru, where he died in 1584.
St. Martin de Porres
—1579-1639. Martin, depicted at the right by Fr. Robert Staes, OP, is probably one of the Dominican Order's most famous saints. I could probably fill many webpages with stories from Martin's life, so I'll be brief here. Martin's father was aristocratic and Spanish, while his mother was poor and black. He had one sister.
Because Martin was intelligent, he studied under a doctor and learned many things about healing--a practice that would become a ministry when he joined the Dominicans as a cooperator brother. Martin was known for many miracles. He is depicted with rats at his feet, because when he was ordered to get rid of the rats in the priory, he was able to persuade them to leave peacefully. He could bi-locate and levitate. He was great friends with St. Juan Macias and St. Rose of Lima. (Feast Day: Nov. 3rd.)
St. Juan Macias
—1585-1645. Friend of the poor, especially the poor souls in purgatory, St. Juan's life is full of miracles, including a friendship he had with St. John the Evangelist. Juan was born in Ribera, Spain. Guided by St. John the Evangelist, Juan ended up in Lima, Peru and entered St. Mary Magdalen's convent there. In the picture you see the little burro that Juan was known to send out on its own to collect food for the poor. According to Sr. Dorcy, if people ignored the burro, it would make a great noise until they finally donated. Juan was a catechist and great promoter of the rosary. Juan was a great friend of St. Martin de Porres, whom he often had picnics with. Our Lady, St. John the Evangelist, and other saints are said to have come to accompany Juan to his eternal reward. (Feast Day: Sept. 18th.)
St. Francis Shoyemon
—(d. 1633)A Japanese convert to Catholicism. St. Francis worked as a catechist and translator alongside the Spanish missionary, St. Dominic Ibanez de Erquicia. The two of them were imprisoned during the persecution of Christians, and it was while they were in prison that Francis received the Dominican habit and became a cooperator brother. He and Fr. Dominic were martyred together shortly afterwards. (Feast Day: Sept. 28th, with St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions.)
St. Matthew Kihioye of the Rosary
--1615-1633. Like St. Francis Shoyemon, St. Matthew of the Rosary was a native Japanese Christian who served alongside the European Dominican missionaries as a catechist. He was received into the Order of Preachers as a cooperator brother, and continued his ministry until he and other Christians were arrested for the faith. On October 19, 1633, St. Matthew of the Rosary and his companions were martyred by hanging in Nagasaki. (Feast Day: Sept. 28th, with St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions.)
—d. Dec. 9th,1591. Br. Peter Martinez was born in Segovia, Spain. Like Bl. Simon, Peter would meditate while he gardened. He also had a great devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Our Lady appeared to Peter and told him to become a Dominican and volunteer for the missions of the East. Peter dutifully became a cooperator brother and was known to be "hard-working" "of a sweet disposition" and possessing a "great power of prayer". Evnetually, in 1588, he sailed with others to Manila.
A great contemplative, Peter meditated on the mysteries of the rosary while serving as porter. He even gave an impromptu sermon on the rosary to the governor! Unfortunately, Peter contracted a fever and died in 1591.
Matthew of Peace
—d.1597. Jilting his bride at the altar, Br. Matthew entered the Dominican Order in Guatemala City. He worked tirelessly for the poor "Indians" of the area, establishing a hospital for them. One miraculous event occured as Br. Matthew was carrying an Indian patient to the hospital. He was obliged to put the patient down in order to speak to some of the hospital's benefactors. When they finished and turned to the patient, they found instead a large crucifix. Like Juan Macias, Br. Matthew would teach catechism. It helped that he knew three native dalects. Many thought him wise and sought his advice.
Paul of St. Mary
—d.1597. The image to the right is probably the only image anywhere of Br. Paul of St. Mary (of Seville, Spain). The work is also the work of Fr. Robert Staes, OP. Paul wasn't a very promising vocation. He was clumsy and didn't catch on too quickly. In fact, at the end of his novitiate, it wasn't at all clear that Paul was going to be approved to stay in the community. But God intervened and because of a confusion in orders, Paul was not asked to return the holy habit. He was put in the infirmary to work with the sick. Although his clumsiness worried some, his prayers made up for any mistakes. Indeed, his prayers were known to heal the sick. So much so, people would come to the priory asking for him. He's depicted with food, because he was also given charge of giving food to the poor for the priory. He was known to perform miracles in just the same way as the Lord, multipling little bits of food into whole meals. That wasn't all, Brother Paul was a bi-locator, too! He once bi-located to Sicily to rescue someone in danger of being run over. The rescued person visited Seville to see if he could find Paul, astounding the prior who knew Paul had never been out of Seville. With all these wonders, it's surprising that Paul was never canonized. He died in Seville on December 30th, 1597.
Michael of Zamora
—16th Cent. Like many of the other brothers mentioned here, Brother Michael began life as a son of a wealthy family. Michael went to the new world to make his fortune, and succeeded in the West Indies. When he returned home, he was disgusted by his family's preoccupation with his new found wealth, and decided to give his fortune to the poor and return to the West Indies. He was married, but his wife died, leaving Michael to care for their only son. When the son was old enough, Michael entered the Dominican Order in Mexico. He was called upon to use his training in architecture to supervise the building of religious houses. The aqueduct of Oaxaca, Mexico (depecited above) was his project.
Brother Michael's son also became a Dominican cooperator brother. It is said he had a talent for languages, and was very useful to the missions.
Diego de Santa Maria
—Br. Diego de Santa Maria, among other Dominicans, played an important role in Filipino history. Br. Diego was the porter for the Dominican community in Manila. His ministry consisted of feeding and clothing the poor orphans of the city. But he was first and foremost a teacher. Besides the faith, Br. Diego taught the children writing and mathematics. With the help of Juan Jeronimo Guerrero, another teacher (I don't think he was a Dominican), Br. Diego established the College of Saint John Lateran in the 1630s. Eventually, the school was merged with another important Dominican school. Two important students came out of Br. Diego's school: Emilio Aquinaldo the "liberator" and Apolinario Mabini, who played a major role in the Philippine Revolution.**
--1647-1735. Brother Franciscus was born in Ghent. When he grew up, he joined the Dominicans as a cooperator brother and began, like Fra Ristoro and Fra Sisto, and Brother Michael of Zamora, to work in architecture. Franciscus was called upon to restore parts of the old bridge of Maastricht (depicted above to the right), and a Dominican monastery. He designed a tower for a Dominican church, but it was never built. In 1685, Franciscus was called to work in Paris in the court of Louis XIV. He was to restore Pont Royal and Pont Neuf. He died in Paris in 1735.
--1707-1781. Brother Jean-Esprit was born in Bedarrides, Vaucluse France. His background is unclear, but eventually, he joined the Dominicans as a cooperator brother and set out building some of the finest church organs in southern France. He built organs for St. Pierre, Avignon; St. Trophime, Arles; the cathedrals of: Aix-en-Provence, Nimes, and Albi. His masterpiece is the organ found in the Basilica of St. Maximin-en Var (depicted above). Unlike others of its kind, this organ survived the French revolution. Brother Jean-Esprit taught others his craft, including his nephews. He was buried on March 16, 1781.
—restorer of the Church of the Minerva in Rome in 1848. Died during the revolution.
Br. Herman Johnson
--A friar of the Southern Province of St. Martin de Porres, Br. Herman is the first cooperator brother elected to serve as a superior of a local community. He was elected prior of St. Anthony of Padua Priory. Despite constitutional difficulties, the election was approved by the procurator general of the Order and by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
*See the Calendar of Brother Feast Days for more cooperator brother information.