Blessed Jordan of Saxony: Charisma Score of 25

Blessed Jordan of Saxony was a university friend of St. Dominic, the founder of the Dominican friars (real name: the Order of Preachers). He was already famous for scholarship and charisma while he was still at the University of Paris. He didn’t actually join the Dominicans until St. Dominic had left town and his second Dominican mentor had passed away. But when St. Dominic died unexpectedly in Bologna and then Jordan showed up in town, the local Dominicans found themselves leaning on him and choosing him as their new leader. Two years after becoming a friar, he was voted leader of the whole Order.

But that’s not why I say he had a charisma score of 25.

Nope, he’s the kind of guy who would tool around Europe’s university towns, routinely persuading thousands of young men to give up their noble birth and worldly wealth to follow the evangelical counsels. He had an uncanny ability to know how people were thinking and feeling, and to be able to console them with just his presence, or a few words, or by laying on hands. He was also able to bring other people to feel compassion, or to teach them to understand why a novice was having trouble. And yet he was far from being anti-intellectual. He was that rare person who had both emotional and intellectual gifts, and it made him a great administrator. He was also able to be a deep friend to both men and women, without ever causing a hint of scandal. He loved and appreciated nature. He was also humble, and much more delighted by other people’s success than by his own. He made it his practice to rejoice whenever anything annoying happened.

He enjoyed singing, and loved to walk ahead of his companions singing a hymn and contemplating God. On some of his journeys across the lands of Europe, he managed to take wrong turnings during his contemplations, so that the friars had to go find him. This didn’t bother him. He said there was only one road worth troubling about — the road to heaven.

On one occasion, a local lord who hated friars was annoyed to find Friar Jordan and his company ensconced at table in the house when he came in. He didn’t go so far as to throw them out, but he ordered them to be served from a barrel of sour nasty wine down in the cellar. The servers complied, and the friars responded with delight and praise for the excellent vintage. The lord was sure the servants had disobeyed and stormed down to the cellar. He found that all the sour wine in the barrel had turned into a really beautiful wine, and was struck with repentance.

One of the things that happened after St. Dominic died was that the Dominicans of Bologna, and of convents in other places throughout Europe, began to be harassed by strange dreams, sinister visions, weird apparitions, and various more psychological attacks of the devil, like depression and despair. The friars were forced to have people take turns keeping watch and praying. To deal with this demonic harassment, Blessed Jordan first tried a hymn sung to the angels, but eventually settled on having the friars process every night after Compline while singing the “Salve Regina.” This did the trick, and Dominicans still do it today.

I could go on and on. Blessed Jordan of Saxony was an interesting guy.


1 Comment

Filed under Saint Stories

One response to “Blessed Jordan of Saxony: Charisma Score of 25

  1. Joy


    I just heard that JoEllyn Davidoff passed away suddenly this week. I’ve emailed you, but I thought I would post here in case you are behind in checking that.



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