, via Wikimedia Commons
She started life as a princess in a castle. Even after she married, she remained a dreamer. Today we celebrate the feast of her youngest son, the man who grew up to be Saint Dominic.

Blessed Joan of Aza was born around 1140 in the Old Castile region of Spain. She was known for both her beauty and her piety, and she made a fortunate match when she married into the faith-filled family of Felix de Guzman of Calaroga.

Joan had two grown sons a daughter and when she found herself praying for another child to fill her arms. While on retreat, Joan had a dream of a black and white dog carrying a torch in his mouth. When she shared this dream with her spiritual director, he suggested that this meant that the child she carried would grow to become the watchdog of the Church. Domini canes. She named this son Dominic.

We can guess that the de Guzman home must have been a holy one where a vocation to the priesthood was offered as a joyful option for a fruitful earthly life. Blessed Joan's first two sons became priests. Dominic went on to found the Order of Preachers, the first order within the Church to focus on study and spreading of the Word of God. Blessed Joan's second son, Mannes, already a priest, soon joined his youngest brother's order. Her daughter married and eventually gave two of her sons, Joan's grandsons, to their Uncle Dominic's newly founded order.

A mother's faith is no guarantee of her children's, and vice versa. All a mother can do is sow the seeds with the tools God has given her. We don't know anything about Blessed Joan's parenting style, about how she cooked or cleaned, or about how she disciplined her children when they misbehaved at Mass. What we do see is the fruit of her labors: nearly eight hundred years later, she has countless spiritual grandchildren, gathered with her at the side of Christ and under the mantle of Our Lady. Today she remains for all of us as an example of the grace and power of a faith-filled motherhood.

Blessed Joan of Aza, pray for us!

Do you have special saints to guide you in your motherhood?  What are some ways that you are fostering the vocational spirit within your family?  


Copyright 2015 Erin McCole Cupp.
Image by Anonymous, Castilian [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons