St. Dominic\’s Orange Tree

According to legend, Saint Dominic planted an orange tree when he was in Rome, at the Dominican headquarters at Santa Sabina. Maybe he remembered such trees from his childhood in Spain or maybe he liked oranges. We\’re not sure! There are many descendants of the original tree at Dominican priories and monasteries and motherhouses, and we have such a tree at our monastery. The seed for this tree came to us from the Houston Dominican sisters who have several of \”St. Dominic\’s orange trees\” at their motherhouse. It was grown in a pot until it was strong enough to be transplanted into the ground, and now it is as you see it here!

The tree was first cared for lovingly by our Sr. Mary Agnes of happy memory, who even wrote a poem about the tree. Just to share a portion of it:

I watched a tree grow.
Few people live slow enough to watch a tree grow…
I looked closely now and then
At the bark and lacy boughs 
And saw my tree–like the just man
Grow tall and strong and free
Praising the Lord–O Happy Tree!
I like my tree
Cuz I watched it grow
And I lived slow enough 
And close enough to know. 
(copyright Monastery of the Infant Jesus)
The tree suffered a bit this year during an especially cold winter, but we pray it will live and continue to bear fruit. It is a reminder of St. Dominic, and all the holy men and women who followed in his footsteps. We are all in a sense the trees St. Dominic planted, giving to others the fruits–hopefully sweet and flavorful!–of our contemplation.

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