Monday, August 08, 2005

St. Dominic

St. Dominic was born in Calaruega, Spain in 1170 to Felix Guzman and Joanna of Aza. He studied at the University at Palencia and was probably ordained there while pursuing his studies. When Dominic received the habit of the Regular Canons at Osma at the age of 24, his parents were deceased.

While in France he was greatly saddened when he witnessed the ravages of the Albigensian heresy. Henceforth he devoted his life to the conversion of heretics and the defense of the faith. He was a man of conspicuous and eminent talent, and probably one of the greatest orators that ever lived.

The Albigenses were amazed and angered by his learned discourses. A public thesis written by Dominic was tossed into a fire, along with a disclamatory document written by the heretics. Dominic's thesis, through divine intercession miraculously escaped three times from the flames completely unscathed while the other was consumed.

This miracle converted many to the side of this Saint, and is memorialized in sculpture at his tomb in Bologna. In 1208, while kneeling in the chapel of Notre Dame at Prouille, the Blessed Lady appeared before him holding a Rosary in her hand. She instructed him how to say it and bade him preach it as an antidote to heresy and sin.

His conversion of over 100,000 heretics and sinners testify to the power of this prayer and it was adopted by all Christendom. At 46 he established a convent of nuns at Prouille for the education of Catholic children which later became the Order of Dominican nuns.

He convoked the first general council of the Order at Bologna in 1220. He died there the following year on August 6, 1221, at 51 years of age, after being forced by illness to return from a preaching tour in Hungary. (Source: St. Dominic Catholic Church)

The Martyrology gives the following: "At Bologna (upper Italy) the holy confessor Dominic, the saintly and learned founder of the Order of Preachers. He preserved his virginity inviolate and gained for himself the grace of raising three dead persons to life. By his word he crushed heresy in the bud and led many souls to piety and to religious life."

The two contemporaries, Dominic and Francis, effected a tremendous spiritual rejuvenation through their own spiritual personalities and through their religious foundations. Of the two, Dominic was the realist who surpassed the other intellectually and in organizational talent. His spirit of moderation, clarity of thought, and burning zeal for souls have become the heritage of the Dominican Order.

Legend has contributed the following rare anecdote as preserved in the Breviary: "During pregnancy, Dominic's mother dreamed she was carrying in her womb a little dog that held a burning torch between its teeth; and when she had given birth, it set the whole world on fire. By this dream it was made manifest beforehand how Dominic would inflame the nations to the practice of Christian virtue through the brightness of his holy example and the fiery ardor of his preaching." He died at Bologna upon hearing the liturgy's prayer for the dying: "Come, ye saints of God, hasten hither, ye angels!" (Source: Catholic Culture)


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