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St. Dominic, c.1170-1221

dominic.jpg (4758 bytes)St. Dominic, the founder of the Order of Friars Preacher (1216), was born at Calaruega in Old Castile, and studied at Palencia. Here he acquired such a name for his piety and learning that in 1193 the Bishop of Osma made him a canon, and relied mainly on his aid in reforming the whole chapter according to the Augustinian rule. The young Dominic led a life of rigorous asceticism, and devoted himself to missionary labors among Muslims and heretics. In 1204 he accompanied his bishop on a political mission, and traveled extensively among the Albigensians of southeastern France. He undertook his the work of their conversion, and traveled from place to place on foot, bearing St. Paul's epistles in his hands and preaching everywhere.

He continued his labors for ten years, and gathered to his side like-minded companions, for whom he founded the first house of his order at Toulouse. He also set up an asylum for women in danger from heretical influence, which later developed into an order of nuns. Unhappily, events occurred which have left a deep stain on his memory and that of his order, associating it closely with the Inquisition. Innocent III, incensed by the murder of hi legate, Peter of Castelnau, called the barons of northern France, led by Simon de Montfort, to a crusade against the heretics; and Dominic became a consenting party to these cruelties. In 1215 he went to the Fourth Lateran Council, and Innocent III promised approval of his new order on condition that it adopted an old rule. Dominic chose the rule of St. Augustine, and next year the authorization was given by Honorious III. Dominic became "Master of the Sacred Palace," an office which has continued hereditary in that order. In 1220 the Dominicans, in imitation of their Franciscan brethren, adopted a poverty so rigid that not even the order as a corporation could hold houses or lands, and thus they forced themselves to become mendicants or a begging order.

Dominic died at Bologna in 1221. He had lived to see his order occupying sixty houses and divided into eight provinces. It had spread to England, where from their dress thy were called Black Friars; to northern France, Italy, Spain and Austria. Dominic was canonized in 1234 by his friend, Gregory IX.

Resources
The Golden Legend: St. Dominic (Paul Halsall)
St. Dominic
(Catholic Encyclopedia)
St. Dominic

St. Dominic and His Life

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