SAINT DOMINIC DE GUZMAN (1170-1221), priest and founder – Patron saint of astronomers, scientists and the Dominican Republic
Today, the Church honors Saint Dominic de Guzman, who is most known as the founder of the Order of Friars Preachers (Dominicans), an Order that focuses on preaching and education. Today, the Order runs several colleges and universities around the world.
Born of wealthy Spanish nobility in 1170 in Caleruega, Spain, Dominic entered the University of Palencia in 1184, where he studied philosophy and theology and was ordained to the priesthood and became renowned for his peaching abilities. He was initially assigned as canon to the Cathedral of Osma, where he followed the Rule of St. Augustine.
In 1205, on a journey through France with his bishop, he was exposed to the heresy of Albigensianism, which believed in a good spirit who created the spiritual, and in an evil spirit who created the material world, including the human body, which is therefore under his control. The heresy also taught that the good spirit created the soul but the evil one imprisoned it in the body, which is evil from its source.
Father Dominic sensed the need for the Church to combat this heresy, and was commissioned to be part of the preaching crusade against it. He defended and preached the Truth of the Incarnation, the salvation of humankind through the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, as well as a deeper understanding of the Sacraments.
Originally discouraged at the progress of his mission, he besought the aid of our Blessed Mother and, as tradition tells us, he received a vision of Our Lady telling him to pray the Rosary daily, teaching the mysteries of each decade to all who would listen, and eventually the true faith would win over those who were deceived through the teaching of the heresy. From that time forward, the Rosary has been embraced as a daily prayer which helps lead one to live a life of personal sanctity, thereby guiding one to reject sin.
The influence of Father Dominic’s preaching and the eminent holiness of his life had drawn around him a little band of devoted disciples eager to follow wherever he might lead. Father Dominic had, for some time, desired to found a new religious community, and the time now seemed opportune to realize his dream. In 1215, with the approval of his bishop, he founded the Order of Friars Preachers, or more popularly known as the Dominican Order, along with an Order of religious sisters who were dedicated to caring for young girls.
Like the Franciscans, the Dominicans went directly to the people to spread the Word of God, and were supported solely by donations. Father Dominic now made his headquarters in Rome, although he traveled extensively in the interests of his growing brotherhood of monks and nuns.
He spent the last years of his life organizing the Order, traveling all over Italy, Spain and France – preaching and attracting new members and establishing new houses. The new Order was phenomenally successful in its work of conversion through prayer and the catechesis [teaching] of God’s Truth. He convoked the first General Council of the Order at Bologna, Italy in 1220, and died there the following year on August 6, 1221, after succumbing to a fatal illness.
On his deathbed he gave his brother friars his last will and testament: “Have charity, guard humility, hold fast to voluntary poverty.” He promised them that he would continue to guide them in spirit – a promise which he has kept. In its first 100 years, the Dominican Order grew to 30,000 members across Europe.
Dominic was canonized a saint in the year 1234 by Pope Gregory IX. His remains are interred in the Basilica of San Domenico in Bologna, Italy.
We commemorate his feastday on August 8.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, americancatholic.org, catholicculture.org and newadvent.org)
(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Proper for Saint Dominic)
“Lord, let the holiness and teaching of Saint Dominic come to the aid of Your Church. May he help us now with his prayers as he once inspired people by his preaching.
“We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”