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5 Things you didn’t know about St. Dominic, founder of the Order of Preachers


Rennet Stowe | CC BY 2.0

Theresa Civantos Barber - published on 08/16/18

St. Dominic's holy example of prayer, charity, and preaching is a needed witness today.

The tradition of Catholic education is filled with Dominican teachers, schools, and universities—but the saint who founded their order is probably not well-known by all those who have been touched by the lives of his followers.

Watch this video to learn about the extraordinary man who “set the world on fire” through his preaching, and the Order of Preachers he founded.

Before he was even born, Dominic de Guzmán seemed set apart for a special mission. His mother, Jane of Aza, dreamed that a dog leaped from her womb carrying a torch in its mouth and “set the whole earth on fire.”

In time, the order Dominic founded became known as the Dominicans. The Latin form of this name, Dominicanus, although of course derived from Dominic’s name (Domingo in Spanish), can also be read as a play on the words “Domini canis” or “dogs of the Lord.” Dominic is often shown, then, accompanied by a dog holding a torch in its mouth.

Born in Calaruega, Spain, in 1170, Dominic studied theology and the arts, eventually becoming an Augustinian. He was known for his charity to the poor and dedicated himself to converting members of a heretical sect in southern France, the Albigensians. In 1215, he established a house in Toulouse with six other men, and he began to organize his followers to be dedicated to education and preaching. In 1217, the pope granted him authority for an order he called the Order of Preachers (Ordo Praedicatorum, abbreviated O.P.), which we now popularly call the Dominican Order. He spent the rest of his life traveling and working to establish this new brotherhood, devoting particular attention to popularizing devotion to the Rosary.

Dominic saw clearly the need for generous charity, good education, and dedicated prayer in converting hearts and combating heresy. His example is one the Church and its members, especially those who preach and teach, can greatly benefit from today. St. Dominic, pray for us!

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