Today is the Feast Day of Holy Father Saint Dominic. Dominic is the patron saint of astronomy, astronomers, and the falsely accused. Born in Spain in 1170, Dominic was named after Saint Dominic if Silos, the patron saint of hopeful mothers. As the legend goes when Dominic’s mother (who was barren) went to visit the church in Silos she had a vision of a dog leaping from her womb carrying a torch in it’s mouth setting the world on fire. Shortly thereafter she became pregnant with Dominic.
While attending school for theology in Spain, the country experienced a terrible famine. Dominic gave away his money and sold his clothes, furniture, and even precious manuscripts to feed the hungry. To his classmates who were astonished by this he said “Would you have me study off these dead skins, when men are dying of hunger?”
Sometime around 1194 Dominic joined the Order of Canons Regular, a monastic order that followed the very strict rule of Saint Benedict. He stayed with them for a time, until in 1215 he and six of his followers established themselves in a house in a wealthy neighborhood in Toulouse. There they would develop their own monastic rule of prayer and penance.
During that same year Dominic traveled to Rome for the Fourth Lateran Council, and to meet with Pope Innocent III seeking his approval to establish his new order. While in Rome he also met Saint Francis, founder of the Franciscan Order.
Over the next two years Dominic would travel back to Rome until finally he was granted permission in writing by Pope Honorius III to found the Ordo Praedicatorum (Order of Preachers, or O.P.) in 1217.
The spread of the Rosary was greatly influenced by Dominic who had a very strong Marian devotion. Pope Pius XI said “The Rosary of Mary is the principle and foundation on which the very Order of Saint Dominic rests for making perfect the life of its members and obtaining the salvation of others.”
*As a side not you may have noticed I referred to Saint Dominic as “Holy Father” at the beginning of this post and you may be thinking “He was never Pope” and no, he wasn’t. Members of both the Franciscan and Dominican communities refer to both Saints as Holy Father. In fact as a tradition going back many years each order invites a member of the other Order to come to their Mass on the Feast of their founder and preach the homily. So a Franciscan preaches about Dominic and a Dominican will preach about Francis. Pretty neat huh?
Pax et Bonum,