Saint of the Day – 8 August – St Dominic de Guzman (1170-1221) – Confessor, Founder of the Dominican Order of Preachers – Priest, Founder, Teacher, Preacher, Mystic, Miracle-Worker, Apostle of the Holy Rosary (1170 at Calaruega, Burgos, Old Castile – noon 6 August 1221 at Bologna, Italy). He was Canonised on 13 July 1234 by Pope Gregory IX at Rieti, Italy who declared, after signing the Bull of Canonisation on 13 July, 1234, Pope Gregory IX declared that he no more doubted the saintliness of Saint Dominic than he did that of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. Patronages: astronomers, astronomy, falsely accused, scientists, Dominican Republic, Batanes-Babuyanes, Philippines, prelature of, Bayombong, Philippines, diocese of, Santo Domingo, Santo Domingo Indian Pueblo, Valletta, Malta. Attributes – chaplet, Dominican carrying a rosary and a tall cross, Dominican holding a lily, Dominican with dog and globe, Dominican with fire, Dominican with star shining above his head, dog with a torch in its mouth, rosary, star.
Dominic de Guzman was born in Calaruega, Spain, son to noble parents Felix Guzman and Blessed Joan of Aza. While only a boy, he demonstrated great piety, spending his days in contemplation and prayer, under the influence of his mother’s great love of the Lord. At Dominic’s baptism, Blessed Joan saw a star shining from his chest, which became another of his symbols in art, and led to his patronage of astronomy.
Educated by his uncle, a Priest, Dominic soon travelled to Palencia, where he attended University and was eventually Ordained to the Priesthood. While at University, he demonstrated strict penances and rigorous study but his teachers and classmates soon also noted the tenderest of hearts and the gentlest of spirits. Dominic demonstrated great care for those in need, practising love and charity without judgement.
Following his Ordination, Dominic was appointed the Prior Superior of his Augustinian Order and strictly observed the Benedictine rule prescribed. Selected as Canon to the Bishop of Osma, he accompanied Bishop Diego de Avezedo to Languedoc to join with the Cistercian Order in their fight against heresy. It was here that the idea of founding an Order of Preachers, committed to eradicating heresy, first occurred to Dominic.
In 1215, Dominic established himself, with six followers, in a house given by Peter Seila, a rich resident of Toulouse. Dominic saw the need for a new type of organisation to address the spiritual needs of the growing cities of the era, one that would combine dedication and systematic education, with more organisational flexibility than either monastic orders or the secular clergy. He subjected himself and his companions to the monastic rules of prayer and penance; and meanwhile bishop Foulques gave them written authority to preach throughout the territory of Toulouse. In the same year, the year of the Fourth Lateran Council, Dominic and Foulques went to Rome to secure the approval of the Pope, Innocent III. Dominic returned to Rome a year later and was finally granted written authority in December 1216 and January 1217 by the new pope, Honorius III for an order to be named “The Order of Preachers” (“Ordo Praedicatorum”, or “O.P.,” popularly known as the Dominican Order).
It was not long thereafter that Dominic founded an institute for women at and attached several preaching friars to it. During a subsequent crusade against the Albigensian heresy, Dominic followed the papal armies and preached to all who would listen. He had little success, however and returned home to a castle bequeathed to him, where he founded an order dedicated to the conversion of the Albigensians. The order was canonically approved by the bishop of Toulouse the following year and two years later received Pope Honorius III’s approval. The Order of Preachers, the Dominicans, was founded.
Saint Dominic spent the remaining years of his life organising his new order, traveling throughout Europe preaching and attracting new members and establishing new houses. The new order, under his direction, was astoundingly successful in conversion, based upon contemplative and intellectual approaches, coupled with the contemporary and popular needs of the people. His ideal, and that of his Order, was to link organically a life with God, study and prayer in all forms, with a ministry of salvation to people by the word of God. His ideal: contemplata tradere: “to pass on the fruits of contemplation” or “to speak only of God or with God.” (Read the Nine Ways of Prayer of St Dominic here: https://www.fisheaters.com/stdominic9ways.html)
There was a time that St Dominic became discouraged at the progress of his mission. To him, it seemed that no matter how much he worked, heresy remained. As he contemplated the future of his order, he received a vision from Our Blessed Mother, who showed him a wreath of roses, representing the Holy Rosary. Mary told him to say the Rosary daily, to teach it to all who would listen and eventually the faith would defeat heresies. The spread of the Rosary, is attributed to the preaching of Saint Dominic. The Rosary has for centuries been at the heart of the Dominican Order. Pope Pius XI stated, “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.” For centuries, Dominicans have been instrumental in spreading the rosary and emphasizing the Catholic belief in the power of the rosary. Saint Dominic is spread devotion to the Rosary, and used it to strengthen his own spiritual life.
Saint Dominic is also remembered for miracles (raising four people from the dead) and miraculous visions. On one occasion, he received a vision of a poor beggar, who he sought out the following day. Finding the beggar, Dominic embraced him and said, “You are my companion and must walk with me. If we hold together, no earthly power can withstand us.” The beggar turned out to be Saint Francis of Assisi and the two holy men became the closest of friends.
St Dominic died at the age of fifty-one, “exhausted with the austerities and labours of his career”. He had reached the convent of St Nicholas at Bologna, Italy, “weary and sick with a fever”. He “made the monks lay him on some sacking stretched upon the ground” and that “the brief time that remained to him was spent in exhorting his followers to have charity, to guard their humility, and to make their treasure out of poverty”. He died at noon on 6 August 1221. His body was moved to a simple sarcophagus in 1233. Under the authority of Pope Gregory IX, Dominic was canonised in 1234. In 1267 Dominic’s remains were moved to the shrine, made by Nicola Pisano and his workshop. The feast of Saint Dominic is celebrated with great pomp and devotion in Malta, in the old city of Birgu and the capital city Valletta. The Dominican order has very strong links with Malta and Pope St. Pius V, a Dominican friar himself, aided the Knights of St. John to build the city of Valletta.