Skip to Content

From the Pastor 08/13/17

For the next few weeks I am going to give some presentations on our Holy Father St. Dominic. I hope these Pastor’s columns will help you to understand the great Saint who is the founder of the Order of Friars Preachers, and also enjoy some art as well.

The Life of St. Dominic

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings glad tidings, announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation, and saying to Zion, “Your God is King.” This selection from the 52nd chapter of Isaiah is a perfect description of the life of Our Holy Father St. Dominic, and is used as the First Lesson for the Mass of St. Dominic.

“Dominic was a Castilian priest, probably of aristocratic birth ― late medieval tradition connects him with the noble family of Guzman, which owned property at Caleruega, his birthplace. He had been educated in the schools of Palencia, and as a young man he became a canon in the Cathedral of Osma. At the time he joined it, the chapter of Osma had only recently been reconstituted as a community of canons regularly living according to Rule of St. Augustine. The canons regular were a hybrid order of clerical monks. They had come into existence during the eleventh century in response to reform, which exhorted the secular clergy to live in communities on the model of the early apostolic Church.” Lawrence, The Friars, p. 66.

What to do with so many people ignorant of Christian truth? This must have been the burning question on Dominic’s mind as he traveled through southern France with his own bishop, Diego de Azvedo, on a diplomatic visit to Denmark, in 1203. There in southern France he came in contact with Albigensian or Manichaean heretics, who attributed the creation of the world to an evil God, thus all created things were evil. Dominic was deeply troubled by the people’s ignorance of the gospel, which made them so vulnerable to this revival of the ancient heresy of Gnosticism (secret knowledge given only to the privileged enlightened).

Finally after his second visit to Denmark, Dominic could contain himself no longer. With his bishop he traveled to Rome and begged Pope Innocent III to send him on a mis- sion of preaching. Thus began the itinerant preaching life of Our Holy Father Dominic.

After nine grueling years of preaching on his own in Southern France, in 1215 he accompanied the Bishop of Toulouse, France to Rome, and in 1216 he obtained permission to found an Order of Preachers dedicated exclusively to “preaching and the salvation of souls.” St. Dominic began his community in Toulouse, France with some sixteen brothers whom he had gathered during the course of his preaching. Almost immediately he dispersed them to spread the mission and then himself traveled throughout Spain and northern Italy to found new priories.

In 1220 the first General Chapter of the Order was held at which Dominic sought, but was not permitted by his friars, to resign as Master of the Order. At a second chapter in 1221 the Constitutions of the Order took final form under his guidance. Dominic hoped then to go on the missions to Eastern Europe, which had always been his desire, but he died, completely spent, in Bologna, Italy, August 6, 1221. He was canonized in 1234 by Gregory IX, who as cardinal had aided both St. Dominic and St. Francis in obtaining papal approval of their respective Orders.

A blessed week to all,

Rev. André-Joseph LaCasse, O.P. Pastor