Founder of “The Order of Preachers.”
St. Dominic (Domingo de Guzmán) was born in Caleruega, Spain, in 1170. As a student, he sold his books to feed the poor in a famine, and offered himself in ransom for a slave.
At the age of twenty-five he became superior of the Canons Regular of Osma, and accompanied his Bishop to France. There his heart was well-nigh broken by the ravages of the Albigenian heresy, and his life was henceforth devoted to the conversion of heretics and the defence of the Faith. For this end he established his threefold religious Order.
The convent for nuns was founded first, to rescue young girls from heresy and crime. Then a company of apostolic men gathered around him, and became the Order of Friar Preachers. Lastly came the Tertiaries, persons of both sexes living in the world.
God blessed the new Order, and France, Italy, Spain, and England welcomed the Preaching Friars. Our Lady took them under her special protection, and whispered to St. Dominic as he preached. It was in 1208, while St. Dominic knelt in the little chapel of Notre Dame de la Prouille, and implored the great Mother of God to save the Church, that Our Lady appeared to him, gave him the Rosary, and bade him go forth and preach. Beads in hand, he revived the courage of the Catholic troops, led them to victory against overwhelming numbers, and finally crushed the heresy.
His nights were spent in prayer; and, though pure as a virgin, thrice before morning broke he scourged himself to blood. His words rescued countless souls, and three times raised the dead to life.
Although the Rosary had been known in some form before this time and later was particularly set in place by Bl. Alan de la Roche, this revelation of the origin of the Rosary to St. Dominic was affirmed by Pope Leo XIII, and the tradition that Mary first revealed the Rosary to St. Dominic is supported by 13 Popes. St. Dominic now found great success in this new devotion and brought about the conversion of the Albigensians. Our Blessed Lady made known to St. Dominic, a kind of preaching then unknown; which she said would be one of the most powerful weapons against future errors and in future difficulties.
At length, on the 6th of August, 1221, at the age of fifty-one, he gave up his soul to God.
Dominic’s body was placed in a humble sarcophagus in 1223. It was then moved to a shrine in 1267.
Pope Gregory IX canonized St. Dominic on July 13, 1234, and his feast day is August 8.
Saint Dominic is the patron saint of astronomers, the Dominican Republic, and the innocent who are falsely accused of crimes. He is commonly depicted in icons with a dog, or lilies, holding a book. His hair always appears cut with a tonsure.