St. Dominic and His Order

Clothed in the habit of this great Patriarch, admitted into his family, nourished at the rich table of his Order, we love him with our whole heart. – Perpetual Rosary Custom Book

As daughters of Saint Dominic, we cherish our Blessed Father so much the more tenderly as we know him to have been here below, the well beloved of the Blessed Virgin. It is to this gentle Father that we owe this broad and beautiful Dominican life, the breath of our souls; this white raiment sanctified by so many Saints; this sacred Rosary which renders us powerful to snatch souls from the demon.  – Perpetual Rosary Custom Book

Prepared by Divine Providence

Saint Dominic Guzman was born in Caleruega, Spain around the year 1170. At age seven he was sent to study with his priest-uncle. At fourteen he entered the University of Palencia where he studied liberal arts and the sacred sciences. Although he spent much of his time in prayer and study, he did not neglect the poor. Once he even sold his precious hand-copied books to help them. Friends wondered how he could part with his books. He replied that he did not think it possible to study from dead skins while living skins were dying from hunger.

After his University training, Dominic was ordained a priest and joined the cathedral chapter at Osma (Canons following the Rule of St. Augustine). His favorite source of study was the Sacred Scriptures. He never ceased to plunge into the Word of God to study it, pray it and preach it. In all things and at all times he strove to imitate Christ Jesus.

The Beginnings of the Order of Preachers

Photo of Dominican Nuns in front of a statue of St. DominicIn 1203 Dominic accompanied his Bishop through France. They were appalled at the suffering endured by the people as the result of the Albigensian heresy. Both Bishop Diego and Dominic resolved to return to France to combat this evil. In 1206 the Pope commissioned them to preach the Truth of the Gospel. They traveled barefoot, begging for their daily bread from door to door. Among the first reclaimed for the Church were nine women. Rejected by their families, they turned to Dominic for help. He gathered them together at Prouille. It became the first Monastery of cloistered Dominican Nuns. Soon there were also many young men seeking to follow Dominic.

In 1216, he journeyed to Rome to seek the approval of the Holy Father for the establishment of an Order whose main work would be preaching and whose motto would be Truth. Pope Honorius III granted the request. Heaven itself confirmed the preaching vocation of Dominic and his friars when Saint Peter and Saint Paul appeared to him. They handed him a pilgrim staff and a book bidding him go and preach.

An Enduring Legacy: Contemplative Zeal for Souls

Image of Our Lady, Queen of the Dominican Order

To follow Christ in the spirit of Saint Dominic is to enter into the mystery of Christ as Savior, showing mercy to the whole world. Like Mary, and after the example of their holy Father, Dominic, Dominicans are to be at the feet of Jesus, to listen to the word and to cherish it in the silence of their hearts. For the Friars, Sisters, and Laity, this silent contemplation overflows in works of the apostolate as they “give to others the fruits of contemplation.” The silent contemplation of the Nuns bears fruit as their lives become more conformed to Christ, who gave Himself completely for the salvation of souls.

Dominic died in 1221, just five years after the beginning of his Order, and was canonized in 1234. Today, these sons and daughters of Saint Dominic work in all parts of the world. Priests, Brothers, Nuns, Sisters and laity strive to bring the Truth to the world.