St. Dominic de Guzman
Dominic de Guzman
St. Dominic was born on 1170 in Calcruega (Burgos ) in the Old Spanish Castle. He was said to be the third son of a pious family. His parents were Juana de Aza and Felix de Guzman. His father, Felix, was a knight to whom a small territory was entrusted. Dominic’s parents imbued him with deep experience of faith. After his studies with his uncle who was a priest, he pursued his studies at the University of Palencia (at the age of 14). While pursuing his education in the field of science, he heard God’s call for him to save his people and become a priest. In 1196, he became a canon regular at the Cathedral of Osma (at the age of 24). In his first few years as a studying priest, he often prayed and helped in pastorial activities. In 1201 he became the subprior of the Chapter of Canons.
1203 (at the age of 33) , Diego de Acebes ordered him to go on a diplomatic
mission to Northern Europe. As he
traveled through Southern France (in a place called Languedoc), he saw the
terrible situation of the Catholic Church devastated by the Albigensian
heresy. (The Albigensians believed that adultery, fornication, and suicide
were praiseworthy; there is no heaven, no hell, no moral code).
Dominic, moved by compassion, was convinced that someone should preach
the truth to those benighted people.
He talked to his bishop about giving mission among them.
In 1205, the second diplomatic journey was over.
Dominic requested the Pope to send him to preach among the Tartars.
The pope did not agree but instead, sent him to a more needed mission.
This was to assist the Cistercian Abbots in preaching the true Catholic
faith to the Albigensians. Dominic
was like an apostle. He traveled
on foot, in poverty and humility, he begged bread from door to door and spread
the gospel. Diego and Dominic
began their work around Prouille (Southern France).
Here, Diego established a community for women converted from heresy.
In a few months, the bishop died and the Cistercians went home in
dismay, without much result. Dominic
had a handful of followers. He
still continued to peacefully preach faith.
His preaching proved efficient since he accompanied his words with his
examples of true evangelical poverty and constant prayers.
Dominic wanted to bring everybody the truth of faith because the truth
would set them free and save their souls.
He also wanted his preachers and him to know their faith thoroughly and
be able to expound it completely.
1215, Peter Selhan (a rich bugher of Toulouse) gave Dominic a house and
together with a man named Thomas, bound himself to Dominic by religious
profession. That was the
institutional beginning of the Order of Preachers.
The bishop of Toulouse (Fulk), welcomed the group and gave them the
official status as preachers. Dominic,
however, was not satisfied. He
asked the Pope for his blessing to the community and to approve it as the
Order of Preachers for the whole church.
In 1216, Pope Honorius III granted his request.
spent the five last years of his life preaching and organizing the order.
He attracted a lot of saintly and talented men that his death didn’t
affect much the carrying out of his ideals.
In the first hundred years of its existence, the Order drew nearly
30,000 members from all the countries of Europe and began its way to other
Dominic died in Bologna on August 6th, 1221. He lived long enough to see his Order established so firmly that no amount of trouble could shake it. While dying, he said to his weeping brothers that he would be of more service than he was on earth. Dominic was buried in extreme simplicity. Just as he wished, he was buried on a modest grave. He remained there until Pope Gregory IX, a friend of his, gave rise to the translation of relics. In 1233, the translation took place. It was at a time of general assembly of the whole order. Jordan, Dominic’s successor, presided over the ceremony and was filled with emotions after the relics were exposed after 12 years of burial. Testimonials in writing of the sanctity of St. Dominic were given by those who knew him best. The evidence was preserved by Pope Gregory IX. In 1234, Dominic was proclaimed saint of God and entitled to the highest honors of the church.
“He was a man of gentle sympathies, drawn to study and prayer and no doubt committed to serving out his life within the small circle of pastoral duty and deepening holiness proper to a cathedral canon.”
“Dominic, by nature a shy and sensitive man, offered his life to God, who made of it a fiery crucible in which the rage and ferment of an entire age might come to new and brilliant synthesis.”
contemporary description of him:
“Straight way he began to appear among his brother canons as a bright ray of sunshine, in humbleness of heart the least, in holiness the first, shedding around him the fragrance of quickening life, like the scent of pinewoods in the heat of a summers day. And advancing from strength to strength as does the wide-growing olive and the slender, lofty cypress, day and night he frequented the church, ceaselessly devoted to prayer, scarcely venturing beyond the cloister walls, the more to find leisure for his lone thoughts with God”