Before the birth of her son St. Dominic of Guzman, Joanna of Aza (later beatified herself) had a dream that she gave birth to a dog with a torch in its mouth. This dog ran over the whole world and set it on fire. This dream, perhaps legendary, was an apt description of her son's destiny, since he and his "hounds of the Lord" ("Domini-canes") would set the world ablaze with the Divine Charity of Christ. Indeed, among the founders of religious orders, no man stands as tall as Dominic for preaching against heresy and creating an order in just 5 years that utterly transformed the Church and world.
Born in Spain in 1170, Dominic was of noble lineage, and so he acquired an excellent education at a monastery and schools in Palencia; even in youth, he was generous, as he sold his books to give to the starving during a period of famine. Ordained a priest at 24, he became a canon of the Cathedral of Osma and spent a decade in obscurity, growing in holiness. After two missions to Denmark with the Bishop of Osma (to acquire a princess for the prince of the realm), Dominic was overcome by the horrors of the Albigensian heresy, a form of Gnosticism and neo-Manichaeism. At first only able to preach largely on his own, he did manage to establish some female contemplative convents, which would later prove the basis of his preaching's success. After serving as a chaplain (and dispenser of mercy and mitigator of abuses) during a crusade against the Albigensians, Dominic did found a small diocesan congregation, though it was far from what he hoped. All the while, his reputation of sanctity and miracle-working grew, and he had to refuse three times offers of episcopal consecration. Finally, in 1216, he founded the male branch of the Order of Preachers with papal approbation, and thereafter the order flourished, receiving great privileges from the Holy See to preach in all corners of Christendom—from Portugal to Poland. He went about establishing orders and converting heretics, especially by means of the Holy Rosary, a devotion he received directly from Our Lady in his earlier years. Finally, he died at age 50 in 1221.
In this short but substantive biography, discover the life of a truly apostolic confessor of the Faith who converted hundreds of thousands and a miracle-worker who raised the dead, multiplied bread and wine, and who received visions of Our Lady and Lord. Let St. Dominic light a fire in your heart, and follow him to preach the Word of God throughout the earth.
- Sr. Mary Jean Dorcy, OP
- TAN Books
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