Who is St. Dominic?

St. Dominic Guzman is the founder of the Dominicans, the Order of Preachers.

St. Dominic Guzman was born in 1170 in Spain in the province of Castille. His father Felix was a nobleman, one of these courageous warriors who slowly but surely conquered Spain back from the Moors. His mother was a saint, Blessed Joan of Aza, whose feast day is celebrated on August 8th.

During his theological studies, in his great desire for wisdom, Dominic used to pass whole nights poring over his books. When a famine struck the country, however, he sold them all in order to assist the poor, saying: “I cannot study on dead skins while men around me are dying of hunger.

After having been ordained a priest he was made a canon of the cathedral at Osma where, recounts his biographer, “he wore out the floor of the monastery hardly ever leaving the cloister.” But again this contemplative life was not simply egoistic, for the same biographer relates: “He thought that he would never be a true member of Christ until he had spent himself in the work of the conversion of souls.

Providence arranged an occasion for the putting into practice of this apostolic zeal when Dominic accompanied his bishop on a trip through southern France, infested at the time by the heresies of the Cathars, who denied the Incarnation and blasphemed the Church. For ten long years St. Dominic remained there, fighting against the heresy by his preaching and, later on, by the foundation of an Order of contemplative nuns (composed of heretics he had converted) and a group of clerics who joined him in preaching.

On December 22, 1216 he went to Rome and obtained from Pope Honorius III the approbation of an “Order of Preachers” whose task would be to help bishops and priests everywhere in their preaching of the Word of God. Only 5 years later, on August 6, 1221, St. Dominic died in Bologna, Italy, leaving behind him already several hundred friars to continue this work of preaching and teaching, a ministry they have persisted in up to present day.