8th August Dominic
The saint who believed in learning
If you enjoy reading the Bible and encouraging others to have faith in God, then Dominic is the patron saint for you. His passion for helping Christians to learn and proclaim their faith led him to found the Order of Preachers, or Black Friars, because of the black cape they wore over white habits. They are also known as the Dominicans.
Dominic was born in Castile in 1170, the youngest son of the warden of the town and nephew to the archpriest of Gumiel d’Izan. Becoming an Austin canon of Osma cathedral, Dominic spent seven years as a priest, devoted to prayer and penance. In 1201 he became sub-prior to his community.
In 1208 the Papal Legate was murdered. It sparked a crusade or ‘holy war’ against the Albigensian heretics. Dominic worked for reconciliation, refusing to join in the violence and massacres against them. Instead he used instruction and prayer to woo the heretics back, which led to him playing a leading role in founding Toulouse University. That became the foundation for his work in establishing the Friars Preachers at Toulouse in 1215, which occupied the last seven years of his life. (Three times he refused a bishopric, believing that this work was more important.)
Dominic tDominic’s ‘order’ provided communities of sacred learning, with monks devoted to study, teaching and preaching as well as the usual prayer. Dominic believed monks should do more than just commune with God; they should proclaim God’s love to others. Dominic was an excellent organiser, and soon his order spread rapidly all over Italy, Spain and France. It met an acute need in the medieval church, and in time the Black Friars became a pioneering missionary force in Asia and even (much later) the Americas.ravelled widely from 1216 until his death in 1220. His simple tomb was later embellished by Michelangelo, and his usual attributes in art are a lily and a black and white dog, which is a pun (Domini canis) on the name of Dominic. The dog holds a torch in its mouth as a herald of the truth.