Saint Dominic de Guzman

Founder: Order of Preachers and Patron of Astronomers

About 1170 Dominic de Guzman was born to Jane of Aza, renowned for her charity, and the nobleman named Felix de Guzman in Caleruega, Spain, about twenty miles from the Cathedral in Osma. In his early teens, Dominic went to the university in Palencia. It was a time of great famine; and, in to give alms to the poor, Dominic sold his precious books.

In 1190, he was appointed to the canonry at Osma, and was ordained five years later to the priesthood. In 1203 Dominic accompanied his bishop to the Marches of France, in the region of Languedoc. Dominic was struck by the spread of Albigensianism: a heresy that taught all material things to be evil.

In the summer of 1206, in the town of Prouille, on the feast of Saint Mary Magdalene, Saint Dominic experienced a vision of what appeared to be a globe of fire descending upon a shrine of Our Lady. This sign from Our Lady occurred twice more. From this, he understood that he was to establish a monastery of nuns at Prouille, which he carried out by the end of that same year.

Dominic attended the Lateran Council in Rome; and, while he was there, it is believed that he met Saint Francis of Assisi. Each of them would establish a new kind of religious life: mendicant and apostolic.

Up until that time, preaching had been the proper function of bishops. Pope Innocent III told Dominic to return to his brethren, and with them, choose an existing rule. Dominic and his companions chose the Rule of Saint Augustine, with constitutions appended. By the papal bull, dated 22 December 1216, the Order of Preachers was established. That year the friars were sixteen in number. Soon after that Pope Honorius III appointed Dominic Master of the Sacred Palace: theological advisor to the pope.

Dominic was exemplary in mortification, doctrine and contemplation. Each night, he would whip himself to the point of bleeding. Later, other Dominican saints would do the same. Dominic habitually wept for sinners. He was heard crying: O Lord, what will become of sinners? His most evident characteristic was that he always spoke to God in prayer or about God to others.

Near the end, he told the elders: Till this day, God, in His mercy, has kept my virginity pure and unstained. If you desire this blessed gift of God, hold yourselves apart from everything that can conjure up evil, for it is by watchful care in this that a man is loved by God and revered by man. Be eager in your service of God; strengthen and widen this newborn Order; increase your love of God and your keen observance of the Rule; grow in holiness. After his confession, he directed his sons to begin the Commendation of the Dying. During its recitation, he stretched his arms upward and died. It was Friday, 6 August 1221, the feast the Transfiguration. Saint Dominic was 51.

The Solemnity of Saint Dominic is celebrated on the eighth of August.