Today’s saint, St Dominic (*1170 +1221) was born in Castile (part of modern Spain). In 1216 he founded the Order of Preachers, dedicated to saving souls by preaching and persuasion. Like the Franciscans, founded a few years before, the Dominicans put great importance on poverty, both of the individual and of the community, and of the need to be involved directly in the world while still living some form of monastic life. The Friars made a lasting impact on the life of mediaeval Europe, and the Dominicans in particular altered the course of intellectual history. According to a tradition, Our Lady gave the Rosary to St Dominic as a most effective way of helping Christians to grow in holiness. Dominic always carried with him a copy of Matthew’s gospel which he practically knew by heart.
Here is an excerpt from the Office of Readings about St Dominic’s character and his great zeal for the love of God and salvation of souls.
Dominic possessed such great integrity and was so strongly motivated by divine love, that without a doubt he proved to be a bearer of honour and grace. He was a man of great firmness of mind, except when moved to compassion and mercy. And since a joyful heart animates the face, he displayed the peaceful composure of a spiritual man in the kindness he manifested outwardly and by the cheerfulness of his countenance.
Wherever he went he showed himself in word and deed to be a man of the Gospel. During the day no one was more community-minded or pleasant toward his brothers and associates. During the night hours no one was more persistent in every kind of prayer vigil and supplication. He seldom spoke unless it was with God, that is, in prayer, or about God, and in this matter he instructed his brothers. Frequently he made a personal petition that God would grant him a genuine charity, to care for and obtain the salvation of men. For he believed that only then would he be truly a member of Christ, when he had given himself totally for the salvation of men, just as the Lord Jesus, the Saviour of all, had offered himself completely for our salvation. So, for this work, after a lengthy period of careful and provident planning, he founded the Order of Friars Preachers.