History of St. Dominic
St. Dominic was born in Caleruega, Spain, in 1170. After being ordained a priest and while passing through southern France with his bishop in the year 1203, the young priest was shocked to witness the spiritual errors of the Albigensian heresy which, among other things, taught that the physical world was evil – despite the fact that God’s Son chose to live in it Himself. In order to reach out to these souls, Dominic founded a three-fold religious Order, one for the converted Albigensian women at Prouille (later the Dominican sisters), one for an apostolic band of friar preachers, and another for men and women known as tertiaries living in the world as lay Dominicans affiliated with the Order.
At first, Dominic found the heretics unreceptive, stubborn and often hostile. St. Dominic’s humility, fatherly kindness, patience and joyfulness under persecution impressed even his enemies. During his lifetime, he healed the sick. When threatened with death, he would reply: “I am not worthy of the martyr’s crown.” He twice rejected a bishopric, and he enjoyed a warm friendship with St. Francis of Assisi, which is still commemorated in the liturgies of the Franciscan and Dominican Orders. Several times he was consoled and strengthened in his apostolate by apparitions of Christ and his Mother.
Four times in his life Dominic journeyed on foot to Rome. Pope Honorius III confirmed his Order and gave Dominic the Convent of Santa Sabina for his friars, a place that, to this day, the Master of the Order of Preachers still calls home. Dominic made foundations in university cities to ensure an adequate education for the brethren. On August 15, 1217, he scattered his men to various parts of Europe saying: “If grain is sown it bears fruit, but if it is stored it rots.” The founder lived to witness the amazing expansion of his Order. He was felled by sheer exhaustion after his last mission in Lombardy at the age of 51. After making a general confession, he said to his weeping brethren: “Do not weep, my children, I shall be more useful to you where I am going than I have ever been in this life. Have charity, guard humility, keep voluntary poverty.” He fell asleep in Christ on August 6, 1221, at Bologna, Italy, where his relics now lie in a marble tomb of exquisite beauty, the work of Nicholas Pisano.