Founder of the Friars Preachers, or dominicans; b. Caleruega (Diocese of Osma, Old Castile) after 1170; d. Bologna, Italy, Aug. 6, 122l.
Early Career. Dominic was trained for the clerical state by an uncle who was an archpriest, and he studied arts and theology at Palencia. About 1196 he became a canon in the chapter of the cathedral of Osma, which in 1199 had fully revived the regular common or apostolic life in accord with Acts 4.32–33. He was elected subprior c. 1201. In 1203 and again from 1205 to 1206, two journeys on a royal embassy to northern Europe with his bishop, Didacus of Acebes, drew him from the contemplative life, revealing to him the state and needs of the Church, especially the threat posed by heresy in Languedoc; and at that time he visited Rome and Cîteaux. At Montpellier (June 1206) a meeting with three Cistercian legates sent against the albigenses (waldenses), and especially the cathari, led to his being commissioned for the papal mission under the authority of the legates. With the Cistercians and, after 1207, with a few companions, he engaged in itinerant mendicant preaching according to the gospel ideal (Lk 9.1–6; 10.1–12) This ministry had been proposed by the bishop of Osma and adopted by the legates, and it was confirmed by the pope (bull of Nov. 17, 1206). Dominic pursued this apostolate until the end of 1217, despite the obstacles created after 1209 by the Albigensian Crusade. Toward the end of 1206, he founded at Prouille a convent of women for the purpose of receiving converts from Albigensianism. This convent served thenceforth as a base for his preaching.
Founding of the Friars Preachers. About 1214, his band of preachers was in the process of becoming a community, and in 1215 Dominic took them to Toulouse, then recently conquered by the Crusade. There he founded a religious house, with the consent of the legate and the approval of Bp. Fulk of Toulouse, who accepted his regular program, conferred on him half the diocesan tithes reserved for the poor, and entrusted to him and to his confreres the preaching and defense of faith and morals in the entire diocese. This preaching was conducted according to the gospel style already practiced by the group. At the time of the Fourth lateran council (October 1215) Dominic solicited innocent iii for confirmation of his order, i.e., of his regular purpose, of the revenues accorded to his brethren, of their ministry, and even of their name, the Preachers. He was granted all these requests the following year (bulls of Dec. 22, 1216, and Jan. 21, 1217) by honorius iii, but only after he and his confreres had adopted the rule of St. augustine and the strict observances borrowed from prÉmontrÉ. The latter prescription was made to satisfy the requirements of canon 13 of the Council, forbidding new orders.
Development of the Order. From 1217 to 1221, Dominic worked simultaneously on three levels: (1) He completed the organization of his order, which he expanded by distributing his friars among Toulouse, Paris, Bologna, Madrid, and Rome (Aug. 15, 1217). The Universities of paris for Theology and bologna for Canon Law became the pivots of the order. At the first general chapter, held in Bologna on May 17, 1220, he achieved the adoption of conventual mendicancy that, by complementing the mendicancy of the friar during his ministry, assured the homogeneity of his evangelical program. At this chapter he also drafted the order's constitutional legislation, completed at the next chapter (Bologna, May 30, 1221). (2) During his stay in Rome, where he spent each winter except that of 1219, the pope and curia gave him vigorous support. He was in Bologna in the summer of 1219 and in the spring of 1220 and 1221. In Rome and Bologna, as well as during his journeys, especially the great swing from Rome to Madrid, Toulouse, Paris, and Bologna from 1218 to 1219, he was busy at setting his brothers everywhere studying and preaching, and at establishing new houses. In four years, six priories were founded in Lombardy, four in Provence, four in France, three in Tuscany and Rome, and two in Spain; bands of preachers also left for England, Germany, Hungary, and Scandinavia. He founded also convents for women, especially that of St. Sixtus in Rome, whose rule exerted influence even outside the order. (3) Dominic devoted himself personally to a strenuous ministry of preaching. He even dreamed of evangelizing the savage Cumans in Eastern Europe. With Cardinal Hugolino, he undertook a vast mission in northern Italy (1220–21), almost a replica of his Albigensian mission. But these exertions were too much for him and, exhausted, he died at Bologna.
Sanctity. The dominant traits of Dominic's personality were attachment to truth, a quick grasp of situations, maturity of reflection aided by long periods of prayer, and firmness in decision. Joined to these were a great capacity for instant rapport, sympathy, and enthusiasm, a great heart quickly moved to mercy, an attachment to confreres and friends, and courage. Three heroic virtues were especially evidenced throughout his entire life: mortification, in vigils, fasts, corporal penances, and the privations of mendicant poverty; prayer, often for whole nights in the church with intervals of sleep taken on the ground; above all, his love of neighbor, which he never separated from his love of the Church. As a cleric, he had a keen sense of the needs of the Church, of her hierarchy, of her resources for action, and he was completely dedicated in accepting and bearing the totality of her anxieties and burdens. He had, in addition, a taste for community living and a genius for synthesis. If he created the prototype of apostolic orders, it was because he was the first to succeed in linking organically a life with God, impelling him to study and prayer in all its forms, with the ministry of salvation of his fellowman by the word of God, which ministry he assigned as the specific goal of his order and to which he subordinated all else. Everything he thought and said and did was rooted in a strong and poignant love of the Savior, which often made him weep while preaching or celebrating Mass. It was in the constant contact with the Christ of the Gospel that he discovered the point of convergence of all the traditions of "imitation of the Apostles," which he gathered together: "to speak only of God or with God."
Cultus. From the start, his tomb became the site of public veneration. After his canonization by Gregory IX on July 3, 1234, a new monument was erected by Nicola Pisano (1265), finished by Nicolò d'Antonio (1473), with a detail added by Michelangelo (1495). Confraternities of St. Dominic were organized from 1244 on. Development of the rosary devotion and confraternities of the rosary at the end of the 15th century further advanced his cultus.
There is no authentic portrait of St. Dominic. The 13th-century paintings are symbolic and Byzantine-inspired. But there is a description of him by Sister Cécile (Lehner, 183–), who saw him in 1221. The scientific examination of the relics in 1943 made it possible to check on the accuracy of this description and to make an anatomically accurate effigy, which measures 5 feet 5 1/2 inches.
His iconographic symbols, drawn from his work or the legends about him, are the book of the constitutions, the dog running with a burning torch in its mouth, the star on his forehead, and the lily and the rosary. He is portrayed wearing the black and white habit of the Preachers and often with a short beard.
Feast: Aug. 4.
Bibliography: m. h. laurent, ed., Monumenta Ordinis Fratrum Praedicatorum histoica 15 (1933). jordan of saxony, Libellus de principiis ordinis praedicatorum, ed. h. c. scheeben ibid. 16 (1935). gerard de frachet, The Vitae fratrum, ed. b. m. reichert, pt. 2 ibid. 1 (1896). stephen of salagnac, De quatuor in quibus, ed. t. kÄppeli ibid. 22 (1949). p. mothon, "Constitutions primitives," Analecta Sacri Ordinis Praedicatorum 2 (1895) 619–648. Eng. tr. of the principal sources in f. c. lehner, ed., Saint Dominic: Biographical Documents (Washington 1964). v. j. koudelka, "Notes sur le cartulaire de S. Dominique," Archivum Fratrum Praedicatorum 28 (1958) 92–114; 33 (1963) 89–120; 34 (1964) 5–44. Bibliotheca sanctorum 4:692–727. Biographies. b. jarrett, Life of St. Dominic (2d ed. London 1934). h. c. scheeben, Der heilige Dominikus (Freiburg 1927). p. mandonnet, Saint Dominique: L'Idée, l'homme et l'oeuvre, ed. m. h. vicaire and r. ladner, 2 v. (Paris 1938); Eng. tr. m. b. larkin (St. Louis 1944). m. h. vicaire, Histoire de saint Dominique, 2 v. (Paris 1957); Eng. tr., Saint Dominic and His Times, tr. k. pond (New York 1964). Spirituality. h. clÉrissac, The Spirit of Saint Dominic, ed. b. delany (London 1939). m. h. vicaire, Dictionnaire de spiritualité ascétique et mystique. Doctrine et histoire, ed. m. viller et. al 3:1519–32; L'Imitation des apôtres (Paris 1963). Iconography. p.a. d'amato et al., Le Reliquie di S. Domenico (Bologna 1946). g. bazin, Saint Dominique (Paris 1937). m. h. vicaire and l. von matt, St. Dominic, a Pictorial Biography, tr. g. meath (Chicago 1957) m. c. celletti, Bibliotheca sanctorum 4:727–734.
[m. h. vicaire]