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St. Dominic


The founder of the Dominican Order, St. Dominic (1170-1221), was born in Spain, where he was well educated in preparation for the priesthood. Dominic was ordained in 1206, and when his bishop, Diego, was appointed a papal emissary to the Albigensians, Dominic was chosen to accompany him. The Albigensians were a heretical group in southern France who believed that all created matter is evil; they rejected Church teachings and lived simple, ascetical lives. Their lifestyle won them the sympathy of the common people, and the Church’s efforts to counteract their influence had previously been unsuccessful.

Bishop Diego and Dominic took a new approach; they prepared carefully for their debates with Albigensians, and themselves lived very simply. Upon Diego’s death, Dominic became the leader of an effort to convert the heretics through preaching, even though the Church had previously relied on the exercise of military force by the authorities to overcome the Albigensians.

In 1215 Dominic organized the Order of Preachers: a religious body of men living a simple lifestyle and dedicated to combating heresy by preaching a message of love and forgiveness. The Order was approved by Rome in 1216, several years after the establishment of the Franciscans. (St. Dominic and St. Francis of Assisi are closely united in a number of legends, and their Orders have often cooperated closely.) St. Dominic continued traveling, preaching, and working to strengthen his Order until his death in 1221.

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photo via Wikimedia Commons