Saint Dominic (Spanish: Santo Domingo), also known as Dominic of Osma and Dominic of Caleruega, often called Dominic de Guzmán and Domingo Félix de Guzmán (August 8, 1170 – August 6, 1221), was a Castilian priest and founder of the Dominican Order. Dominic is the patron saint of astronomers.
Dominic was born in Caleruega, halfway between Osma and Aranda de Duero in Old Castile, Spain. He was named after Saint Dominic of Silos, who is said to be the patron saint of hopeful mothers. The Benedictine abbey of Santo Domingo de Silos lies a few miles north of Caleruega.
Dominic was educated in the schools of Palencia (they became a university soon afterwards) where he devoted six years to the arts and four to theology. In 1191, when Spain was desolated by famine, young Dominic gave away his money and sold his clothes, furniture and even precious manuscripts to feed the hungry. Dominic reportedly told his astonished fellow students, “Would you have me study off these dead skins, when men are dying of hunger?” In 1194, around age twenty-five, Dominic joined the Canons Regular in the canonry in the Cathedral of Osma, following the rule of Saint Augustine.
In 1215, Dominic established himself, with six followers, in a house given by Peter Seila, a rich resident of Toulouse. Dominic saw the need for a new type of organization to address the spiritual needs of the growing cities of the era, one that would combine dedication and systematic education, with more organizational flexibility than either monastic orders or the secular clergy. He subjected himself and his companions to the monastic rules of prayer and penance; and meanwhile bishop Foulques gave them written authority to preach throughout the territory of Toulouse.
In the same year, the year of the Fourth Lateran Council, Dominic and Foulques went to Rome to secure the approval of the Pope, Innocent III. Dominic returned to Rome a year later, and was finally granted written authority in December 1216 and January 1217 by the new pope, Honorius III for an order to be named “The Order of Preachers” (“Ordo Praedicatorum”, or “O.P.,” popularly known as the Dominican Order).
Dominic died at the age of fifty-one, according to Guiraud “exhausted with the austerities and labours of his career”. He had reached the convent of St Nicholas at Bologna, Italy, “weary and sick with a fever”. Guiraud states that Dominic “made the monks lay him on some sacking stretched upon the ground” and that “the brief time that remained to him was spent in exhorting his followers to have charity, to guard their humility, and to make their treasure out of poverty”. He died at noon on 6 August 1221. His body was moved to a simple sarcophagus in 1233. Under the authority of Pope Gregory IX, Dominic was canonized in 1234.
History of the Rosary
The spread of the Rosary, a Marian devotion, is attributed to the preaching of Saint Dominic. The Rosary has for centuries been at the heart of the Dominican Order. Pope Pius XI stated, “The Rosary of Mary is the principle and foundation on which the very Order of Saint Dominic rests for making perfect the life of its members and obtaining the salvation of others.” For centuries, Dominicans have been instrumental in spreading the rosary and emphasizing the Catholic belief in the power of the rosary.
The feast of Saint Dominic is celebrated with great pomp and devotion in Malta, in the old city of Birgu and the capital city Valletta. The Dominican order has very strong links with Malta and as a matter of fact, Pope St. Pius V, a Dominican friar himself, aided the Knights of St. John to build the city of Valletta.