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Monday, 27 October 2014

Saint Dominic

Saint Dominic was born to a pious noble family 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.

Dominic was educated first by an uncle who was a priest.  At the age of 17 Dominic entered the University of Palencia, where he studied theology and philosophy.

As a student Dominic once sold his books (a huge sacrifice in the days before printing) to provide food for the poor during a famine. For him poverty was a virtue.

In 1196 Dominic became canon of the Cathedral of Osma, in Castile, and was soon actively engaged in local ecclesiastical reform. He rose to sub- prior.

In 1203 Dominic accompanied his superior, Didacus of Acebes, bishop of Osma, on a religious mission to Rome in 1203. During his journey he struck by the hold the Gnostic Cathar heresy (who believed that Jesus was an angel rather than incarnated man) had on the people of southern France.

Dominic decided to bring the Cathars back into the church by founding an order of wandering preachers who  would preach the Word of God and demonstrate the virtues of poverty to them.

In 1208 A crusade was launched against the Cathar heretics in southern France led by the baron, Simon de Montfort. Dominic acts as a spiritual advisor. Sadly this resulted in violent pillaging and looting in the area by knights from the north of France. At the siege of Toulouse, Dominic was credited with saving around 40 English pilgrims whose boats had capsized on a river by the fervour of his prayers, when he was called to the shore.

In 1216 Pope Honorius III officially sanctioned Dominic’s Dominican order. They were to be a preaching order whose main emphasis was to counteract, by means of teaching, preaching, and the example of austerity, the heresies that were prevalent at the time.

Dominic's diet often consisted of only a small piece of fish or a couple of egg yolks.

Blessed Cecilia Caesarini, who was received by St. Dominic into his new order, described him as "...thin and of middle height. His face was handsome and somewhat fair. He had reddish hair and beard and beautiful eyes. ...His hands were long and fine and his voice pleasingly resonant. He never got bald, though he wore the full tonsure, which was mingled with a few grey hairs.”

Saint Dominic, portrayed in the Perugia Altarpiece by Fra Angelico.

Dominic was in northern Italy, where he was about to set off on a mission to Hungary. He fell fatally ill, worn out by continuous travels on foot, little food and lack of sleep.  The saint died in Bologna on August 6, 1221.

Dominic admitted on his deathbed that he was a virgin, yet had preferred talking to girls rather than old ladies.

Dominic was canonised in 1234. His feast day is August 8th.

In 1963, "Soeur Sourire", the Singing Nun of Belgium, scored a US #1 hit with the song "Dominique", about St Dominic.

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