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Dominic (c.1172 - 1221)

Synopsis

DOMINIC, St., and the DOMINICANS. Domingo de Guzman, the founder of the Dominican order, was b. 1170, at Calaruega, in the diocese of Osnia, Old Castile, and d. in the Monastery of St. Nicholas, at Bologna, Aug. 6, 1221. From his sixth year he was educated by his uncle, who was arch1)resbyter at Gumyel de Yçan; and when lie was fourteen years old he entered tile University of Palencia. In 1194 he was made a canon, and afterwards sub-prior of the chapter of Osma, where he ailed the Bishop Diego de Azevedo in introducing the rules of St. Augustine. He also labored, and with great success, as a missionary among the Mohammedans1 and heretics of the neighhorhood. In 1204 he accompanied Diego on a diplomatical errand into Southern France, and there he caine into contact with time Albigenses. The task of converting these revolters against the faith amid authority of Rome had been intrusted to the Cistercians; but they had utterly failed, and were about to give up the work, when, in an assembly at Montpellier, Diego and Dominic persuaded them to go on. But the success was slight: only a few were converted. Diego soon left for his diocese; also the Cistercians withdrew; and Dominic with a few followers was left alone in the field. From Bishop Fulco of Toulouse he received some support; but the foundation of an asylum for girls at Prouille, in the diocese of Toulouse, was nearly the only result of his activity.

This nunnery of Prouille became the place of rendezvous for Dominic and his followers until time Cellanis joined the brotherhood, and presented them with a house in Toulouse. The Roman curia also showed that it felt obliged to Dominic: it offered him the bishopric of Beziers. Innocent III. had no confidence in prayers and preaching as weapons against heretics. The sword and the battering-ram he considered more effective; and after the assassination of his legate, Cardinal Castelnau, he preached a crusade against the Albigenses. Dominic and the brotherhood followed in the wake of the terrible army as a kind of court of inquiry. All suspicious or suspected persons were placed before this court; and, haying been convicted of heresy, they were passed on to the stake. After the end of the war Dominic determined to transform the brotherhood he had founded into a permanent weapon of attack against heresy, into an order of preclicant monks. Bishop Fulco, who liked to see his diocese becoming the seat of a new monastic order, was charmed at the idea, and accompanied Dominic to Rome, where the fourth council of the Lateran was just assembled (1215); but the council determined that no new order should be founded, and the petition of Dominic was left unheeded. He did not give up his idea, however; and finally Innocent III. gave his consent on the condition that the brotherhood should adopt the rules of some older, already recognized order, and organize itself in the simple form of colleges of canons. The brotherhood chose the rules of St. Augustine, to which were added some others from the statutes of the Præmonstratensians, — silence, poverty, fasts, cornplete abstinence from flesh, linen clothes, etc.; but the prospects of success were very small. Then Innocent III. died (July 17, 1216) ; and his successor, Honorius III., held a much more favorable opinion of the efficacy of a predicant order. Dominic hastened to Rome; and in December (same year) Honorius confirmed the statutes, and gave the order, as its symbol, a dog with a lighted torch in his mouth; the order being destined to watch the Church like a dog, and to illuminate it like a torch. The brotherhood now began to develop a great activity for time purpose of spreading the order. Some went to Spain, others to Paris, where a monastery was founded in the house of St. Jacob, whence the Dominicans in France were afterwards called Jacobins. Dominic himself founded monasteries in Metz and Venice. During a visit to Itoiite he began to preach to time lower servants of the papal household, who were allowed, it seems, to live on without any spiritual care at all; and he was then appointed Magister Sacri Palatii, or court-preacher to the Pope, an office which still exists, and still is held by a Dominican. Still the order would not grow. Something was missing in order to insure success, and it took time before Dominic discovered what it was.

In 1219 he seems to have been present at the chapter-general held by the Franciscans at Assisi. There he saw how an ostentatious display of poverty and destitution, an almost crack-brained passion for dirt and rags and all the disgusts of misery, made the monks accepted by the mass of the people as brethren: consequently, he immediately threw himself upon the track pointed out by the Franciscans. At the chapter-general which the Dominicans held in 1220, in the Monastery of St. Nicholas, at Bologna, the order renounced the possession of property in any form or shape, and declared for complete poverty, and the daily begging of the means indispensable to the sustenance of life. When the iiext chapter-general was held in Bologna (1221), sixty inonasteries were represented, and members were sent to far-off places to make new foundations. Thus Dominic lived to see his order successful; and twelve years after his death (1233) he was himself canonized by his friend Gregory IX.

Many external circumstances were favorable to the prosperity and rapid growth of the order after it first got started. Mendicant and predicant monks cannet live in a desert. The large city is their natural "environment;" and city-life entered just at this time upon a period of brilliant development. Other orders, for instance the Cistercians, saw their opportunity, and moved into the city; but none found it so easy to strike root there as the Dominicans. The most miserable hut was good enough for them: the next day they began begging and preaching. Their poverty, however, soon became a mere simulation. In 1425 Martin V. recalled the prohibition to possess real estate or other property. Donations and bequests poured in upon the order. It built monasteries and churches; and art is indebted to it for some of the finest specimens of Gothic architecture. Still greater was the influence which it exercised on science. In 1228 the teachers of the University of Paris left the city an account of some squabbles with Queen Blanca, and retired with their pupils, partly to Rheims, partly to Angers. A chair was then established for a Dominican monk, and in 1230 another was added. Thus the mendicant orders got a foot-bold in the universities (for the Franciscans soon followed); and not only did they vindicate their place in the teeth of a most vehement opposition, but they finally usurped the whole space, and became the means by which the Church succeeded in crushing all free science. Scholasticism is not simply a scientific form which the Dominicans found ready-niacle, and were compelled to adopt: in its latest, most elaborate, but also narrowest and most unnatural phase, it is a production of the Dominicans themselves; and during its reign the history of theology, philosophy, science, was hardly more than a rivalry between the Dominicans and the Franciscans. The controversy between Thomists and Scotists - the controversy concerning the exemption of Mary from hereditary sin - began and ended in this rivalry. The Dominicans were victorious; and many great and good men they produced, -Albertus Magnus, ThomasAquinas, Meister Eckart, Johann Tauler, Heinrich Suso, Savonarola, Las Casas, Vincent Ferrier, and Vincent of Beauvais. They have given the Church more than eight hundred bishops, a hundred and fifty archbishops, sixty cardinals, and four popes. But they gradually degenerated. At the beginning of the Reformation they held supreme sway over theological science; but they were shockingly ignorant, and by their activity as dealers in indulgences they actually prostituted the Church. Still worse: they lacked the power of regeneration, such as the Franciscans proved themselves possessed of, by the formation of reformed congregations; and the end of their long labors through six centuries was a severe rebuke by the head of the Church, when, on Dec. 8, 1854, Pius IX. promulgated the dogma of the immaculate conception of the Virgin, - a dogma they had always opposed.

1 An inaccurate, offensive and obsolete name for Muslims. It should not be used by modern writers.
Albrecht Vogel "Dominic, St." Philip Schaff, ed., A Religious Encyclopaedia or Dictionary of Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal, and Practical Theology, 3rd edn, Vol. 1. Toronto, New York & London: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1894. pp. 657-658. Footnote mine

Primary Sources

Book or monograph Jordan of Saxony, OP. On the Beginnings of the Order of Preachers, S.C. Tugwell, OP. ed. & trans. Dominican Series, 1. Dominican Sources, 1982. Pbk. ISBN: 0951120204. pp.35. {Amazon.com}
Book or monograph Francis C. Lehner, OP., ed. Saint Dominic: Biographical Documents. Washington, DC: Thomist Press, 1964. pp. vii + 258.
Book or monograph Tugwell: Early DominicansSimon C. Tugwell, OP. Early Dominicans: Selected Writings. Classics of Western Spirituality. New York: Paulist Press, 1999. Pbk. ISBN: 0809124149. pp.51-119. {Amazon.com}
Book or monograph Simon C. Tugwell, OP. "The Nine Ways of Prayer of St. Dominic," Medieaval Studies 47 (1985): 1-124.

Secondary Sources

Book or monograph Beebe: St. Dominic and the RosaryCatherine Beebe, St. Dominic and the Rosary. Ignatius Press, 1996. Pbk. ISBN: 0898705185. pp.161. {Amazon.com}
On-line Resource Augusta Theodosia Drane [1823-1894], The History of St. Dominic, Founder of the Friars Preachers. London, 1891. [This material is in the Public Domain]
Book or monograph Bede Jarrett, Life of St. Dominic (1170-1221). Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1968.
Book or monograph Vladimir Koudelka, Dominic, Simon Tugwell, translator. London: Darton, Longman & Todd Ltd., 1997. Pbk. ISBN: 0232520682. pp.208. {Amazon.com}
Book or monograph Pierre Félix Mandonnet, St. Dominic and His Work. St. Louis, MO / London: B. Herder, 1944. pp. xviii + 487.
Article in Journal or Book S.C. Tugwell, OP. "Notes on the Life of St. Dominic," Archivum Fratum Praedicatorum, 66 (1996): 5-200; 68 (1998): 5-116.
Book or monograph M.H. Vicaire, Saint Dominic and His Times. London, 1964.

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