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Amazing Lives of Saints

Saint Dominic
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Young Dominic was sitting at the window of the cathedral school reading intently some of his treasured parchments when he heard a heavy knock at the front door.  As he swung open the wooden door, the sight of a peasant, shivering, with shoulders stooped from hardships, met his eyes.  Dominic understood that the man needed some food for his family and for himself.

As Dominic hurried towards the kitchen, he said to himself:  “There must be something more I can do.”  Thoughtfully he gathered some bread and provisions that father Prior had given him and he was going to save them to that poor man.  It didn’t seem right that others were keeping things that were not very essential when others were dying for lack of neccesities.  Before letting the man go, Dominic asked him about his address.  The man looked slightly taken aback and muttered something about a shack near the city gates.

The very next morning saw the young man, son of a noble family of Calaruega, hurrying down to the market to sell an armload of parchment rolls.  It was his whole collection.  This was costing him a great deal, but every time he thought of the contrast between himself and the beggar, he was even more determined to give up what he had.  After a little searching, he recognized the shack, which the beggar described.  He slipped the bag of coins in an open window and strode quickly down the street.

This was to become typical, of Dominic – concern for others, for their welfare, both material and spiritual.

Several years passed.  The young student was now ordained as a member of the Canons of Saint Augustine.  He progressed steadily in the love of God, and was made prior of the Chapter in Osma.

Once, he was asked by the Bishop to go with a special embassy for the King and on the way they stopped in a small inn in Southern France.  Dominic had heard of the Albigensian heresy.  The innkeeper himself was a staunch Albigensian.  The kind priest systematically and logically explained to the innkeeper the right teachings of the Church, the host of the inn was thoroughly convinced and Dominic left him clarified about the full truths regarding the Church.

This occasion changed Dominic’s outlook.  He felt that there was something he himself could and should do, so that the truths of faith might be taught and known by people.  He knew for certain now that his life must be spent not just in contemplation but in an active work of preaching about the faith.

Dominic then conceived of a new religious order at the service of the Church which would preach the Gospel to men of every social class.  For ten years he travelled throughout southern France, preaching, debating and praying.  Slowly he gathered a group of preachers whom he led and directed.  He desired to revive genuine apostolic spirit among the ministers of God.  On August 13, 1217, in the city of Prouille, the friars Preachers (later known as Dominicans) met for the first time as a congregation.  After two days of instruction, Dominic divided the little group and sent them to different places.  Like the first apostles they were to go two by two from the village to village, from hamlet to city, announcing everywhere the Good News of the Gospel and the true message of the Church. 

The final approval of the Church was, however, long in coming.  At the time the fourth Lateran Council had just voted against the multiplication of religious orders.  Besides, Dominic had introduced several innovations which take longer study before approval could be given.

Dominic went back to rome to resign his post as general of the Order, because he wanted to preach to the tartars, but the Pope felt that he would do better if he were to remain as the guide of the infant Order.  For several months Dominic preached in various churches in the city of Rome itself. 

It was probably during this time that the famous meeting of Dominic with Francis of Assisi took place.  Dominic dreamed, one night, that the sinful world was being threatened by divine anger.  It was only saved through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who pointed out to her son two zealous men.  Dominic recognized one as he himself, but the other man; a beggar was a stranger to him. 

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The following morning when Dominic went to say his Mass, he saw the same beggar he had seen in his dreams.  It was Francis of Assisi.  Their eyes met and Dominic stepped forward to embrace him saying: “You are my companion.  We shall walk together, for if we do, no earthly power will be able to resist us.” 

Dominic preached extensively in Rome.  He helped to give a definite rule of life to a few convents of nuns in the city.  Meanwhile his friars were spreading rapidly into Poland, Scandinavia, England, and Palestine.  He began visiting these houses.  He went to Spain where he founded two friars, one at Seforia and another in Madrid.

Soon Dominic was on his way back to Bologna.  Somewhat he felt far more tired than was usual.  He smiled to himself.  It had to be expected for he was getting old.

The coachman was inviting Dominic to come down now.  But Dominic hesitated.  He thought he was mistaken for he saw a stately monastery under construction.  His heart sank, as he saw one of his members come down to greet him.  His dismay turned to anger.  None of his men should live like this!  Their spirit was to be poverty, study and prayer.  He ordered them to return to their old house and they did.  This strong discipline was later seen to be largely responsible for the rapid spread of the community.

That same year, a general chapter was held to make a final draft of the Constitutions of the Order.  Shortly after the second session of this Chapter, Dominic fell ill.  He knew that the time for him to return to his Maker was near; he desired to be in the midst of his sons when he died and he wanted to be buried “under the feet of the brethen.”

One evening of August, Dominic lay dying, with his spiritual sons gathered around him chanting some prayers.  His face was very serene.  His only desire now was to see God whom he had served throughout his life.  Then silently, almost unnoticed, he breathed his last.  Dominic’s practice of poverty was exemplary.  He had given up even what was necessary.  The bed where he died belongs to one of the brothers, because he himself slept on the floor.  The habit he wore was borrowed because the one he had previously been wearing was already worn out. 

Dominic’s testament was as simple and as clear as his life had been: “…my sons, have charity among yourselves, hold fast to humility, keep a willing poverty.”

Saint Dominic’s order of preachers conquered the Albigensians Heresy with the weapon he gave them: prayer, especially the Holy Rosary, humility, mortification, charity and poverty.  Once when someone asked Dominic what book he used to prepare his brilliant sermons, he simply said:  “The only book I used is the book of Love.”  His Love of God and Love of Neighbor was derived from a great spirit of Prayer.

Saint Dominic was a great lover of Mary, the mother of God.  He and his followers were very devoted to the recitation of the rosary. No one did more than they spread the beautiful practice of saying the Rosary.