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