Saint Dominic of Gusman

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Yesterday, August 8, was the memorial of Saint Dominic, confessor, apostle of the devotion to the Holy Rosary, and Founder of the Order of preachers (Dominicans). He fought intensely against the Albigensians.

Newsroom (August 9, 2021, 8:45 AM, Gaudium Press) Dominic was born on June 24, 1170, in the small village of Caleruega, in Old Castile, now Spain. He belonged to an illustrious and noble family, very Catholic and wealthy: his parents were Felix de Gusman and Joana d’Aza, and his brothers, Antonio and Manes. The first became a priest and died with an odour of sanctity. The second, together with his mother, was beatified by the Church.

In this exemplary cradle, little Dominic followed the same path of serving God. Even his name was chosen to honor St. Dominic of Silos, because his mother, before Dominic was born, made a novena at the abbot’s shrine. And, as tradition tells, on the seventh day he appeared to her to announce that her future son would become a saint for the Catholic Church.

Dominic dedicated himself to his studies, becoming a very cultured person. But he never left charity aside. In Calencia, the city where he graduated, he surprised everyone by selling the objects in his room, including the expensive parchments used in his studies, in order to have a small “fund” to feed the poor and the sick.

At the age of twenty-four, feeling the call, he received priestly ordination. He was sent to the diocese of Osma, where he distinguished himself by his competence and intelligence. Soon he was invited to help King Alfonso VII in the diplomatic works of his government and also to represent the Holy See in some of its difficult missions.

During the Middle Ages, the period in which he lived, there was the heresy of the Albigenses, or Cathars, which arose in the south of France. Pope Innocent III sent him there, together with Diego of Aceber, his companion, to fight the reincarnationist Catholics. But, due to the sudden death of this dear friend, Dominic had to face the French mission alone. And he did it very efficiently, using only his life example and the preaching of the true Word of God.

In 1207, in St. Mary of Prouille, Dominic founded the first monastery of the Second Order of nuns, for young women who, due to poverty, were condemned to a life of sin.

Dominic’s holiness was gaining more and more fame, attracting people who wished to follow his model of the apostolate. This is how a small group called the “Brother Preachers” arose, of which his blood brother, Blessed Manes, was a member.

In 1215, from this brotherhood, Dominic decided to found an Order, offering a new proposal for Christian evangelization and apostolic life. It was presented to Pope Innocent III, who, in the same year, during the IV Lateran Council, granted the first approval. The following year, his successor, Pope Honorius III, issued the final approval, giving it the name Order of Friar Preachers, or Dominicans. They came to be known as wise, poor, and austere men, with science, piety and preaching as their essential characteristics.

In 1217, to attract the academic youth into the clergy, the founder determined that the Houses of the Order be established in the main university cities of Europe, which at the time were Bologna and Paris. He settled in Bologna, Italy, where he dedicated himself to the splendid development of his work, presiding, between 1220 and 1221, over the first two general chapters, destined to the final redaction of the “magna carta” of the Order.

On August 8, 1221, at only fifty-one years of age, he died. He was canonized by Pope Gregory IX, who held him in special esteem and friendship, in 1234.

Saint Dominic of Gusman was buried in the cathedral of Bologna and is venerated, on the day of his death, as Perpetual Patron and Defender of that city.

Compiled by Sarah Gangl

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