A Garner of Saints – Saint Dominic

illustration of a Dominican friar from 'A Garner of Saints', 1900, artist unknownArticle

Born in 1170 at Calaroga, in Old Castile. Before his birth his mother dreamed that she had brought forth a black-and-white dog carrying a lighted torch, who went and set fire to the whole world. The woman who took him from the font beheld a shining star on his forehead, which illuminated the whole world. From his earliest childhood he practised austerities, and would rise from bed and sleep on the ground. At the age of fourteen he was sent to the public schools of Palentia, where his progress was brilliant, and soon after he assumed the habit of Saint Augustine. At a time of famine in Castile he exhibited extraordinary devotion, even selling his books to supply money to the needy. At the age of thirty he was sent to France in company with Bishop Diego of Osma. They found Toulouse infected by the Albigensian heresy, to which their host was an adherent, so that Domenic spent the whole night in reasoning with him and his family, and in the morning they made a public recantation. From this time forth Domenic devoted his life to confuting and converting heretics. On one occasion as he was disputing with them he wrote down the authorities whom he had quoted and gave it to a heretic to deliberate upon. That same night he produced the schedule and offered to throw it into the fire as a test of the truth of the words which it contained. ‘This was done, and after it had remained for some time in the flames it leapt out unburned. This was repeated twice, but the heretics remained obdurate, and agreed to say nothing about it; however a knight who stood by published the miracle abroad. After remaining in Languedoc for ten years Domenic proceeded to Rome in order to obtain from Pope Innocent the confirmation of his proposed order of Friars Preachers or Dominicans which he founded. The Pope however was unwilling, but that night he dreamt that he saw the Lateran church and it was about to fall, and while he tremblingly awaited the crash the man of God, Domenic, ran up and supported the entire fabric on his shoulders. After this the Pope joyfully granted the saint’s request. After the death of Innocent, Honorius confirmed the rule of the order in- the year I216. While Domenic was at Rome praying for the success of his order, the apostles Peter and Paul appeared to him, the former giving him a staff, the latter a book, saying, “Go and preach, because you are chosen of God for this ministry.” He then perceived that he should send his monks to all the world to preach, and he accordingly sent them two together to every quarter of the earth. During his stay in Rome he dreamt that the Virgin presented himself and Saint Francis to Christ, and on the morrow, meeting Francis in the church, he knew him, and ran to embrace him, although they had never met before, narrating to him the vision of the preceding night. It was also during his stay at Rome that Reginald de Saint Amand, Dean of Orleans, came to the city by sea with the Bishop of Orleans.. It was his intention to abandon everything and take to preaching, and having heard of Saint Domenic from a cardinal, he went to him and declared his purpose. .He entered the order without further delay, but was almost immediately stricken down by -a fever, so that his life was despaired of. Domenic, however, prayed ceaselessly to the Virgin for his recovery, and as Reginald lay awaiting death he saw the Virgin coming to him with two beautiful maidens, and she said, “Ask. what thou wilt, and I will-give it to thee.” And as he wondered What he should ask, one of the maidens suggested that he should allow the Virgin to decide. He consented, and . the Virgin stretched out her hand, addressed .various commands to the different members of his body, adding that on the third day he should be fully restored. Finally she showed him the habit of the order. The same vision was seen by Domenic as he was in the act of praying. On the morrow Domenic came to Reginald and found him whole, and he assumed the habit which the Virgin had showed, for before that time the friars had worn over tunics. In the Church of Saint Sixtus there were about forty friars dwelling, and one day they found only a small quantity of bread. Domenic took what little there was and ordered it to be divided upon the table, and while they were joyfully breaking their morsel behold two youths of like aspect entered the refectory holding loaves in the folds of their dress, and having offered them to the Dominicans, they departed in silence, so that no one knew whence they had come or whither they went. Then Domenic invited the brethren to eat, stretching his hand to each of them. One day it came on to rain, but St Domenic made the sign of the cross, and not a drop came near him or his companions. It was the custom of Domenic to scourge himself three times every night with an iron chain, once for himself, once for sinners, and once for others who are being punished in Purgatory; he was twice elected to a bishopric, but refused the honour. A woman named Guta Dona, who had gone to hear him preach, on her return home found her child dead in its cradle. She brought it to the Church of St Sixtus and laid it at the feet of the saint, unable to speak for her tears. Domenic prayed fervently for some time, and then raised the child to life by making the sign of the cross. Domenic was nominated by the Pope, together with the cardinal of Fossa Nova, to gather into one house the nuns of Rome, who had no convent. One day as they were dealing with this matter a messenger came to announce that Napoleon, the cardinal’s nephew, had been killed by a fall from his horse. The cardinal was overwhelmed, but Domenic ordered the body to be brought, and asked that an altar should be prepared for the mass. He then proceeded to the church, followed by three cardinals, the nuns and friars there, and a great crowd. He celebrated mass, and at the elevation of the host he appeared to be raised from the ground, to the astonishment of all present. He then went to the corpse, and after making the sign of the cross, raised his hands to heaven, and said in a loud voice, “Napoleon, in the name of Jesus Christ, I command you to arise.” That instant the young man rose up in the presence of the assembled multitude. While Simon de Montford was besieging Toulouse, forty pilgrims from England, who did not wish to enter the heretical city, crossed the Garonne in a boat; the boat was overset by a storm, but the pilgrims were saved by the prayers of Saint Domenic. Domenic’s last days were spent at Bologna; he foresaw his own end, a beautiful youth appearing to him, saying, “Come, my beloved, come to joy, come.” Accordingly he gathered together the brethren of the convent and informed them of his approaching dissolution, exhorting them to charity, humility and poverty. He expired in August I221. The same day, as Gualo, prior of the order at Brescia, was sleeping in the belfry with his head against the door, he saw the heavens open, and two shining ladders were let down to earth, the tops of which were held by Christ, and the Virgin, and angels ascended and descended by them with rejoicing; in the middle of the ladders was a seat, and upon it the friar, with veiled head, and Jesus and the Virgin drew the ladders up, and the heavens closed. When Gualo came to Bologna that same day he learned that Domenic had expired. Another brother saw the saint wearing a golden crown, and accompanied by two reverend men. After death, and at the time of its burial, the body emitted a fragrant odour, more powerful than any spices, and anyone who touched the relics retained the scent for many days. 4th August.

Attributes

  • Star on the forehead, wears the Dominican habit; at his feet there is sometimes a dog with a lighted torch in his mouth.

MLA Citation

  • Allen Banks Hinds, M.A. “Saint Dominic”. A Garner of Saints, 1900. CatholicSaints.Info. 17 April 2017. Web. 21 July 2017. <>