Catholic Pocket Dictionary – Dominicans

Dominican FriarArticle

The founder of this celebrated order, Saint Dominic, was born in 1170, at Calaruega, a small town in the diocese of Osma, in Old Castile. He was educated at the university of Palencia, which afterwards was removed to Salamanca. After leaving the university he preached with great power in many places. The Bishop of Osma at this time, whose name was Diego, was a prelate of great earnestness and piety; the laxity and tepidity which prevailed among a portion of the Spanish clergy were a serious grief to him, and he pondered how he might introduce the type and germ of a better state of things. He wished to introduce a regular and quasi-conventual life among the canons of his cathedral, and the young Dominic appeared a fit instrument for his purpose. Appointed a canon, and strenuously aiding in the introduction in the chapter of the rule of Saint Austin, Dominic more than answered every expectation that had been formed of him, and obtained the entire confidence and affection of the bishop. The southern provinces of France were then teeming with the heresies of the numerous sects which pass under the general name of Albigenses, and the peril seemed imminent that large numbers of persons would before long, if no restraining influence appeared, throw off the bonds of religion, social order, and morality.

In 1215 Dominic had gathered round him sixteen men, of whom eight were Frenchmen, six Spaniards, one an Englishman, and one a Portuguese all prepared to embrace any way of life that he might prescribe to them. Pope Innocent III, upon the understanding that the founder should choose for the new institute some rule already sanctioned by the Church, and that the statutes of the order should be submitted for his approval, consented to the desire of Dominic and, his companions. Dominic selected the rule of Saint Austin for the use of his order; many of the statutes were adapted from those of Premontre.

When everything had been settled, and the first monastery was being built at Toulouse, Dominic went to Home to obtain the final confirmation of the Holy See. Arriving in the autumn of 1216, he found Honorius III occupying the Papal chair, and obtained from him in the following December a bull fully legalizing and confirming his institute, under the title of the “Preaching Brothers.” He made his solemn profession before Honorius, as the first member of the order, and then returned to Toulouse.

Into the intellectual movement of the age, of which the foundation of many universities, and the rapid development of others were the chief outward signs, the Dominicans eagerly gave themselves.

Albertus Magnus, entering the order in the time of the second general, Jordanus Saxo, lectured in the university of Paris on the philosophy of Aristotle. His fame was eclipsed by that of the still larger and stronger mind of him who was his ardent disciple, and also a Dominican, Saint Thomas of Aquinas. The “Summa Theologize,” has been commended to the respect of all Christians, and the careful study of the clergy, by the late Pope Leo XIII. The system of Saint Thomas was so vast as to afford scope for the labor of many commentators, and a school hence arose, consisting chiefly of Dominicans, named Thomists.

MLA Citation

  • Father James J McGovern. “Dominicans”. Catholic Pocket Dictionary, 1906. CatholicSaints.Info. 4 November 2019. Web. 26 February 2021. <>