Saints of the Day – Dominic Lauricatus (Loricatus), Hermit

Saint Dominic LoricatusArticle

Born in Umbria, Italy, in 995; died 1060. Throughout his life Dominic wore a coat of rough iron chain mail next to his skin (hence the name Loricatus, which means clothed in armor). He wore it not for protection, but for mortification. His father had him ordained a priest in contravention of canon law by means of a bribe. Upon learning about this, Dominic determined to do penance for the rest of his life.

He remembered the words of Saint Paul: “I find then a law that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:21-24). Dominic took stock of the respective strength of his body and his soul, and found that his body was the stronger. He therefore attacked it resolutely, violently, scourging himself without mercy.

He became a hermit, then a Benedictine monk. Fontavellana Abbey to which he belonged had no fixed rule, each inmate was left to perfect himself as his own way and to invent his own method of mortification. Saint Dominic’s was to wear his iron coat of mail next to his skin, removing it only when scourging himself, at which time he also recited Psalms. His particular exercise was to recite the psalter as quickly as possible, and at the same time give himself as many strokes as possible.

We would be wrong to laugh at him, for our own century is even more ridiculous with its constant search for records, and moreover Dominic harmed no one, not even himself, since in the long run he proved himself worthy of God.

The only chink in his armor was that he could not live peacefully with the other monks and had to change his hermitage frequently. A champion of violence against himself, he was perhaps too violent with others as well, not physically but in his attitude. Violent personalities such as his often arouse hostility and fear.

His superior, Saint Peter Damian, once pointed out to him that “gentle patience is a virtue,” but Dominic preferred to suffer physically at his own hands than to suffer in his spirit at the hands of others. And if there is more than a touch of pride in this, we should remember that Dominic was a man like the rest of us.

It might perhaps seem that he was insulting his Creator by thus maltreating the body that had been given him. (It was so much against his nature to treat his body other than harshly that he died of the first medicine that, out of obedience, he was obliged to take). But God sees into our hearts and souls, and the strange and disconcerting attitude of Dominic was, in the last analysis, an attitude of love. For far greater than the love or hate of one’s body is the love of God, and if Dominic scourged his body it was from love of God.

Everyone is free to express this love in his own way – there are probably no two ways which are exactly alike for reaching God. Few will follow that of Saint Dominic; for even Saint Paul, who despised his body, did not advise us to clothe ourselves in armor literally, but rather to arm ourselves in spirit:

“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” (Ephesians 6:11- 17) (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).

He is portrayed as a hermit scourging himself in the cold with a coat of mail nearby. Venerated at Fontevellana (Roeder).

MLA Citation

  • Katherine I Rabenstein. Saints of the Day, 1998. CatholicSaints.Info. 30 July 2020. Web. 8 August 2020. <>