San Domenico was born in Spain in 1170, in a small village in Castile, in one of the most difficult periods of the church in which groups of preachers all over Europe asked the church to return to a more sober lifestyle and asked to take care of the needy.
Saint Dominic is active in the same period as Saint Francis, who was born in 1181 and died in 1226, and both founded their orders. Saint Francis founded the Order of Friars Minor (better known as the Franciscan Order) and Saint Dominic founded the Order of Preachers.
Even Domenico is good-looking and stately in his ways just like Francesco. The stories of Cecilia Cesarini’s time describe it to us as a man with a particular charm.
He began religious schools at 15 thanks to his uncle, a priest, initially moving within the Order of the Augustinians who had made their life mission to preserve and rediscover the culture erased by the fall of the Roman Empire.
At one point he left with the Bishop of Osma on a trip to northern Europe where various revolts against the church, such as the Cathars, were taking place. They were called heretics and denied the figure of Jesus as the incarnation of the son of God.
After converting a catharist, St. Dominic decides that this is his mission of life: to become a missionary and to convert the populations of northern Europe. With this activity that was very useful to the church, Pope Innocent III in 1206 urged him to continue even after the death of the bishop he was following.
In 1212 he had an apparition of the Madonna while he was in France and for this in his life and in his order the figure of the Madonna will have a special role.
From 1215 other people joined his activity admiring his example, his strength and his words and in 1216 Pope Honorius III approved the formation of his ‘Order of Friar Preachers’. Honorius III is the Pope who also approved the Rule of Saint Francis putting an end to a contrast between the papacy and the groups of friars who professed a reform of the church to make it more humble and close to the people.
The group of St. Dominic preaches in a new way, an itinerant preaching linked to charity and characterized by a life of prayer and poverty. They were called ‘white friars’ for the devotion to the Madonna. Domenico dies in Bologna in a cell of one of the 60 monasteries he had founded. Pope Gregory IX will make it holy in 1234.
His figure assumed such a positive example that Dante mentions it in canto XII of Paradiso. Among the particular persons of his order we mention St. Thomas Aquinas, Savoranola, St. Pius V and Garrigou-Lagrange.
A cloud of its denigrators cites the order in association with the Inquisition because Pope Gregory IX, the pope who sanctified it, appointed some Dominican friars to head the Inquisition tribunals.
San Domenico is the patron saint of astronomers and the patron saint of Bologna and Gorga, a charming village in the Lepini Mountains.