Dominic de Guzman was born in Caleruega (Spain) in 1170. His parents are Felix de Guzman and Juana de Aza. At the age of 14, he studied in the University of Palencia, particularly in the field of theology.
In 1191, he became a canon in the Chapter of Osma where he stayed for about 10 years, and greatly influenced his consequent shaping of the Order of Preachers which is balancing of eternal preaching and internal contemplation: share the fruits of what we contemplated.
In 1204, it was the first time for him to leave Spain, accompanying his bishop, Diego de Acebes, to arrange the marriage of Prince Ferdinand, and it is also his first time to contact the heresy (Albigenses) in Southern France.
From 1205 to 1215, Dominic remained in Southern France preaching against the heresy with Diego de Acedes, his bishop, but the fruits were not evident. Therefore, the idea of forming an Order was formulating in the Saint’s mind. In 1215, Dominic went to Rome to present to Pope Innocent III, his foundational project for approval. According to the Saint’s experience that defending the truth is a challenging task that requires a collective and lasting force, thus a way of community life is indispensable to serve needs of the Church.
On December 22, 1216, Pope Honorius III confirmed the Order’s existence, thus the New Order was born to defend the truth and combat the heresy. He was the first Master of the Order which all the brothers recommended and sending a primordial group of friars to study in various universities which is vital to seek and defend the truth.
Besides having an appreciation for the theology and a passion for preaching, Dominic possessed a genius for organization. He did not author any books, but he did leave a great legacy to his brothers, a basic constitution that has served well for eight hundred years. Because of its clarity and flexibility, the Dominicans have endured struggles and trials throughout the past 8 centuries.
A sense of mission compelled him to disperse his brothers to study the truth; a sense of compassion made him, even sell his most precious books to the poor; a sense of tenderness let him always be ready to take care of the needs of the brothers. Dominic was a man who matured in human values and always desired the salvation of all humanity. Let us heed the murmuring sound of the Spirit, and share the vision and mission of St. Dominic in today’s world.
He died in 1221 and was canonized by Pope Gregory IX in 1234.
Dominic was truly a man of God and of the Church. His zeal to preach the risen Lord burnt within his heart as he always carried either the Gospel of Matthew or the Letters of Paul with him. His vision to form a group of preachers was enlightened by the primitive apostolic communities whose task was to preach the Gospel to the world. Therefore, enthusiasm to preach the Good News serves the basic criteria of discerning one’s calling to be a Dominican. (By Rev. Fr. Gregory Zhang Wen, OP)