Dominic, inspired by his love of God and neighbor, sought the permission of the Holy Father to combat the heresy of Catharism. Joined by the Bishop of Osma and a small group of priests, he received a mandate from Pope Innocent III in 1205 to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the salvation of souls.
Committed to preaching the Word of God
By the end of 1215, Dominic and roughly 15 brother clerics had set up a base of operations at the church of Saint Romain in Toulouse, France. The brethren professed themselves to the Rule of Saint Augustine and committed their lives to preaching the Word of God, supported by prayer, study, and contemplation. Essential to the brothers’ success was their vowed religious life based on the evangelical counsels of poverty and chastity, both of which were subsumed under a single vow of obedience.
Dominic and his brothers held public debates with the Cathars throughout Toulouse. Blessed Jordan of Saxony, the second Master of the Order, often recounted a story of one of these debates. According to Bl. Jordan, a group of judges presiding over a dispute between Dominic and a Cathar were unable to determine a winner. As a solution, they sought recourse to the judgment of God by throwing both Dominic’s sacred text and the text of the Cathar into an open fire. Dominic’s book never caught fire, even after being tossed into the flames three times, while the Cathar's book was burned immediately.
"Before meeting the Dominicans I had no real thirst to seek the Truth, and now seeking the Truth has become my life's work."
Bayli, Deming, WA
"The Dominicans preach the Gospel of our Lord Jesus powerfully and knowledgeably. I need this! And so does the Church and the world!"
Keith, Coeur d'Alene, ID
"I've greatly appreciated the service of Dominicans through their orthodox defense of the faith, inspiring preaching, and ministry at parishes and on university campuses."
Joe, San Diego, CA
"The Dominicans have helped us immensely in our spiritual growth with their dedication...to praise, to bless, and to preach [the Gospel]."
Elpidio and Maria, Vallejo, CA
Confirmation of the Order
Pope Honorius III confirmed the foundation of the Order of Preachers in 1216. Wasting little time, Dominic began sending his brothers out in groups of two throughout Spain, France, and Italy to preach and to establish new priories that would attract more brothers to his preaching mission. At the end of Dominic’s life in 1221, the Order of Preachers had established five provinces and at least 20 priories.
The brethren who knew Dominic reported that while he was virtually always joyful and sociable with others, he lived a life mostly immersed in the scriptures when he wasn’t preaching. He was known as a man who spoke only to God or about God. His brethren reported that he slept little, preferring to spend his nights praying in the chapel.
At the time of his death, Dominic wished to be buried under the feet of his brothers at the convent of Saint Nicholas in Bologna. Numerous miracles are reported to have occurred at the site of his tomb. The Order of Preachers spread far beyond Spain and France after Dominic’s death, and is credited with extinguishing the Catharist heresy from medieval Europe. Nearly 800 years later, Dominicans imitate their founder by preaching the true Catholic faith for the salvation of souls. Saint Dominic, pray for us.
Saint Dominic: The Grace of the Word by Fr. Guy Bedouelle, O.P.