Symbols of St.Dominc

The future founder of the Order of Preachers, known as the Dominicans, was born at Calaruega in Spain, not far from Burgos. His parents were Felix Guzman and Giovanna, who was later proclaimed a blessed. Before he was born, his mother had a vision of carrying in her womb a little dog which, after emerging from the womb, seemed to set the whole world on fire with a torch held in its mouth; Then his godmother had a vision of the child with a star shining from his forehead and shedding light over the entire world.
 
From the time he was a little boy he despised all luxuries and slept on the bare ground. He was educated first by an uncle who was a priest; he then studied in the best schools of the liberal arts in Palencia; finally, he studied theology for four years. Ever since his very young years he loved poverty and the poor; later, he aided them by founding a hos­pice and selling his own very valuable manuscripts. After ordination at Osma he spent some years as a contemplative. In 1203-1205 he accompanied his bishop, Diego, on a long journey through Europe and was struck by the spread of heresy, which at that time was re­sisted by means of excommunications and confiscations. He observed how the people were attracted by the moral lives of the heretics and how the ignorant clergy were unable to de­fend the faith.
 
Dominic then devoted himself to preaching, going from city to city, begging for his daily food, debating with heretics, and strengthening the faithful. This was a new manner of life and was approved by Pope Innocent III in 1206. For about ten years Dominic was almost alone in carrying on the work; then in 1215, after assembling some fellow workers, he sub­mitted to Innocent III a plan for a new Order of Preachers. The approval came from Pope Honorius III in 1216. The order had a representative form of government, in which the chapter had supreme authority. Furthermore, he chose to send his brothers chiefly to uni­versities, in order that Christianity might be seen as a source of culture. He also wanted his men to live on daily alms, and he constantly saw his trust in God confirmed. He had a spe­cial affection for Bologna, the seat of a great university, and held the first general chapter of the order there. There, too, he died, worn out by the labor of constant preaching, and there his relics are preserved; he was canonized in 1234.
 
Dominic was very devoted to the Virgin; to him is owed the great spread of the rosary, the practice of which he set down. As a result, in his iconography we find the Virgin in the act of giving him the rosary. Many stories of miracles have been handed down: the most fa­mous show up in his iconography. For example, in Tolosa Dominic’s works were subjected to a test: the flames spared his books and burned up those of the Albigensians; he raised to life a young man, Napoleon Orsini, who had fallen from a horse. In Bologna the convent lacked food; Dominic nevertheless offered praise and blessing before eating, and two an­gels came in carrying two baskets of bread and dried figs.
 
Dominic gave the Magi as a model for the brothers who were studying: “you ought to worship the (God-man as the devout royal Magi did”; this subject is never missing from Do­minican churches. His brother preachers are called “Dominicans” in the sense of “belong­ing to Dominic," but it was also said that Dominic himself, like all of his followers, was Domini canis, because a preacher is a “dog of the Lord," baying at the demons who are thieves of souls.
 
Dominic is a patron of Tolosa where he preached,of Calaruega where he was bom, of Naples where he preached, and of Bologna where he died. He is patron of the Dominicans, of orators and preachers generally, and of seamstresses and tailors.
 
Because he saved some pilgrims who were about to drown in the Garonne, he is invoked against drowning.
 
He was very devoted to the Virgin; it was said that in 1530 Our Lady of the Rosary appeared to a Dominican and showed him how St. Dominic should be depicted holding a lily and a book bound in red. In the basilica of St. Dominic in Bologna there exists a recon­struction of his head, based on anthropometric measurements of his skull. He is depicted with a tonsure and sometimes with a beard. His principal attributes, in addition to the Do­minican habit, are the dog with the torch or candle, the star on his forehead, the lily, and a book.
 
Other attributes are the Virgin giving him the rosary and an angel serving him.