Adrian Dominican Sisters share in the tradition of the international Dominican
order known as the Order of Preachers, founded by St. Dominic Guzman in
the 13th century in France. Dominic was born of wealthy Spanish nobility.
His mother was Blessed Joan of Aza who, when pregnant, had a vision that
her unborn child was a dog who would set the world on fire with a torch
it carried in its mouth. A dog bearing a torch in its mouth became a symbol
of Dominic for the Dominicans. When he was 26, Dominic became one of the
canon regulars who formed the cathedral chapter at Osma. While traveling
through southern France with his bishop, Diego of Osma, Dominic came upon
a population almost entirely enslaved by the dualistic heresy known as
Albigensianism. Albigensians, also known as the Cathari, taught a doctrine
of the evil of created matter denying the goodness of God's creation.
embraced a life of poverty, prayer and study which appealed to the heretics,
through which he was able to preach the truth of God's word and help many
to return to the Catholic faith. Among the Albigensian heretics were women
who were attracted to Dominic's message, as well as other women in southern
France who desired to lead lives of prayer and dedication to God. Dominic
formed the first monastery of contemplative nuns in Prouille in 1206.
that preaching should be supported by study so that the preached word
would not be an empty word; by community, where the preacher found support
and challenge; by a life of contemplation on the Gospel message; and by
ministry, especially with those most in need on the margins of society.
Study, community, prayer and ministry continue to be the four pillars
of Dominican life today.
1215, Dominic was able to establish his headquarters in Toulouse, and
the idea of an order of preachers began to take shape: a body of highly
trained priests on a monastic basis, bound by vows with emphasis on poverty,
but devoted to the active work of preaching and teaching anywhere and
everywhere. The enterprise was formally approved at Rome in 1216, and
in the following year the founder sent 11 of his brothers, over half at
that time, to the University of Paris and to Spain. He himself established
friaries at Bologna and elsewhere in Italy, and traveled tirelessly to
superintend the nascent order, preaching as he went.
was of medium height, of slight build, with a beautiful face, slightly
ruddy complexion, and slightly red hair and beard. His eyes were beautiful.
There was a kind of radiance about his forehead and between his eyebrows,
which attracted everyone to respect and love him. He was always cheerful
and happy, except when he was moved to compassion by any kind of suffering
on the part of his neighbor. Dominic had long, beautiful hands, and a
powerful, beautiful, resonant voice. He never went bald, but had a complete
ring of hair around his tonsure, with just a sprinkling of gray. From
The Miracles of St. Dominic, dictated by Blessed Cecilia (1202-1290).
Source: Early Dominicans: Selected Writings (Paulist, l982), edited
by Simon Tugwell, OP.