Dominic and Francis lived at the same time, and both founded an order of preachers—the Dominicans and the Franciscans. Francis grew up amid great wealth, repudiated it all, and established an order stressing manual labor and preaching. Dominic grew up in libraries and study cells, embraced it all, and founded an order stressing study and preaching.
Dominic was born in 1170 in Spain. His mother, Juana, raised him until he reached seven, then he was passed to the priestly instruction of his uncle. The young man loved his studies, especially philosophy and theology. In 1202, while accompanying a Spanish bishop to France on a mission to secure a wife for a Spanish prince, he was greatly moved by the need he saw. Theology in France was weak, doctrine was faulty, and heresy was rampant.
Dominic organized a preaching tour especially aimed at converting those who had fallen into error. Death threats and danger imperiled him on every side, but he pressed on, using persuasion rather than persecution to convert the heretics. By 1215 he was recruiting other preachers to the task. The order quickly took root in Paris, Bologna, Rome, Madrid, and Seville. Dominican preachers went into Germany where chapters were established in Cologne, Worms, Strasburg, and Basel. In 1221 the order was introduced into England and settled in Oxford.
Dominic preached throughout Europe until he fell ill and returned to Bologna where he died on August 6, 1221. He was canonized on July 13, 1234. At the time of his death, his preaching friars had 60 monasteries scattered from England to Eastern Europe.
But even a good cause can take a wrong turn. The symbol of the Dominicans eventually became a watchdog carrying a flaming torch—the Domini Canes. Their zeal for orthodoxy led to their being named chief agents of the Inquisition. They loaded up suspected heretics by the wagonful and took them to grim dungeons to be tortured. The devil, having created the disease of heresy, managed also to corrupt the cure.
Don’t let the errors of evil people lead you down the wrong path and make you lose your balance. Let the wonderful kindness and the understanding that come from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ help you to keep on growing. Praise Jesus now and forever! Amen. (2 Peter 3:17b,18)
Robert J. Morgan, On This Day : 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). July 13.