Dominic, Or Domingo,(called de Guzman since 1555), a saint of the Roman Catholic church, and founder of the order of preachers, or friars preachers, born in Calahorra, Old Castile, in 1170, died in Bologna, Aug. 4, 1221. His father's name was Felix. His mother, Juana de Aza, revered as a saint in Spain, placed him in his seventh year with his uncle the arch-priest of Gumiel de Izan, and at the end of his 14th sent him to the university of Palencia. At the age of 20 he lost his mother, commenced the study of theology and canon law, and in his 25th year was in priest's orders, teaching dogmatic theology and Scripture in the university, and creating a wonderful impression by his sermons. About this period he sold his furniture and books to relieve the poor during a famine, and offered himself in bondage to the Moors to redeem a Christian prisoner. In 1198 the bishop of Osma, Martin de Bazan, appointed him a canon of his cathedral, and promoted him to the dignity of sub-prior and archdeacon when he soon after reformed his chapter.
Diego de Azeves (or Azevedo), De Bazan's successor, chose Dominic as his associate, when charged in 1203 with negotiating the marriage of the heir of Castile with a princess of Lu-signan. In passing through southern France the ambassadors were grieved at the disorders prevalent among nobles and churchmen, and the dangers to the Catholic church from the spread of the Albigensian doctrines. Dominic was entertained in Toulouse by a leading Catharist, who questioned him on their doctrinal differences, and acknowledged on the spot his own error. This, historians say, gave Dominic the first idea of founding a society of learned priests devoted exclusively to the work of preaching. The matrimonial negotiation having been happily concluded, the ambassadors were again despatched to escort the bride to Castile, but they only arrived in time to see her carried to her grave. This event, and what they had witnessed in their second journey through Languedoc, inspired the ambassadors with the resolution of trying in their own persons what preaching supported by a life of self-denial could effect to win back the Catharists, and rouse Christians of all classes to a sense of duty.
They proceeded to Rome, obtained the approval of Innocent III. with a two years' leave of absence for the bishop, and were soon back in Montpellier, where they met the legates commissioned to suppress heresy in the ecclesiastical province of Narbonne. These were Cistercian monks, living in great state, while the Catharists avoided all reprehensible display. The bishop forthwith dismissed his retinue, induced the legates to do likewise, placed himself at their head, and they all set out on foot for Narbonne and Toulouse. They preached to the Catholics in the churches, and held conferences with the Albigenses in their houses. At Caraman, near Toulouse, they made a number of conversions; in Beziers, where the Catharists were in a majority, Dominic's eloquence attracted large multitudes, but produced no effect otherwise; in Carcassonne, where the bishop of the city had been exiled, they met with insult; and, turning once more toward Toulouse, they stopped at Fanjaux for eight days. There occurred an event much dwelt upon by Dominic's early biographers. In a public conference a doctrinal exposition was drawn up on both sides, and presented to the Catharists chosen to preside.
Unable to agree, both manuscripts were submitted to the test of fire, Dominic's remaining, as it is said, untouched by the flames. It was at Fanjaux that he conceived the project of erecting a monastery for the education of daughters of poor but noble parents, who were the object of Catharist proselytism. Foulques, just appointed bishop of Toulouse, gave him for that purpose the church of Notre Dame de Prouille, near which a monastery was begun at once, and soon became one of the educational centres of France. In the spring of 1207 this first series of missions was concluded by a two weeks' conference at Montreal, near Prouille, when the test of fire was again resorted to, and 150 persons abjured the Catharist doctrines. The bishop of Osma had now to return to his diocese, leaving Dominic at the head of the missionaries. His death and the murder of Peter de Castelnau occurring almost simultaneously, Dominic saw himself forsaken by all but a few secular priests just as the crusade against the Albigenses commenced.
He remained with his little band in the neighborhood, watching, says the early biographer, over his rising establishment of Prouille, and increasing his efforts to gain or to retain the good opinion of the Albigenses. For seven years was the land wasted by religious and civil war. Dominic has often been represented as one of the instigators of this bloody strife, but, as appears, unjustly. He and his companions ceased not to preach to the afflicted populations, and to terrify into humanity the swarms of freebooters (routiers) who infested the country. He is only mentioned once in the authentic acts of this war, as having been seen praying in the church of Muret on Sept. 13, 1213, while the battle was going on outside between the forces of De Montfort and the king of Aragon. Dietrich of Apolda, his earliest historian and almost his contemporary, says of him during these years, "He continued to combat heresy by his discourses, his examples, his miracles." Another writer of the epoch mentions his name once in connection with the punishment of heretics, and it is to tell how Dominic saved one poor wretch from the stake.
From the records of that period we gather that during this whole war Dominic never ceased to labor in Languedoc; that he was respected by the leaders on both sides; that (save in the single instance mentioned above) the authentic acts do not speak of him; he is named in no letter sent to Pome, in no letter coming from it, and in no official document published there concerning the war, the inquisition, or the punishment of Albigenses. The devotion of the rosary, established by him in those days, indicates an influence far from sanguinary. (See Rosary.) In 1215, at the fall of Toulouse, Dominic with his companions repaired thither. He had seen how little of religious pacification the crusade had achieved, and what seeds of hatred it left behind. His old idea of trying what an army of true priests could effect now returned. Foulques, the bishop of Toulouse, applauded it. Six of his fellow missionaries had resolved to follow him in realizing it. One of them, Pierre Cellani, a native of the city, appropriated his own house for their residence; and the bishop assigned them the church of St. Romain, with the sixth part of all the diocesan tithes for their support, appointing them at the same time "preachers in the diocese of Toulouse." Innocent III., solicited by the bishop and Dominic, encouraged the project, which was in accordance with the recommendations of the 18th Lateran council, but bade Dominic choose for his society one of the existing rules of monastic orders.
Hastening back to Toulouse, Dominic found 1G companions where he had left six, and took them with him to Prouille, where after much deliberation they adopted the rule of St. Augustine, modified in accordance with their proposed mode of life. On Dec. 22, 1216, two separate bulls of Honorius III. approved and confirmed the new society; and a third, issued in the follow-ing January, is addressed to them as "preachers in the country of Toulouse," and "preachers" has been their official title ever since. Dominic was at the same time appointed magister sacri palatii (master of the sacred palace), that is, theologian and spiritual director of the pontifical household. On Aug. 15,1217, Dominic and his brethren recited their solemn religious vows in the church of Prouille before a vast concourse of persons of every rank. After the ceremony he proceeded to carry out his design of taking possession of the three great centres of learning, Paris, Bologna, and Rome. After making his brethren elect a superior general to serve in his absence, he set out for Rome on foot and with a single companion, seven of* the remaining religious being despatched the same day to Paris. On Dominic's arrival in Rome, the pope assigned to him the vacant church and ruinous cloister of San Sisto on the Coelian hill.
Dominic, besides preaching frequently to the papal household, preached also in every church in Rome, sometimes delivering several discourses daily. By order of the pope he reformed at this time the female monasteries of Rome, making the cloistered nuns observe a strict reclusion, and giving them the rule and habit of St. Augustine. This was the origin of the Dominican nuns. At this time also he founded a "tertiary order" or "third order of penitence," composed of persons of both sexes and all ranks of life, bound by no vows, nor required to quit their secular occupations and domestic duties, but taking on themselves the obligation of avoiding worldly pleasures and vanities, of repairing the wrongs they had committed, of being true and just in all their dealings, and of practising charity according to their means. The establishment of San Sisto was soon given up to the Dominican nuns, and the rapidly increasing community of friars was transferred by the pope to Santa Sabina on the Aventine, where his own palace was.
The flower of the nobility and priesthood now demanded admission to the new order; and among the postulants were Hyacinth and Ceslas Odrowaz, since canonized, nephews to the high chancellor of Poland, and Reginald, dean of the chapter of Orleans and doctor of canon law in the university of Paris, whose eloquence and learning were chiefly instrumental in establishing the friars preachers in Bologna. In the autumn of 1218 Dominic, after visiting Languedoc, where the existence of his establishments was threatened, founded a convent in Madrid, and another in Segovia, which became the Dominican centre in Spain. Thence, at the invitation of Blanche of Castile, he went to Paris, where he found the seven sent from Prouille increased to 30, and occupying at the Narbonne gate the church and hospital of St. Jacques, from which the Dominicans in France derived their denomination of Jacobins. After establishing houses in Limoges, Rheims, Poitiers, Metz, and Orleans, he set out for Bologna. On arriving there in the summer of 1219 he found that the church and convent of Mascarella, first given to his brethren, had been exchanged for the church and convent of St. Nicholas, which has been considered as the cradle of the Dominican order in Italy. Reginald's eloquence had taken the city and university by storm; the elite of the professors and students had entered the novitiate, and Dominic found a sufficient number to send to the chief cities of northern and central Italy to found houses there.
It was at his first arrival in Bologna that he tore in pieces a deed presented to him by a wealthy citizen of all his personal estates. He declared he wished to see his followers beg their bread rather than clog their usefulness by the possession of property. This love of poverty he extended to everything connected with his order, dwelling, furniture, and fare; he even banished from the churches all splendid vestments, and confined the use of silver and gold to the service of the altar. Dominic and Francis of Assisi met this year in Perugia, and the former proposed to unite into one body the two societies which they had founded, a proposal to which Francis would not listen. But both, when asked by Cardinal Ugolino, in whose house they met, if they would allow their sons to accept ecclesiastical preferments, replied that it would be the ruin of religious humility. Dominic was present in 1219 at the first general chapter of the Franciscans, and in 1220, at the first general chapter of the friars preachers, made the Franciscan legislation concerning religious poverty binding on all his followers.
The second general chapter was held in Bologna May 30, 1221. It was attested by numerous witnesses at his canonization, that in bidding farewell to the professors and students of Bologna, he predicted he should cease to be among the living before the 15th of August following. Acting on this presentiment, he went to Venice to recommend his order to Cardinal Ugolino, afterward Pope Gregory 1X.; and after visiting some of his followers elsewhere he arrived in Bologna July 31, 1221, wayworn and faint. He persisted in attending the midnight service with the community, and on retiring to his cell was seized with a violent fever accompanied with dysentery. He refused to accept a bed offered to him, but lay on a sack filled with wool. On the morning of Aug. 4 he warned those around him that the end was at hand. They laid him, at his request, on sackcloth and ashes, where he received the sacraments of the dying, pronounced a fervent blessing on his children far and near, and breathed his last as noon was about to strike. - The life of Dominic has been written, among many others, by Dietrich of Apolda and several other ecclesiastical writers of the 13th century; by Castillo (Madrid, 1584), Nicholas Janssen (Antwerp, 1622), Touron (Paris, 1739), and Lacordaire (1840, 1844, and 1858). See also Saint Dominique et les Dominicains, by Elme Marie Caro (Paris, 1853); the Bolland-ists, under date of Aug. 6; and the first volume of Mamachi's Annales Ordinis Proedica-torum (Rome, 1756).