Order Of Preachers Dominicans, Or Friars Preachers (Lat. Fratres Proedicatores; Fr. Freres-Precheurs), a Roman Catholic monastic order, founded by St. Dominic. (See Dominic.) When in 1215 Dominic and his six companions took up their abode in Toulouse, in the house of Pierre Cellani, they had agreed to wear the habit and follow temporarily the rule of the canons regular of St. Augustine. This rule and habit had been given by St. Norbert, in 1121, to the community founded by him at Premon-tre, which spread so rapidly throughout Europe. St. Norbert aimed at uniting the observances of monastic life with the office of preaching and the cure of souls. To the Au-gustinian rule, as it existed before him, he added several regulations tending to stricter poverty and greater severity of life. The rule of St. Norbert, so modified as to make it still more austere, was that which Dominic and his companions deliberately chose in Prouille in 1216, and which was approved by Honorius III. in his two bulls of Dec. 22 of the same year. The new features given by St. Dominic to the rule of Premontr6 may be thus described : 1. As the order of preachers has for its object the salvation of souls by preaching and other priestly ministrations, as well as by the example of a holy life in the preacher, the superior of every convent has discretionary power to dispense from the common rules and observances, which may occasionally prove obstacles to the end in view.
Thus, where fasting or abstinence is incompatible with preaching, teaching in public, necessary study, or the fatigues of a missionary life, the superior is empowered to grant a relaxation; the rule of silence in the interior of the monastery is dispensed with when strangers apply for spiritual instruction or comfort; and no unnecessary time must be given to the recitation of the divine office in the church, or the performance of church ceremonies, when the duty of preaching and careful preparation for it are more urgent. 2. Each convent is governed by a "conventual prior;" each province, composed of a certain number of convents within a definite territory, by a "provincial prior;" and the whole order by a "master general " (magister genera-lis), called simply " general." Every charge, from the highest to the lowest, is elective. The conventual prior is chosen for three years by the priests in each convent who are six years professed; the provincial prior is chosen for four years by the conventual priors, former provincial priors residing in the province, functionaries called fellows (socii) of the provincial, chosen one by the members of each convent, and the priests appointed to the office of "preachers general;" the master general is elected every six years by the provincial priors, diffinitores chosen one by each province, who accompany the provincial to the general chapter, fathers enjoying the dignity of masters in theology, and former masters general.
On the other hand, the general confirms the election of the provincials, and the provincials that of the conventual priors. General chapters, held at short intervals, control the administration of the general; provincial chapters serve as a check upon the provincial prior; while in each convent a council assists the prior in his government of the house. This economy, equally removed from oppression and from license, is favorable to manly independence and natural freedom of action, and has preserved the order of preachers from the divisions which have rent asunder the Franciscans. It was the aim of their founder that strict poverty should be the corner stone of the edifice he was rearing; hence the order was to accept no property that needed to be managed, but only the income derived from it. To this rule the Dominicans remained faithful until the multiplication of their houses, the apparent necessities of the times, the solicitations of princes and bishops, the authority and even the command of popes, gradually led them to modify and relax the stringency of the original legislation on the holding of property. In the first years of their existence their extreme poverty contributed not a little to their wonderful growth in numbers, efficiency, and influence.
They had early taken possession of Rome and Bologna, where their masters in theology, philosophy, and canon law became the controlling intellectual power; and from these great centres they spread through all the chief towns of Italy. In Paris they, as well as the Franciscans, met from the very commencement with nothing but disfavor and opposition on the part of the university. In 1228 they obtained one professorship, and in 1230 a second. The popularity which their lectures enjoyed, and the superiority attributed to them by the public, excited even at that early period fierce denunciations against the "begging preachers and friars." But, besides the two public chairs in the university thus filled by the Dominicans, there were a considerable number of others teaching in the schools of Paris; for it was the rule that no one should receive a degree of "master of arts " who had not taught for three years under the direction of the Parisian faculties. The Franciscans, too, were at that time neither less ambitious of intellectual preeminence, nor less successful, nor less numerous in the schools of Paris. So, besides the vehement emulation which existed between the two new mendicant orders, there arose a bitter hatred against both among the secular professors of the university.
After many bickerings, this feeling broke out into a scandalous quarrel in 1252, on the occasion of a refusal by the friars to suspend their courses in conformity with the university rules. The friars and their disciples by public decree were for ever excluded from all university honors, and the faculty went so far as to bind both professors and students by oath to maintain this exclusion. King and pope had to interfere; and it was only in 1260 that a compromise was effected which was most oppressive to the Dominicans. Still the two great orders persisted in sending to Paris their most renowned doctors and most promising scholars; and then began the intellectual contest bet ween the two rival schools of philosophy and theology, represented by Dominicans and Franciscans, which is the history of the European mind during the middle ages. Just as the quarrel with the university broke out Albertus Magnus had come to teach in Paris, bringing with him his disciple Thomas Aquinas, and to these two greatest names among the Dominicans was soon added Vincent of Beauvais. On the side of the Franciscans were found Roger Bacon, Alexander of Hales, John Duns Scotus, and St. Bonaventura. The theological supremacy which the teaching of Thomas Aquinas soon gave to the friars preachers, together with the undisputed control exercised by them in the schools of Bologna, and the official position as supreme theological and literary censors held in Rome by the "masters of the sacred palace," continued down to the time of the Jesuits to exercise decided influence over the intellectual life of Europe. - Their missionary activity meanwhile kept pace with their mental culture.
When the second general chapter of the order was held in Bologna in 1221, under St. Dominic himself, 60 conventual establishments were already in existence. The field over which their labors actually or prospectively extended was mapped out into eight provinces, among which were England and Hungary; and before the assembly dispersed, Dominic despatched missionaries to take possession of these two kingdoms. Gilbert de Frassinet with 12 companions soon presented himself to the archbishop of Canterbury, who sent them to labor in Oxford, where they built a chapel in honor of Our Lady, and founded schools called " St. Edward's schools," from the parish in which they were situated. Robert Grosseteste, bishop of Lincoln, was so pleased with the new comers that he asked the general of the order to send him a Dominican as a coadjutor. Not only bishops, jealous for the salvation of their flock, but princes such as Louis IX. of France, careful of the welfare of their subjects, eagerly sought to have near them men who could enlighten the multitude by their doctrinal expositions and edify them by a blameless life.
This was the need of the age, pressed on the attention of bishops by the last council of the Lateran. They therefore spread rapidly, and, as Neander remarks, their advent was hailed everywhere as a benefit, among the poorer classes especially, to whose wants they ministered, and whose poverty and privations they willingly shared. Carrying out the oft expressed wish of their founder, they also crossed over into Asia, where they did much both' among the Moham-medans and eastern schismatics. In 1233 they were appointed conjointly with the Franciscans to carry out the new rules of the inquisition in France. Though this tribunal never exercised permanent authority outside of Lan-guedoc, the connection of the mendicant orders with it became a principal cause of unpopularity in the rest of France. The use which the court of Rome made of the friars in collecting moneys added much to these commencements of disfavor; while the ministrations for which they were called into the houses of the great made their enemies say they were afraid to reprove princes and prelates for their misdeeds. In 1245 occurred their first official departure from the rigorous poverty which had hitherto attracted many to the order of Dominic; they were authorized by the holy see to accept donations and legacies.
In 1277 the order had 35 convents for men in Spain, 52 in France, 32 in Tuscany, 46 in Lombardy, 53 in Germany, 36 in Poland, 28 in Denmark, and 40 in England, besides some in other countries, and a large number of nunneries. In 1278 the convents amounted to 417; and the number went on increasing until the reformation, when they lost upward of 400 establishments in the Protestant countries. In the 15th century the Dominicans were chosen to preside over the Spanish inquisition, when that tribunal became a state establishment. Under Philip II. and his successors, although ecclesiastics had but little to do with the working of that institution, the odium created by such men as Torquemada attached to the Dominicans in public estimation. With the rise of Jesuits about 1543 came a new era of rivalry and intellectual activity for the old monastic orders. In every centre of civilization in the old world, and on every field of missionary duty in the East and West, Jesuits and Dominicans vied with each other in learning and zeal. The latter had followed Albuquerque and his Portuguese to the East Indies, where they had founded everywhere flourishing missions; and there Francis Xavier found them at work when he began his career some 40 years later.
The Dominicans followed in like manner the Spaniards and Portuguese to America. From 1503 to 1616 no fewer than 16 "expeditions" were sent by the Dominicans to the Antilles and all parts of North and South America, each expedition made up of a large number of religious; besides which small bands of missionaries were continually crossing the ocean to fill up the voids caused by death, etc. After the example of Las Casas, the friars preachers were everywhere the benefactors of the native races, and their protectors against European brutality. - In the middle of the last century the order possessed upward of 1,000 convents, distributed into 45 provinces, 11 of the latter being out of Europe. By the French revolution they lost all their establishments in France and Belgium, and during the reign of Napoleon I. • nearly all their convents in Germany, and very many in Italy. Three convents are allowed at this time (August, 1873) to remain open in Rome. Elsewhere throughout the Italian peninsula they are suppressed by law.
In Bologna, the cradle of the order, three priests and two lay brothers are permitted to live in a private house; the grand old convent of St. Nicholas is shut up, the splendid church with all its treasures of art is ignored as a place of worship, and a few religious who still cling to the memories of the place are allowed to visit it daily, and see that no harm befall its monuments. In the German empire the recent law suppressing the Jesuits makes no mention of the friars preachers. In France the order was restored by Lacordaire under Louis Philippe. Several houses were established by him, among them a flourishing college at Soreze, and another at Arcueil, near Paris, some of whose professors and pupils were massacred by the communists, May 19, 1870. There are at present two provinces of the order in France and one in Belgium. In England there are five Dominican convents, and in Ireland 12 with about 50 priests. In Spain, Portugal, and Russian Poland they have ceased to exist. In the Austrian empire they are still tolerated. In the United States there are eight houses of the order, six east of the Rocky mountains and two in the Pacific states, numbering in all 70 priests.
In Spanish and Portuguese America the Dominicans lead a precarious existence, constantly exposed to the political caprices of the parties in power. In 1872 they were expelled from Guatemala. In spite of these adverse circumstances, the Dominicans still maintain their missionary establishments in European Turkey, Asia Minor, Armenia, India, China, and Anam. Eastern Anam had at the beginning of this century 25 convents of native nuns, numbering some GOO inmates. In spite of the persecutions which have repeatedly dispersed and sometimes decimated them, these establishments, protected by France, are beginning to flourish anew. Various attempts have been made to restore the order to the rigor of its pristine observance; among them one in the beginning of the 17th century, by Pere Michaelis, provincial of Toulouse, which so far succeeded that in 1608 Pope Paul V. erected the reformed convents into an independent congregation, governed by a vicar general. In 1650 Pere Le Quien endeavored to push this reformatory movement still further; he established six convents in Provence and the comtat Venaissin, which embraced the primitive rule in all its rigor.
When Pius IX. announced (June 19, 1847) his intention of reforming the monastic orders, Lacordaire and his French Dominicans were among the first to encourage him and to accept the proposed change; it was a Frenchman, Pere Jeandel, who was appointed vicar general by the pope when he suspended for a time the authority of the general chapter. Since then the work of reform has been carried on incessantly, the calamities which have befallen the order making it easier for the true-hearted among its members to embrace, as their assured pledge of future usefulness, the high abnegation of their founder. - The influence exercised by the order of preachers on the schools of the middle ages and on the whole of European society for several centuries cannot be exaggerated. It has given to the whole world such men as Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas, Vincent of Beauvais, Master Eckard, John Tauler, Henry Suso, Savonarola, Las Casas, Vincent Ferrer, and a host of other distinguished names; and in our own day the friars preachers have seen their ancient glory revive in Lacordaire, and in Monsabre, who now fills his place in Notre Dame de Paris; as well as in Father Thomas Burke, who in 1872-'3 traversed the United States, thrilling everywhere by his eloquence vast assemblages of his countrymen.
It has given to the church a host of bishops and archbishops, 66* cardinals, and four popes, Innocent V., Benedict XL, Pius V., and Benedict XIII. The influence of the order on the fine arts has exceeded that of all others. "The Dominicans," says Mrs. Jameson, "have produced two of the most excellent painters who have drawn their inspirations from religious influences, Angelico da Fiesole and Bartolom-meo della Porta," called II Frate in the schools. Among countless monuments of painting and sculpture executed for their former monasteries and churches, is the famous "Last Supper" by Da Vinci, in Sta. Maria delle Grazie in Milan. As to the Dominican nuns, the house founded in Prouille by St. Dominic, and which afterward adopted his rule and habit, became the parent of many similar institutions throughout France. In Rome the Dominican nuns, and the "third order" established by Dominic, spread through Italy. The nuns however did not long maintain the original severity of their rule. They shared also, in France, in the various attempts at reform made by the monks.
At present they have convents in France, Belgium, Austria, Bavaria, Switzerland, in the British empire and some of its colonics, as well as in North and South America. - See Al-tamura's Bibliotheca Dominicana (fol., Rome. 1677); Castillo's Historia, general de Santo Domingo y de su orden de predicadores (2 vols. fol.. Madrid, 1584-'94; 2d ed.,5 vols, fol., Val-ladolid, 1612-'21); Touron, Histoire des homines illustres de l'ordre de Saint Dominique (6 vols. fol., Paris, 1743); and Riboll, Bulla-rium Ordinis FF. Pradicatorum (8 vols, fol., Rome, 1729-'40).