History of St Dominic

St Dominic was born Domingo de Guzman in 1170 to a noble and very pious family in the village of Calaruega, north of Madrid, Spain.  From a very young age he was known to be a devout and studious boy, excelling at his studies, and deeply devoted to God.  After studying for seven years under his uncle, Archbishop Gonzalo de Aza, Dominic was sent to the University of Palencia at age 14. Immersed in the arts and theology, it is here that his fervour for academics and contemplation of the word of God took deep hold.  At age 24, Dominic was confirmed a priest and set about preaching – on foot – throughout Spain, France, and Italy.

Even before his birth, miraculous portents about Dominic's life were occurring.  While pregnant with Dominic, his mother dreamt that a small black and white dog leapt from her womb carrying a fiery torch.  Her local priest interpreted this dream to mean that she was about to give birth to a great preacher, who would take up black and white robes, would be tenacious in spreading the word of God far and wide, and would display a burning passion that would illuminate the world.

At his baptism, Dominic's Godmother was said to have seen a bright star shining on his forehead.  In many images later created in Dominic's likeness, we can observe that star.

Throughout his life, Dominic ignited passion in others and illuminated the word of God.  He established convents, monasteries, and places of contemplation, learning, and worship in his lifetime. In 1216 the Order of Dominicans, also known as the Order of Preachers, was established with the approval of Pope Honorius III.  Founded to preach the word of God, the scholastic rigour of the Order placed it at the forefront of intellectual life in the Middle Ages. This tradition has brought worldwide regard for the Dominicans as having produced many leading the​ologians and philosophers throughout its 800-year history.

The value of study endures as one of the pillars of Dominican life and which is today cherished worldwide by educational institutions established under Dominic's charism.

Of note in Dominic's history is the convent of San Sisto, in Rome, given to him in 1221 to establish a home for Dominican nuns.  San Sisto College, Carina, was established in 1961 in honour of Dominic and this convent and to continue the work of the Order.  

Known for miracles and spiritual visitations in his lifetime, it is said that Dominic was visited by the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1208 where she gave him the Rosary, which became the heart of the Dominican Order's prayerful life. The Dominicans are attributed for popularising and spreading the Rosary.  

Dominic died in Bologna, Italy, in 1221 and was canonised by Pope Gregory IX in 1234.  Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of students across the world have been educated under the charism of St Dominic since that time.