To preach the word to the world

The feast day of Saint Dominic de Guzman is celebrated on 8 August every year in the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Church, but before 1969, the celebrations were held on 4 August.

Devotion to Saint Dominic is done by the Order of Preachers, popularly known as the Dominicans.

The Dominican Order is a religious order, consisting of priests, nuns, sisters and lay people. It is best known for its commitment to holistic education and the pursuit of truth (Veritas). Dominicans are preachers, meaning they spread the gospel through words and actions.

Headed by a Master of the Order as successor of Saint Dominic, members of the Order, who are referred to as Dominicans, generally carry the letters OP after their names.

Dedicated to preaching, membership in the Order includes friars, nuns, active sisters and affiliated lay or secular Dominicans (formerly known as tertiaries, though recently there has been a growing number of associates who are unrelated to the tertiaries).

Saint Dominic’s life and ministry contributed to what the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Church has today. To oppose heresy during his time, in 1215 Saint Dominic founded the Order of Preachers, also known as the Dominicans. It is a mendicant order within the Roman Catholic Church, founded in Toulouse, France and was approved by Pope Honorius III via the papal bull “Religiosam Vitam” on 22 December 1216.

All Dominicans, whether Roman Catholics or Anglicans, are faithful to their motto, “Benedicere, Laudare, Praedicare (to pray, to bless, and to preach,” as they grow out of a basic commitment to apostolic ministry. Aside from study, community life is a priority for Dominicans.

The Dominicans devote much time in studying as they prepare themselves to proclaim the word of God by preaching, teaching and example, while they are sustained by life in common.

Founded to preach the Gospel and to oppose heresy, the teaching activity of the Dominicans and its scholastic organization placed the Preachers in the forefront of the intellectual life of the Middle Ages.

That is the reason why Dominicans are famous due to their intellectual tradition, having produced many leading theologians and philosophers. Mary Magdalene and Catherine of Siena are the co-patronesses of the Order.

Dominic founded the Dominican Order at a time when men of God were no longer expected to stay behind the walls of a cloister. Dominic established the Order of Preachers following the rule of life set forth by Saint Augustine. There were also statutes to govern the life of the friars, including the Primitive Constitution. The founding documents establish that the Order of Preachers was founded for two purposes: Preaching and the salvation of souls.

In England and other countries, the Dominican friars are referred to as Black Friars because of the black cappa or cloak they wear over their white religious habits. Dominicans were “Black friars,” as opposed to “White friars” (i.e., Carmelites) or “Grey friars” (i.e., Franciscans). They are also distinct from the “Austin friars” (i.e., Augustinian Friars) who wear a similar habit.

The Dominican Order conducts an ongoing search for truth through a dialogue between faith and reason, scripture and tradition, nature and grace, the learning of the past and the discoveries of the present — all in service of pursuing a fuller life and contributing to the common good.

The spread of the rosary, a Marian devotion, is attributed to the preaching of Dominic. For centuries, the rosary has been at the heart of the Dominican Order. Pope Pius XI stated, “The Rosary of Mary is the principle and foundation on which the very Order of Saint Dominic rests for making perfect the life of its members and obtaining the salvation of others.” And from then on, Dominicans have been instrumental in spreading the rosary and emphasizing the Catholic belief in the power of the rosary.

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