Saints and Holy People

Find out about their lives and how they changed the world

Saint Dominic (1170–1221)

Saint Dominic (1170–1221)

Patron saint of astronomers

Feast day: August 8

Saint Dominic de Guzman was a Spanish theologian and the founder of the Order of Friars Preachers. At the age of 14 he went to the university to study theology and philosophy, and he was ordained a priest as a young man. When a famine hit where he was studying, he sold his possessions and books to feed the poor.

When traveling through Europe, Dominic was overwhelmed by the number of people who were listening to the Albigensian heresy (the denial of a revealed truth). The Albigensians taught that matter was evil and only God was good. Their teaching and lifestyle were popular with the common people, who were scandalized by the extravagant lifestyle of many priests and bishops of the time. Dominic knew Albigensian teaching was wrong because God revealed in the Scriptures that creation is good, and he wanted to win back people to the truth that God had revealed.

Dominic formed the Order of Preachers, also known as Dominicans (they carry the initials OP after their name), who were devoted to penance, study, and preaching in order to win back those who were caught up in the Albigensian heresy. He knew that the clerical privileges often scandalized ordinary people, so he instructed those joining the order to live simple lives. He once told a bishop, “Heretics are more easily won over by examples of humility and virtue than by external display or a hail of words.”

Today thousands of men and women are members of Dominican religious communities. (From The Catholic Faith Handbook for Youth, Third Edition [Saint Mary’s Press]) 

(Image in public domain-100)