Thoughts on Imitating Saint Dominic de Guzmán (The Feast of Saint Dominic)

by David Gray, August 8, 2013

Named after Saint Dominic of Silos, Dominic was born in Caleruega, Spain in 1170 to a mother whose womb was thought to be barren. The story is that while on a pilgrimage to Silos she dreamed that a dog leapt from her womb carrying a torch in its mouth and “seemed to set the earth on fire”. The future founder of the order that would be nicked named ‘Dog of the Lord’ (Lat. Domini Saint Dominic de Guzmancanis), would go on to receive a good education as a youth and onto university; devoting his studies to the arts and theology. While there it is recorded that in 1191, while Spain was suffering from a famine, Dominic gave away his money and sold his clothes, furniture, and manuscripts to feed the hungry; stating, “Would you have me study off these dead skins, when men are dying of hunger?”

In 1194, while he was around the age of twenty-five, he joined the Canons Regular in the canonry of Osma, following the rule of Saint Augustine. In 1215, Dominic, along with six other companions, decided begin following monastic rules of prayer and penance. They also sought and received permission from their bishop to preach through the territory of Toulouse. By 1216 they had secured permission from Pope Innocent III for their work, and in January 1217 Pope Honorius III issued an order for Dominic’s community to be named “The Order of Preachers” (“Ordo Praedicatorum”, or “O.P.”). They would later come to be known throughout the world as the Dominican Order.

We usually celebrate the feast day of our saints on the day of their physical death, but that was never possible for Saint Dominic being that he died on the Feast of the Transfiguration on August 6, 1221. It is quite remarkable that a man who spent his life in devotion to pointing people to Jesus and Mary through the Rosary would continue to signal to us through the date of his death that his life was not about him – it was all about the Lord our God. Originally the date of his widely celebrated feast day was August 4th, but it was moved to the 8th after the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council. Saint Dominic is known as the Patron Saint of Astronomers, which also makes him the unofficial Patron Saint of UFO watchers.

When it came time for me to choose my Confirmation Name in 2006, I briefly considered Saint Dominic being that it was on his feast day that I would be confirmed, but I really didn’t identify with him back then. I was still married and didn’t foresee myself becoming a priest. I didn’t see anything in his life that I could relate to. And David Dominic just didn’t sound good. I chose Saint Joseph and he has been a good patron to me ever since.

After doing more study, later on, I did develop a devotion to Saint Dominic, and over the years since then not many a day has gone by that I haven’t asked him to pray for me. I began to identify with him through his love of the Rosary prayer to our Blessed Mother, and the call to preach the gospel. I also have a great love of the charism of the order he founded.

There is this quote that is attributed to him that rings in my soul:

“I kept on digging the hole deeper and deeper looking for the treasure chest until I finally lifted my head, looked up and realized that I had dug my own grave.”

I’ve never met a man who was digging his own grave who didn’t know what he was digging. For some reason we think if we keep digging we will eventually dig ourselves out. That plan never seems to work out well. It didn’t for me!

Saint Dominic is a great figure for us to look upon for considerations about humility, Marian devotion, simple living, sharing the Good News (true Charity), and penance. Therefore, let us imitate this great saint by sharing the teachings of Jesus with those around us, and by praying the Rosary daily. Let us also imitate him by practicing hours of penance by eating a very simple diet, observing periods of silence, and refusing luxury. It is clear from him and many other saints that these are some very simple keys to living a life that God can do powerful things with.

Saint Dominic Pray for Us!


    • disqus-YZ
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    • August 5, 2015

    David, thank you for the beautiful study and reflection on St. Domonic. I feel the need to make one correction. The Canons Regular follow the Rule of St. Augustine, not the Rule of St. Benedict.

    • Thank you so kindly for that correction. Can't believe it's been two years since I wrote this and that error was present. LOL Oh well ....

        • disqus-YZ
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        • August 6, 2015

        Oh please, have no worries. This is a great article. A person familiar with both the Canons Regular (Norbertines in my case) and St. Domonic is a rarity indeed and suggesting Domonic was familiar with the Rule of St. Benedict is not an insult. There is probably some truth to that somewhere/somehow. Thank you for the article!

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