Saints in Review

Throughout the years Mary Ann Van Hoof was visited by many saints.  They were sent by Our Holy Mother to help her fulfill the Sacred Cause by providing encouragement and information.  Very often we find that their lives while on earth paralleled the information or the purpose of their appearance to her.


St Dominic
St Dominic

Dominic was born about 1170 in Calaroga, Spain in Old Castile. His parents, Felix Guzman and Joanna of Aza, both belonged to the nobility of Spain, though neither was connected with the reigning house of Castile. Both were very religious, with Joanna solemnly beatified in 1828 by Pope Leo XII.

The example of such parents had a profound effect on their children who became known for their sanctity. Antonio, the eldest became a priest and, having distributed his wealth to the poor, entered a hospital where he spent his life ministering to the sick. The other brother, Manes, following in the footsteps of Dominic, became a Friar Preacher and later was beatified by Pope Gregory XVI.

From his seventh to his fourteenth year, Dominic pursued his elementary studies under the tutelage of his maternal uncle, the archpriest of Gumiel d’lzan, not far from Calaroga. Then in 1184 Dominic entered the University of Palencia where he remained for ten years and was admired by its scholars as an example for all. On one occasion, he sold his books, annotated with his own notes, along with his writings, so he could use the money to feed the poor. When criticized, he said they would mean nothing if people starved instead.

While Dominic was still a student at Palencia, the Bishop of Osma asked him to be a member of his cathedral chapter for reform. The bishop soon realized the importance of Dominic’s role in his plan for reform that he appointed him sub-prior of the chapter; and, in 1201 when Don Diego was made Bishop of Osma, Dominic took his place and became the prior.

In 1203, the King of Castile asked Don Diego, Bishop of Osma, and Dominic to escort the daughter of a Danish prince as a bride for his son, Prince Ferdinand. While on the trip, they were amazed and saddened at the spiritual ruin being caused by the Albigensian heresy. It was in contemplation of this scene that Dominic first conceived the idea of founding an order for the purpose of combating heresy and spreading the Gospel to the ends of the world.

Their mission was brought to a sudden close when the betrothed princess unexpectedly died.

In 1204 Don Diego and Dominic went to Rome to have Diego resign his bishopric, so they could devote themselves to the conversion of unbelievers in distant lands. Pope Innocent III refused to approve this project, and instead sent them to join forces with the Cistercians whom he had entrusted the crusade against the Albigenses.

The Cistercians, on account of their worldly manner of living, had made little or no headway against the Albigenses. Dominic quickly saw the failure and convinced them to adopt a more pious manner of life, which soon led to increased numbers of converts.

Dominic and his companion lost no time in challenging their opponents in theological debates. The training Dominic received at Palencia now proved to be very valuable and the Albigenses were unable to refute his arguments or counteract the influence of his teaching.

Early in his apostolate around Prouille, Dominic realized the necessity of an institution that would protect women of that country from the influence of the heretics, as many had embraced Albigensianism and were erecting convents so they could teach this heresy to the children of the Catholic nobility.

In 1206, the Bishop of Toulouse permitted the establishment of a convent at Prouille. To this community and soon afterwards to one in Rome, Dominic gave the rule and constitutions which have ever since guided the nuns of the Second Order of Saint Dominic.

The year 1208 was to be a very important year in the life of Dominic. First, it was during a three-day prayer and fasting exercise in atonement for the heresies of the Albigenses that the Blessed Mother appeared to Dominic and instructed him in how She wished for people to pray Her Rosary while meditating on the fifteen mysteries in the life Jesus and Mary.

Secondly,on January 15, 1208 one of the Pope’s representatives to the Cistercians was assassinated. This abominable crime precipitated the crusade under Simon de Montfort. Dominic participated in the stirring scenes that followed, but always on the side of mercy while others wrought death and desolation with the sword.

During this period Dominic followed the Catholic army, reviving religion and reconciling heretics that surrendered to victorious de Montfort. It was probably on September 1, 1209 that Dominic first came in contact with Simon de Monfort and formed with him that intimate friendship which lasted till the death of the brave crusader under the walls of Toulouse on June 25, 1218. Dominic was with him at the siege of Lavaur in 1211, and in early 1212 at the capture of La Penne d’Ajen, then later in 1212 at Pamiers where he was asked to help restore religion and morality. Lastly, just before the battle of Muret on September 12, 1213, Dominic knelt before the altar in the church of Saint-Jacques where he prayed for the triumph of the Catholic arms. So remarkable was the victory that de Monfort regarded it as miraculous, and attributed it to the prayers of Dominic. In gratitude to God, de Monfort erected a chapel in the church of Saint-Jacques dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary, as devotion to the rosary was coming into general use at this time through the promotion of Dominic as requested by Our Lady.

The influence of Dominic’s preaching and holiness led a small band of devoted disciples to follow wherever he might lead. Never forgetting his goal of founding a religious order to combat heresy and propagate religious truth, on April 25, 1215 Dominic received the approval of the Bishop of Toulouse to start the first convent of the Order of Preachers. Then in July of 1215 the bishop canonically established the community as a religious congregation of his diocese.

In November of 1215, an ecumenical council was to meet in Rome “to deliberate on the improvement of morals, the extinction of heresy, and the strengthening of the faith”. This was identically the mission Dominic had determined for his order. The Bishop of Toulouse was present at the deliberations and everything seemed to be falling in place, but when Dominic’s request for confirmation of an order was presented, they were opposed to the institution of any new rules for religious orders.

Upon returning to Toulouse, Dominic decided to adopt the ancient rule of St. Augustine, which on account of its generality, would easily lend itself to any form they might wish to give it. This done, Dominic again appeared before the pope in August 1216 and again solicited the confirmation of his order. This time he was received favorably, and on December 22, 1216 the Bull of confirmation was issued.

Dominic spent the following Lent preaching in various churches in Rome, and before the pope and the papal court. It was at this time that he received the office and title of Master of the Sacred Palace, or Pope’s Theologian. This office has been held uninterruptedly by members of the order from the founder’s time to the present day.

On August 15,1217 Dominic gathered the brethren about him and announced his plan to disperse his little band of seventeen unformed followers over all Europe. To facilitate the spread of the order, Pope Honorius III issued a Bull on February 11, 1218 to all archbishops, bishops, abbots, and priors requesting their support of the Order of Preachers. On December 3, 1218 Honorius III bestowed upon the order the church of St. Sixtus in Rome where the first monastery of the order was established.

At the invitation of Honorius, Dominic began the somewhat difficult task of restoring the pristine observance of religious discipline among the various Roman communities of women. This was accomplished in comparatively short time to the great satisfaction of the pope.

Dominic valued his training at the University of Palencia in Spain so much that he decided his followers should also be afforded the best educational advantages obtainable.  It was for this (Continued from page 29) reason that he sent Matthew of France and two companions to set up a foundation at the University of Paris in France, and later another at the University of Bologna in Italy.

The life of Dominic was one of tireless effort in the service of God. If he hated heresy and labored for its extinction, it was because he loved truth and loved souls. He never failed to distinguish between the sin and the sinner. Brother Dominic died August 6, 1221.

After signing the Bull of canonization on July 13, 1234, Pope Gregory IX declared that he no more doubted the saintliness of St. Dominic than he did that of St. Peter and St. Paul.




“Know you not, that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?  But if any man violate the temple of God, him shall God destroy.  For the temple of God is holy, which you are.”            —1 Corinthians 3:16-17



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