Today, August 8, Dominicans around the world celebrate the feast of St. Dominic Guzman. Born in Spain at the end of the 12th century, St. Dominic was marked early on as a “fiery preacher.” Before his birth, his mother had a dream of a dog carrying a torch that would light up the world. St. Dominic himself became that torch. He started out as a local preacher with the Bishop of Toulouse, France, but soon gathered a band of brothers and once the Order was founded, began to send them out two by two to preach the Gospel.
Dominican historian Simon Tugwell has this to say, comparing St. Dominic with his perhaps better-known contemporary, St. Francis of Assisi:
“It was the genius of Francis to be an inspired eccentric (or ‘madman,’ as he preferred to call himself); his particular temperament and grace enabled him to conjure into existence a religious order which he continued to haunt with his uncompromising demands, even when the order was forced to compromise.
Dominic’s genius was of quite a different kind, but no less remarkable. It was his genius to enter wholeheartedly into something bigger than himself and to collaborate generously with his ecclesiastical superiors in bringing it to maturity. And he was the sort of person with whom popes could collaborate…he was a man of complete sanctity.” (Simon Tugwell, “The Genesis of the Order,” Dominican Ashram 16 (#2-3) 1996.
As we celebrate this feast, pray that all of us Dominicans — women and men, lay and ordained – will remain faithful to the spirit of this extraordinary man.