Saint Brigid Religious Education
100 Mayflower Street
West Hartford, CT 06110
Feast day: August 8
Dominic was born in Caleruega, Old Castile, Spain. He was named
after Saint Dominic of Silos, who is said to be the patron saint of
hopeful mothers and the Benedictine Abbey of Santo Domingo de Silos.
Dominic was brought up by his parents and a maternal uncle who was an
archbishop. The names of Dominic's mother and father as Juana and
Felix. Dominic's father was an honored and wealthy man in his
village. Dominic's father belonged to the family de Guzmán, and his
mother belonged to the Aça or Aza family.
Dominic was educated in the schools of Palencia, afterwards a
university, where he devoted six years to the arts and four to theology.
In 1191, when Spain was desolated by a terrible famine, Dominic was just
finishing his theological studies. He gave away his money and sold
his clothes, his furniture and even his precious manuscripts, that he
might relieve distress. When his companions expressed astonishment that
he should sell his books, Dominic replied: "Would you have me study off
these dead skins, when men are dying of hunger? This utterance
belongs to the few of Dominic's sayings that have passed to posterity.
In 1194, around twenty-five years old, Dominic joined the Canons Regular
in the canonry of Osma, following the rule of Saint Augustine.
Saint Dominic saw the need for a new type of organization to address the
needs of his time. In 1203 or 1204 he accompanied Diego de Acebo,
the Bishop of Osma, on a diplomatic mission for Alfonso VIII, King of
When they crossed the Pyrenees, Dominic and Diego found themselves in an
atmosphere of heresy. Many of the heretical preachers were not ignorant
fanatics, but well-trained and cultured men. Entire communities seemed
to be possessed by a desire for knowledge and for righteousness.
Traveling up again to Denmark in 1204 or 1205, Diego and Dominic
returned to home by way of Rome. Dominic then stayed a number of years
in the south of France. In late 1206 or early 1207, with the help of
bishop Foulques of Toulouse, Diego and Dominic were able to set up a
first monastic community at Prouille near Carcassonne, intended largely
as a refuge for women who had previously lived in Cathar religious
Throughout his life, Dominic is said to have zealously practiced
rigorous self-denial. He abstained from meat and observed stated fasts
and periods of silence. He selected the worst accommodations and the
meanest clothes, and never allowed himself the luxury of a bed. When
traveling, he beguiled the journey with spiritual instruction and
prayers. As soon as he passed the limits of towns and villages, he took
off his shoes, and, however sharp the stones or thorns, he trudged on
his way barefooted. Rain and other discomforts elicited from his lips
nothing but praises to God.
Death came at the age of fifty-one and found him exhausted. He had
reached the convent of St Nicholas at Bologna, Italy, weary and sick
with a fever. He refused the repose of a bed and made the monks lay him
on some sacking stretched upon the ground. The brief time that remained
to him was spent in exhorting his followers to have charity, to guard
their humility, and to make their treasure out of poverty. He died at
noon on 6 August 1221.