Saint Brigid Religious Education
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St. Dominic

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 Castile.

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 houses.

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.


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