St. Dominic (1170-1221)
Feast Day: August 8
Canonization: July 13, 1234
Patron of Astronomers, Dominican Republic, Malta, Falsely Accused People
St. Dominic introduced devotion to the rosary and founded one of the great Catholic orders of the 13th century, The Order of Preachers, also known as the Dominicans.
Born in Castille, Spain, as a schoolboy Dominic sold his books to feed the poor, and once offered himself to ransom a slave. He saw living simply as key to converting followers of the Albigensian heresy – which taught that all matter is evil, including humanity, and that Jesus was not human.
While accompanying his bishop on a mission, Dominic saw the threat Albigensians posed to Catholicism. He realized the need for a new religious order to help rebuild the Church, since people were not swayed by preachers traveling in comfort, staying at the best inns, and having servants.
Tradition says the Virgin Mary appeared to Dominic in southern France in 1208, while he was praying, giving him the rosary to convert sinners. During famous battles against the Albigensians, with rosary in hand he revived courage of the Catholic armies, led them to victory against overwhelming numbers, and finally subdued the heresy. Devotion to the rosary is thus attributed to Dominic’s teaching.
Worn out by his labors, Dominic died at 51 on Aug. 6, 1221 in Bologna, Italy. Pope Gregory IX canonized him in 1234.