at the Heart of the Order of Preachers
AND THE FOUNDING
OF THE ORDER OF PREACHERS
Dominic de Guzman, born around 1170 in Caleruega, Spain, laid the foundation for a world-wide Order of Preachers. In the year 1206, together with his bishop Diego of Osma, Dominic was travelling through the region of Languedoc in what is now France. There they preached against the Albigensian heresy that permeated the whole region. Imitating the life of the apostles, they traveled around on foot, and begged for their sustenance. In stark contrast to the customary comforts clerics of the time commonly enjoyed, they adopted voluntary poverty as their missionary strategy. Their witness to the Gospel was effective. By their ardent preaching, and with their spoken word confirmed by the example of their lives, many heretics were reconciled with the Church.
Among these were the women who became the first nuns in the convent of Prouilhe. Recently rescued from the heretics, they were ipso facto alienated from family support and financial resources. At the same time they were not likely to be readily accepted into the established abbeys. Thus the immediate purpose of the foundation of Prouillhe was Dominic’s response to the urgent pastoral need. This first community of Dominican nuns established in 1206 became the center of stability for Dominic and the men who joined him in the “Holy Preaching.”
He understood this monastic community, with its life of prayer and penance, to be at the heart of something bigger than itself -- what is known today as the Order of Friars Preachers, more commonly known as the Dominicans. The Order was formally established in 1216 and celebrated its 800th anniversary in 2016. The Order from its very inception has always enjoyed the special patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
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