Saint Dominic was born in Caleruega, Spain, in 1170. His parents, Felix and Juana, were members of the Spanish nobility. They were related to the King and Queen of Spain. His father was the leader of the village and his mother was Blessed Joan of Aza.
After Dominic’s much older brothers were grown, his mother prayed for another son. Legend says before Dominic’s birth, his mother dreamed a dog leaped from her womb carrying a torch in its mouth. The dog set the world on fire. She had another dream where St. Dominic of Silos told her she would have a son who would be a shining light to the Church. She decided to name the child Dominic. His mother saw a moon on his forehead. At his baptism, Dominic’s godmother saw a star on his forehead.
Dominic was raised by his parents, and his mother’s uncle, an archpriest. Dominic studied the arts for six years and theology for four years. Studying the arts meant he studied arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, music theory, grammar, logic, public speaking, and Latin. He was a great student.
In 1191, a famine left many people homeless and starving throughout Spain. Dominic sold everything he had to buy food for the poor. He even sold his books to help pay for food. When he was asked about it, he said how could he study when people were starving. In 1194, at age 25, Dominic joined the Canons Regular. They followed the teachings of Saint Augustine. In 1204, he and a bishop began a program to convert the Cathars, who were a Christian group, with different beliefs. They did not follow the teachings of the Church.
In 1215 Dominic and six followers saw the need for a new type of spiritual organization. They would help the spiritual and educational needs in the growing cities. The followed monastery rules of prayer and penance. The bishop also gave them permission to preach. Dominic went to Rome to gain the approval of the Pope for his new order. It took a year, and the order was named “The Order of Preachers”, O.P., and is known as the Dominican order.
In his later years, he traveled to check on the members of his growing order. He made his headquarters in Rome. Dominic lived an ascetic life. Ascetic means to practice self-discipline from luxury for religious reasons. He didn’t eat meat. He observed fasts and periods of silence. He never allowed himself the luxury of a bed.
Dominic died in 1221 at the age of 51. Saint Dominic is the patron saint of astronomers, astronomy, and falsely accused people.