On the Novus Ordo liturgical calendar today, we honor Saint Dominic de Guzman (c.1174 – 1221), yet on he died on August 5th and on the Extraordinary Form liturgical calendar the feast is celebrated on August 4th.
Dominic was a pivotal figure in the life of the Church in the 13th century in similar ways that others were, including the Poor Man of Assisi. The inspiration of Dominic set the world ablaze with fire in ways unknown since the time of the 12 Apostles and the early Church bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ to all people, the sacraments, teaching truth and fact and living in a compassionate way among the people. One great example is that the early Dominicans taught about the goodness of creation versus the prevailing idea of the 13th century that taught the opposite causing disturbing results of uncertainty and false notions of God and the beauty of humanity.
Our common conception of Dominic’s genius and work with his band of preachers was that he responsible for the whole thing. History tells us that he was born in the small Castilian village of Caleruega, Spain, a canon and a priest in the service of Bishop Diego. Dominic accompanied Diego on mission for the good of the Pope’s mission for the universal Church. In this experience of mission Dominic saw the need. But, as Friar Simon Tugwell OP notes, “the Order was not simply his personal brainchild and he was not, and never claimed to be, its sole inspiration or even the primary embodiment of its nature and ideals.”
Hence it can be said that Dominic was raised up by Divine Providence so as to bring to birth a new movement within the Church – itinerant mendicant friars – and he accomplished this by engaging with the needs of his time and in collaboration with other people. “It was always with his brethren and with the authorities of the Church that he shaped the nascent Order of Preachers.” By his own self-reflection Dominic called himself “the humble servant of the preaching” and this is first part of the charism of the Order. The group founded by Dominic was known as the “Friars Preachers” and the Church entrusts them with the preaching mission and officially recognized by the Church on 21 January 1217, by Pope Honorius III.
800 years later, Dominic continues to move the hearts and minds of contemporary men and women in love of the Trinity: the Order of Preachers has a part of the family the friars (the first order), the cloistered nuns (the second order), the sisters (the third order), the secular priests’ group and the fraternity (the third order laity) and countless others who have picked up the charism. One old aspect of the Dominican charism that needs to be restored is the group of donati (like the famous St. Martin de Porres was).