Religious Orders of the Catholic Church: Dominicans

The Order of Preachers

The Dominican Order dates back to the early 13th Century when St. Dominic of Osma (what is now Spain) started his own monastic order adapted from the Rule of Benedict, under which he was serving. Dominic set off to Rome to get permission for his new Rule and received it from Pope Honorius III in 1220. At that time, two main chapters of the Dominican Order came into place, following the lead of their founder. The Dominicans are called the “Order of Preachers,” because their purpose is to preach and teach. Their motto reads Laudare, Benedicere, Praedicare—to praise, to bless, to preach.

There are three Dominican Orders. The first is the Order of the Friars preacher, which consists of males only. The friars take vows of obedience, chastity, and poverty. In addition, they follow ascetic monastic observances which require wool clothing, hard bedding, fasting from September to Easter, and other such sacrifices. The uniform of the Friars is a white tunic and black cloak. The Second Order consists of the Dominican Sisters, who follow a very similar rule to that of their male counterparts, except that they live a cloistered life and perform manual labor. In addition, the sisters recite the canonical hours, or Divine Office. The Third Order Sisters take simpler vows and usually live active lives outside of a monastery.

As aforementioned, the main priority of the Dominican Order is teaching, and so they have ties to many academic and intellectual pursuits, including the application of Christian principles to the work of Aristotle. They are known as the “Watchdogs of orthodoxy” or “Hounds of the Lord,” which not only refers to their zeal in the realms of orthodoxy and education, but plays off a Latin pun on the name “Dominicans” (domini, of the Lord, canes, dogs).

Over the centuries, many have chosen to dedicate their lives to God under the Rule of St. Dominic. Among these is St. Rose of Lima, Peru (1586—1617), joined the Third Order and subsequently became the first beatified American. St. Catherine of Sienna, a 14th Century saint, was also part of the Third Order Dominicans. St. Thomas Aquinas, author of the Summa Theologica, was actually forbidden from joining the Order by his mother, who then held him captive in his own home for two years before allowing him to return to his work with the Order of Preachers.

For further reading on the Dominican Order, check out the following:


Come back next week for our final look at Catholic Orders!



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