St. Dominic and The Cross

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Why does Bl. Fra Angelico so frequently depict Our Holy Father Dominic (1170-1221, feast – Aug. 8, patron of all priests of religious orders) at the foot of the Cross? After all, Angelico frequently paints St. Peter Martyr in the scenes surrounding Christ’s infancy. Thus, it would appear that Angelico had something particular in mind by depicting St. Peter Martyr in certain mysteries in the life of Christ and St. Dominic in others. But, what is it that binds Dominic to the Cross? His compassion.

Titian’s Crucifixion with St. Dominic

St. Dominic had a great zeal for the conversion of sinners. He spent his life trying to bring heretical Albigensians back to the flock of the True Shepherd. After having traveled out of Osma where he was a Canon of St. Augustine, he saw how much people were starving for the truth. And, thus with his bishop’s permission, he remained in southern France seeking to lead them back to the sheepfold. One famous story during his travels with Bishop Diego involves St. Dominic staying up through the night conversing with a heretical inn keeper. By the end, the man was won back to the true faith.

St. Dominic was likewise known to weep for sinners. He would spend his nights in prayer weeping and crying out to the Lord to have mercy on sinners. He was so often heard beseeching the Lord,

“What will become of sinners?”

Throughout his life of traveling around Europe by foot, St. Dominic lived a life of mercy. He experienced the Lord’s own mercy in his life and sought to share that with those to whom he preached. By the time of his death, he was known to be a man of great compassion, seeking to draw sinners away from the wolves of heresy and back to the flock of Christ.

On this great feast day and through the intercession of Holy Father Dominic, may we too be given the grace to spend ourselves for the conversion of sinners and lead them back to the true fold of the Church.

O God, you were pleased to enlighten your church with the merits and teaching of the blessed Dominic, your confessor and our father; grant, at his intercession, that she may not be wanting in temporal help, and may always increase in spiritual growth. Through Christ our Lord.

Bro. Peter Martyr Yungwirth, OP