We belong to the Dominican family: brothers, nuns, congregations of sisters of apostolic life, lay people in fraternity, youth groups, secular institutes and secular priests in fraternity.
The Dominican Family: A Historical Overview
The Dominican family originated from the holy preaching inaugurated by Saint Dominic after the meeting in Montpellier in 1206.
The first achievement in our Order was the monastery of Prouilhe in 1207, the first fruit of Saint Dominic’s preaching in Fanjeaux as well as the public meetings organized in Montreal and Pamiers where dissidents, tempted by various heresies, heard the voice of the Catholic Church without any political pressure. The Dominican family thus inaugurated the evangelical renewal of the Church on the threshold of the 13th century.
With the first converts of Fanjeaux, some peasant families such as Ermengarde Godoline and Sanç Gasc, her husband, gave themselves to Saint Dominic to benefit from the prayers of the first Dominican community. And with each visit of brother Dominic, who called himself « humble minister of the holy preaching », the gifts and offerings in favour of the « Converted Ladies of Prouilhe » multiplied. This was the case later in Toulouse for several families who returned to the Church and who asked to be buried in the Jacobins chapel which was under construction from 1250, the fruit of the brothers’ preaching since the foundation of the Order in Toulouse in 1215. This was also the case for the first brothers and young people whom Saint Dominic reconciled with the Church in 1214 who helped in the care of the Arnaud Bernard hospice, a real course of miracles in Toulouse during the 20 years of war against the Albigensians. From then on the Order grew as a family where the charism of the founder shone in all the components of God’s people. Indeed, even if the Order of the friars is clerical, Saint Dominic wanted to root it in the prayer of the nuns and the support of the laity.
So too at the major stages of the Church’s history. The Great Plague of 1348 and the Great Western Schism (1378-1417) generated a new impetus manifested thanks to Saint Catherine of Siena, the truth of charity in the service of the Church and of the City. Thus was fulfilled the vision of Pope Innocent III who saw Francis and Dominic straightening the walls of the collapsing Church. Since the beginning of the 19th century many congregations of apostolic sisters shared in the spirituality of Saint Catherine of Siena. There was another new beginning with the prayer of Saint Rose of Lima (1586-1617), the first saint of the New World, and with the charity shown to the poorest in the life of Saint Martin de Porres (1579-1639). Or also after the Second World War the exuberant youthfulness of Pier Georgio Frassati (1901-1925) and the maturity of Giorgio La Pira, mayor of Florence (1904-1977).
God is love and He makes mercy: this is the truth at the centre of the teaching and action of the Order in all its components, deployed to this day according to the creativity of charity across the ages, both among the brothers and the sisters, both the nuns and the apostolic sisters, as well as in the Dominican fraternities on the five continents.
The Dominican Family, is a great spiritual family, born eight centuries ago in the heart of Dominic and according to his founding charism. It is still alive and active in the Church and in today’s world. It carries all the richness of its past and a renewed freedom to recreate the truth of mercy in the service of future humanity, at this beginning of the third millennium.
Fr Gilles Danroc, OP