Today is the Memorial of St Dominic. He was born in Caleruega, Old Castille, Spain in 1170. His family were of noble birth. He studied the arts and theology for six years in Palencia. In 1191 while studying there was a terrible famine in Spain that left many people starving and homeless. Dominic sold everything he had and bought food for the poor. When he sold his manuscripts, required for studying he replied, “Would you have me study from these dead skins when people are dying of hunger?” At the age of 26 he became the Canon of the Cathedral of Osma.
In 1204 he accompanied Bishop Diego de Acebo on a papal mission to convert the Cathars or Albigensians at Languedoc, in the region of Occitanie, southern France. The Albigsenians believed that all matter was evil and so they rejected the incarnation and the sacraments.
St Dominic approached refuting error by reason and not force which was very common around this time. He was patient with his gentle persuasion. The Albigensians did live ascetic lives and the people were impressed by this in contrast to many of the church men who travelled on horseback with an entourage and servants and stayed at the best inns.
St Dominic saw a lesson in this and began itinerant preaching along with three Cistercians, living the Gospel ideal of poverty. In 1215 he formed a religious house at Toulouse and this marked the beginnings of the Dominican Order. This order was to live a life of charity, poverty, humility, learning and studying so as to preach the truth and combat error. Their intention was to link authentically these ideals with a ministry of salvation to the people by the word of God, to pass on the fruits of contemplation, to speak of God and with God. St Dominic died in 1221.