Dominic was born in a small village in Spain, in 1170. His father was one of the wealthiest men in the village. His family sent him to study in Valencia. He was very pious as a young man. During a famine, he gave all his money to the poor and starving.
Dominic became a Canon. In this period, the Cathar heresy, a Christian sect with gnostic beliefs, was a serious challenge to the Church. Dominic preached against the heretics. During this time, he recognized that in order to convert the heretics, a preacher had to display real sanctity, humility and asceticism. Dominic knew that this was not the case with the Church, and resolved to change this. He believed that the Church needed to reconnect with ordinary people in order to stop heresies such as the Cathar heresy from winning widespread support.
Dominic and six of his followers established a house in Toulouse. They intended to preach to the poor and working people who had been neglected by the Church. He subjected his group to monastic rules. His followers were expected to preach to the people, and to help them in their often hard lives. Dominic and his followers began preaching, and soon achieved remarkable results. Pope Innocent III recognised the group, and they became known as the ‘The Order of Preachers’. They later became known as the Dominicans, after the founder, St. Dominic.
Dominic did much to popularize the rosary. Traditionally, St. Dominic was believed to have been instrumental in the development of the Inquisition, but historians have now proven that he had no involvement.
Dominic was a noted miracle worker.
Once he fed his many followers by simply praying for bread and wine. The saint was also noted for his battles with Satan and devils. On one occasion in Rome, he exorcised seven demons from a noble lady.
St. Dominic believed that prayer was essential for the faithful:
"Arm yourself with prayer instead of a sword; be clothed with humility instead of fine raiment."
The saint urged Christians to master the body for the sake of their salvation:
"A man who governs his passions is master of the world. We must either rule them, or be ruled by them."
St. Dominic died in 1221, worn out by his constant preaching and traveling.