Life of the Order of Preachers: 800 years
The Order of Preachers was founded in 1216 by St. Dominic de Guzman in response to a then desperate need for informed preaching. Against a heresy which denied the dignity of our humanity, St. Dominic trained a group of preachers who would serve the Church in its affirmation of the world as the place where Christ is discovered.
The chief motivation for our common life is to live together harmoniously, seeking God with one mind and heart. Our life as Dominicans is ordered by regular observance, which includes the evangelical counsels, common life, the celebration of the liturgy, and private prayer, as well as assiduous study and apostolic ministry.
For eight centuries, the Rosary devotion has been one of the most popular devotional practices in the church. Its combination of vocal and mental prayer have made it a prime tool for contemplation. Jesus is the author and source of grade; Our Lady’s Rosary is the key to open the treasury of grace to us.
St. Dominic de Guzman (1170-1221), was a Spanish priest who was struck by the need for preaching the true faith in light of the rampant heresy he encountered while travelling in southern France. As Dominic began his preaching ministry, he established a group of women-converts into a monastic community that would have the special task of praying for the preaching of Dominic and his companions. Gradually he attracted men to join him in his task of preaching, and began the process of formally establishing the Order of Preachers. On December 22, 1216, Pope Honorius III formally approved the new Order, and Dominic served as the Master or superior of the entire Order until his death in 1221. Under St. Dominic and his successor, Bl. Jordan of Saxony, the Order spread rapidly throughout Europe, and quickly extended its apostolate to serve the Church is various ways. During the first century of the Order’s existence, Dominican friars served as preachers, inquisitors, canon lawyers, theologians, and teachers at intellectual and spiritual centers such as Paris, Bologna, Orvietto, and Rome.
Luminaries of this time include St. Raymond of Penyafort, a Spaniard who compiled an important collection of ecclesiastical canons, St. Thomas Aquinas, who was one of the most prominent theologians of the 13th century, Bl. Innocent V, the first Dominican to serve the Church as Pope, and Humbert of Romans, who served as Master of the Order, established the perduring form of the Dominican liturgy, and served as an advisor for the Second Council of Lyons
Throughout the succeeding centuries, Dominican Friars have continued to serve the Church as preachers and theologians. The Order has passed through times of greatness and decline, but has always stayed constant in its efforts to serve the Church.
While remaining fundamentally united in its charism and way of life, the Friars have reflected the various time periods in which they have lived and have found ways to preach in new circumstances.
History of the Holy Name Society
The Holy Name Society traces its roots to the Council of Lyons in the year 1274. The Albigensian Heresy was posing a serious challenge to the Medieval Church. This heresy was devastating society – it challenged the divinity of Christ, repudiated all of the sacraments of the Church and encouraged taking one’s life. Pope Gregory X convened a special council of Bishops in Lyons, France. The Council prescribed that the faithful should have a special devotion to the Holy Names of God and Jesus in reparation of the insults offered to it by the Albigensian blasphemers. The Dominican Order was asked to spread this devotion in a special letter to Blessed John of Vercelli, Master General of the Dominican Order. The Dominican’s fervently executed the pope’s command, preaching everywhere the power and glory of the Holy Name of Jesus.
Through the efforts of the Dominican Order, confraternities to the most Holy Name of God were instituted. The Church formally recognized the Confraternity of the most Holy Names of God in 1571 when Pope Pius V gave the Dominican Order sole jurisdiction over this society in his Bull Decet Romanum.
In 1727 Pope Benedict XIII confirmed various privileges on both the Society of God and the Society of the Name of Jesus in his document the Pretiosus. The two confraternities were essentially merged under the name Confraternity of the most Holy Names of God and Jesus by Pope Benedict XIII on 26th of May 1727 when he gave exclusive rights to both the Confraternity of the most Holy Name of God and the Confraternity of the most Holy Name of Jesus to the Orders of Friar Preachers – the Dominicans.
Today the only titles used for these Societies is the Society of the Holy Name or Holy Name Society. Be its origin what it may, there is no doubt that ultimately it is from God. By its fruits you shall know it. And the fruit of the Holy Name Society shows it receives its strength from the root that is Jesus Christ.
The Angelic Warfare Confraternity is a supernatural fellowship of men and women bound to one another in love and dedicated to pursuing and promoting chastity together under the powerful patronage of St. Thomas Aquinas and the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Confraternity is an official apostolate of the Dominican Order. St. Thomas Aquinas is a powerful patron for chastity because in his own life he received a special grace of chastity and purity and is ready now in heaven to share it with others. St. Thomas Aquinas was born in 1226 as the youngest son of a noble family in Italy. His parents wanted him to become a Benedictine monk in the hopes that he might one day secure become the abbot, or leader, of a prestigious monastery. However, God had other plans. In his teenage years, the monks sent St. Thomas to study theology in Naples Italy and there he came across members of the Dominican Order. At the time the Dominican Order was relatively young and had little social prestige. St. Thomas became very interested in Dominican life and joined the order against the wishes of his parents. His parents so vehemently opposed his decision to become a Dominican that they had him arrested by his own brothers and jailed in one of the family castles. They would not release him until he relented and attempted many times to persuade him to change his mind.
One night, the brothers of St. Thomas introduced a scantily clad prostitute into the room where St. Thomas was being held. The plan did not work as intended. Immediately, St. Thomas snatched a burning brand from the hearth, drove the woman out of the room, slammed the door behind her, and emblazoned the sign of the cross on the door with the red-hot brand. He then fell to his knees with tears of thanksgiving and prayed to be preserved in his chastity, purity, and intention to live the religious life.
According to the records of his canonization, Thomas fell at once into a mystical sleep and had a vision. Two angels came to him from heaven and bound a cord around his waist, saying, “On God’s behalf, we gird you with the girdle of chastity, a girdle which no attack will ever destroy.” In the records of his canonization, many different witnesses who knew St. Thomas at different points in his life remarked about his evidently high degree of purity and chastity. The angels’ gift preserved St. Thomas from sexual temptation and bestowed upon him an enduring purity that ennobled all his thoughts and actions. Pope Pius XI wrote: “If St. Thomas had not been victorious when his chastity was in peril, it is very probable that the Church would never have had her Angelic Doctor.”
When was the Confraternity founded?
After the death of St. Thomas Aquinas the cord of purity which he had worn was preserved by the brethren and made available for public veneration in the italian city of Vercelli (though today it resides in the Dominican Church in the town of Chieri, outside of Turin, Italy). Long before the confraternity was officially established, it seems that people began to visit the cord of St. Thomas and to pray for purity. It seems that many would have cords touched to the relic and would wear them, hoping that the prayers of this most pure saint would aid them in the struggle for chastity.
The Angelic Warfare Confraternity was first established at the Catholic University in Louvain, Belgium, in the middle of the 17th century. Later it grew in different parts of Europe and was officially founded for the whole Church in AD 1727 by Pope Benedict XII. It is one of the three ancient Confraternities of the Dominican Order.
Have any Saints or Blesseds belonged to this Confraternity?
Various Saints and Blesseds, such as St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, Blessed Columba Rieti and Blessed Stephana Quinzan (who actively promoted the Confraternity among women), have belonged to this Confraternity.