800 years of new evangelization: Celebrating St Dominic’s dream

Vivian Boland OP

This year marks the 800th anniversary of the founding of the Dominican order. Vivian Boland OP, Vicar of the Master of the Order, looks at their early years.

The Oxford English Dictionary tells us that ‘to preach’ now usually means to give moral or religious advice in an obtrusive or tiresome way. During this centenary year of the confirmation by Pope Honorius III of the Order of Preachers, popularly known as the Dominicans, a look again at the life of St Dominic shows us that his way of preaching was neither tiresome nor obtrusive. It was not obtrusive because it always involved dialogue and conversation with admired companions or respected adversaries. And it was not tiresome because it was concerned with matters of great urgency for human well-being, questions that affected human dignity and people’s understanding of human destiny, what in a traditional and perhaps now clichéd phrase we call ‘the salvation of souls’.

The Languedoc
Perhaps it was because there was no cinema, television or internet, that great public disputations about religion attracted the crowds in the towns of the Languedoc in the early years of the 13th century. Located between Spain and France, and stretching from Toulouse in the west to Montpelier in the east, the region called Languedoc still retains a special character and atmosphere. At the time much was happening in this crossroads to interest especially France and the Papacy.

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