8th CENTENARY OF THE FOUNDATION OF THE DOMINICAN ORDER

8th CENTENARY OF THE FOUNDATION OF THE DOMINICAN ORDER  

In 1216 a young Dominic de Guzmán, born in a mountainous town of the Old Castile region of Spain, founded the Order of Preachers with the approval of Pope Honorius III. He believed the Church needed to rediscover the authenticity of the Gospel message through prayer, study and listening to the Word of God. Drawing from the foundations of the Rule of St. Augustine, Saint Dominic found his own unique response, a balance between contemplation and action, by proposing an apostolic way of life based on prayer, fraternal communion and itinerant preaching. Saint Thomas Aquinas, one of his most brilliant representatives, summed up the essence of it in the formula "contemplata aliis tradere", that is, transmitting to others the fruits of contemplation. The first two Dominican religious communities were established in Bologna, Italy. Dominic took refuge in one of them right before he died on 6 August 1221 where, exhausted from his challenging efforts and unceasing apostolic missionary work, he received the care and support of his brothers. The postage stamp produced for this occasion by Marco Ventura shows a half length profile of a Dominican friar, with the typical white and black habit, where white signifies purity and chastity and black means penance and sacrifice. Embellishing the design are two symbols always associated with Saint Dominic: the eight-pointed star, a sign of illumination and wisdom, but also predestination, as witnessed by his Godmother when she saw a star on the head of the newborn Dominic at the moment of his baptism; and, the dog with the torch, symbolizing the fidelity of the Dominicans ("Domini canes" - dogs of the Lord) to the Lord and the spread of the Word of God.