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The Order of Preachers (Ordo Praedicatorum), more commonly known as the Dominican Order, is a Catholic religious order. In England and some other countries the Dominicans are referred to as Blackfriars on account of the black cowl or cloak they wear over their white habits. In warmer climes (for example Croatia) they are known as Whitefriars. Founded by Saint Dominic in the early 13th century, is one of the great orders of mendicant friars that revolutionized religious life in Europe during the high middle ages.
Like his contemporary Francis of Assisi, Dominic saw the need for a new type of organization to address the needs of his time, and the quick growth of the Dominicans and Franciscans during their first century confirms that the orders of mendicant friars met a felt need.
Dominic sought to establish a new kind of order, one that would bring the dedication and systematic education of the older monastic orders like the Benedictines to bear on the religious problems of the burgeoning population of cities, but with more organizational flexibility than either monastic orders or the secular clergy. His new order was to be a preaching order, trained to preach in the vernacular languages but with a sound background in academic theology.
Dominic saw the need to establish a new kind of Order when travelling through the south of France. He had been asked to accompany his Bishop from Ozma on a diplomatic mission to Sweden. At that time the south of France was the stronghold of Albigensian thought, centered around the town of Albi.
This expression of Christianity held that matter was evil and only spirit was good, a fundamental challenge to the notion of incarnation, central to Christian theology. The Albegensians, more commonly known as the Cathars, lived very simply and saw themselves as more fervent followers of the poor Christ. Dominic saw the need for a response that would take the good elements in the Albigensian movement to sway them back to mainstream Christian thought. The mendicant preacher emerged from this insight. Unfortunately Dominic's ideal of winning the Albigensians over was not held by all office bearers and the population of Albi was decimated in the Albigensian crusade.
Important Dominicans include:
- Albertus Magnus
- Thomas Aquinas
- Catherine of Siena
- Tomas de Torquemada
- Giordano Bruno
- Andrew of Longjumeau
- Girolamo Savonarola
- John Bromyard
- Nicolas Eymeric
To be integrated in the article:
- Order of Preachers Homepage - Available in English, French and Spanish
- Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia
- The English Dominicans
- Dominican Preaching Online
- Chinese Rites controversy
- The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco - A fictional account of a Dominican abbey in the 14th century visited by a Franciscan monk and his apprentice
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