What do a beautiful woman who tried to make herself ugly, a poor humble friar, a woman who in loose terms, told the Pope to "man up", a 24 year old handsome young man and a extremely talented artist whose work appears in most major art museums with images from the Rosary have in common?
Here are some more hints to the question:
1) The group they belong to are well known for their love of wine from the very beginning. See the following article (spoiler alert: you will find out the group I'm talking about as soon as you click on the link) Wine Lovers
2) Founded December 22, 1216. Yes, this year is their 800th Anniversary
3) Legend has it that the founder's mother had a dream about a dog leaping from her womb with a torch in its mouth and spreading fire to the Earth. This may be one of the reasons this group is sometimes referred to as the "Hounds of The Lord"
4) The group is known as the "Order of Preachers"
Why, they are Dominicans of course! Their names in order of the above description include: St. Rose of Lima, St. Martin de Porres, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, St. Catherine of Sienna and Blessed Fra Angelico. There are well over 300 Saints and Blesseds that belong to the Dominican order. St. Thomas Aquinas is also another famous Dominican.
Who was St. Dominic and how is he relevant today? Well, I will give you a layperson's "readers digest" version of his story. He was born in the middle ages, in times of great turmoil, when Spain and Europe were being overtaken and there were wars and more wars between Christian Europe and Muslims, the time known as the Crusades.
St. Dominic didn't fight those battles though. Instead, he fought against the Albigensian heresy. St. Dominic in more detail. Now the following is an oversimplification, but let me go ahead and phrase it this way. The Albigensian heresy were people who thought: "Spirit good, body bad." While you can probably figure out that there are some religious groups today that believe that, the ones who think the body is where all sin comes from and people don't have control over what their body does, etc. as well as those who rationalize that whatever the body does/decisions it makes it doesn't matter because the spirit is good and has no control over the body (could be a comparison to some New Age beliefs). Today, in our society one could argue there is another type of Albigensian heresy where instead of just the spirit mattering and not the body, the opposite is true. Who cares about the spirit and just do what the body says because there is no spirit and we just live in the now. Catholic teaching teaches that; Jesus came to us as divine God and Man, son of Mary, so thus, he redeemed us both body AND soul. This has so many implications.
St. Dominic didn't fight this heresy on the battlefield, he fought it in taverns and on the street, wandering through Europe, teaching, listening and instructing and he calls his followers to do the same. Dominicans search for Truth, they search by academic study, conversation and more. Their 4 pillars include Prayer, Common Life, Study and Preaching and this is how they divide their days. Dominicans can be Priests, Sisters, Friars and Lay people (meaning just like you and me, I am a Lay Dominican, as a matter of fact).
I once heard a joke where a priest said he wanted to "live like a Jesuit and die like a Dominican". Well I won't comment on the Jesuit part, but the Dominican part may be because the Dominicans, "look after their own" and many others of course. A Dominican trait is to daily pray for their deceased Dominicans and St. Dominic actually told his friars that he would "do far more for them when he died than he did when he was alive." There are MANY wonderful books much more scholarly than I am who share oodles of information about St. Dominic. Please consider reading them. There's also a great podcast on Catholic Answers Focus which is a great interview of Kevin Vost, a Dominican biographer. Some other links have been included above and basically you can google any of these topics for more information.
Hopefully this blog has lit a small fire to your desire to learn more about Dominicans! Happy Feast of St. Dominic!