The feast of St. Dominic is a very special day in the Aquila home because we have three generations of Dominics in our family and with many people praying I hope that one day our future son can be the next. Needless to say, we really love St. Dominic in this house and I do let my husband milk it by celebrating both St. Dominic Savio in May and St. Dominic de Guzman in August. So not only are we going to give glory to this amazing saint because it is his feast day, but I also want to say that this is a name day and you should also think about celebrating name days.
In fact, before we ventured out into celebrating other saints during the liturgical year we have always had fun on name days. Essentially it's a day where you get to pick dinner, we go out for ice cream, and you get a little Catholic gift. I think that it is really important to remember who you are named after, take for example how and why names in scripture are very special. On several occasions we see a name change associated with a specific mission that God has chosen them for to draw themselves or others closer into sanctification. When we celebrate our name day we give ourselves that annual reminder of whose name and mission we must strive to emulate.
For me, because there is no St. Steffani, yet ;) , we celebrate St. Stephen, the masculine form of my name. We also celebrate Aquilamas, the name I have given the feast of Sts. Aquila and Priscilla, because of the last name we bear and the way that we feel called to live as they did.
And now back to our regularly scheduled programming...
Who is St. Dominic de Guzman and What's Going On With the Dog & Torch?
He was born in Spain in 1170 AD to nobility, his father was a royal village warden and his mother is actually a blessed, her name is Joan of Aza. His mother had long struggled with infertility when she decided to go on a pilgrimage to the Abbey of Santo Domingo de Silos to pray for the gift of a child. As she was traveling there she dreamed that a dog jumped from her womb with a torch in its mouth and set everything around them on fire.
Not long after this she conceived a son and named him after the Abbey that she had visited. The dream must of had a part in his name too, as a play on words with the Latin term domini canis, which means dogs or hounds of the Lord.
As a side note, I would love to see a Catholic vet, groomer, or doggy day care use this as their business name!
These two will be your first customers!
St. Dominic was highly intelligent and learned in theology and the arts. He dedicated himself thoroughly to his school work but became distracted by the frailty and abuses of others around him and strove in many ways to serve them. In one instance he sold all his school books so that he could buy food and clothing for the poor. In another he attempted to sell himself into slavery so that he could try to gain freedom for others.
Before St. Dominic started the Dominican Order, he was actually a Benedictine superior! But around 1204 AD the Albigensian heresy was flourishing and St. Dominic was a part of a group of Benedictines that were tasked with their conversion. While many monks took a more pompous and arrogant approach, St. Dominic remained austere and it was through his way of explaining the truths of the faith that he won many souls. It is said that he was so good at debating with them that they didn't know how to defend themselves.
It was at this point that St. Dominic knew that in order to keep that positive momentum going he would need to establish a convent in order to maintain the work he had done. In 1206 AD the first Dominican monastery was founded and it was also a place where children could be educated and women could be kept safe from heretics.
What Can We Do to Celebrate His Feast Day?
1. Go outside and star gaze
St. Dominic is the patron saint of astronomers.
2. Pray a rosary with your family
St. Dominic was very devoted to Our Lady and it is said that she gifted him with a rosary for him to use as an instrument of conversion and salvation. This is a short explanation for why Dominicans wear a rosary as a part of their habit.
3. Pray the St. Dominic Prayer
Saint Dominic, your dedication to the truths of the Catholic faith gives beautiful witness to the faithful. Help us to emulate your poverty, charity, and chastity in our daily lives, and to strive to obtain your erudition and verve in evangelizing others in our words and deeds.
4. Adorn your dining room table or home altar with lillies.
St. Dominic is often depicted holding one stalk of white lilies.
5. Visit an animal shelter or a pet shop
When I was little I used to love going to the pet shop to play with the puppies. This could be a fun little afternoon out in honor of the dream St. Dominic's mother had.
6. Go out for churros
Churros are a fried dough that originated from Spanish cuisine. Eat this treat in honor of his Spanish culture.
Have fun celebrating St. Dominic today, friends! We certainly will be too. :) I love seeing your treats, outings, and all the ways that you live liturgically, feel free to share your memories with me.