St. Dominic (1170–1221) was born in Spain to a family of noble lineage. His mother, Blessed Jane of Aza, prayed at the church of St. Dominic Silos to conceive a male child, her first two sons being given to the priesthood. In answer to her prayer, she dreamed that a dog leaped from her womb carrying a torch in its mouth which set the world ablaze. At his baptism, his godmother beheld a star shining from his forehead. As a child Dominic showed signs of great sanctity and intelligence, and he was also given to the Church for the priesthood. When famine struck Dominic sold his rare and expensive theology books to feed the poor. As a priest he traveled with his bishop into southern France and discovered that it had been overrun with a heretical movement which led many away from the Church. This inflamed his desire to devote his life to apostolic preaching for the salvation of souls, at the time an office reserved to bishops. With the Pope's approval he founded the Order of Preachers, or the Dominicans, committed to defend the truth of the Catholic faith. St. Dominic's Order was novel in that it combined the active and contemplative religious life with the labor of scholarly study and itinerate preaching. St. Dominic was innovative in meeting the needs of his time to defend the Church against her enemies. To aid his mission, Our Lady appeared to him and gave him a new devotion—the Holy Rosary. St. Dominic is the patron saint of scientists and astronomers. His feast day is August 8th.
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