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Death of St. Dominic

Stained glass window from St. Dominic’s Church in Washington, D.C. Photo by Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P.

Stained glass window from St. Dominic’s Church in Washington, D.C. Photo by Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P.

The following reflection is part of an ongoing series about the life of St. Dominic & the Order of Friars Preachers.

On August 6, 1221, less than five years after the Holy See formally confirmed the founding of the Order of Preachers, Dominic died in Bologna, the site of one of the Dominicans’ principal university houses and schools of theology. Just before his death Dominic called first all the novices around him and then the oldest members of the Order, to whom he gave his last testament: “Have charity in your hearts,” he said. Practice humility after the example of Jesus Christ, and make your treasure and riches out of voluntary poverty. You know that to serve God is to reign; but you must first serve Him in love and with a whole heart. It is only by a holy life and fidelity to your rule, that you can do honor to your profession.”

By the time of Dominic’s death, some 500 friars had spread as far as Hungary, Denmark, and England. By 1222 they had already reached Kraków, Danzig, and Prague and soon after were preaching the Word in Greece and Palestine. The story of the preachers had begun.

Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P. (a member of the English Province) was invited by the Dominican Foundation to take pictures of some of the locations where our friars serve throughout the Northeast. During his time in Washington, D.C., Fr. Lew photographed the interior of the Church of St. Dominic. St. Dominic’s has been the church where our friars are ordained to the priesthood each May. Surrounding the church, is a collection of beautiful stained glass windows that chronicle the life of St. Dominic & the foundation of the Order of Preachers. Fr. Lew accomplished a great work by capturing the splendor of these windows, and in the process, the life of a towering saint.

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