Establishing Foundation in Poland

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.

In 1220 Bishop Ivo Odrowatz, the Polish bishop of Krakow, made a pilgrimage to Rome with his two nephews, the brothers Hyacinth and Ceslaus. While there they witnessed Dominic’s miraculous raising to life of a young man named Napoleon at St. Sixtus. Afterwards, through Cardinal Ugolino, they became personally acquainted with Dominic and were deeply impressed by him. Subsequently, Bishop Ivo begged Dominic to send some of his friars to Poland, but the difficulty of the Polish language posed a barrier. Dominic proposed training the bishop’s two nephews, who already knew Polish, as Dominicans. A few days later they asked for the habit of the Order, which they recieved from Dominic with Bishop Ivo standing by.

Six months later they and two other friars, Henry of Moravia and Herman, a noble German, were sent to Poland. There they preached the Gospel eloquently and founded five Dominican houses, which became centers of learning and preaching. Ceslaus planted the Order in Bohemia; Hyacinth extended his apostolate over Russia, Sweden, Norway, Prussia, Scandinavia, Lithuania, and the other northern nations of Asia and possibly Scotland. With the establishment of the foundation throughout Poland, the Order of Preachers’ mission covered half the known world.

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.