Establishment of Third Order

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.

Although Dominic did not personally establish the third order (the Dominican Laity), he indirectly influenced its founding by his spiritual counseling of many laypeople moved by his preaching. As the Dominican friars established monasteries and priories, groups of the laity assisted them and were influenced by their spirituality. Eventually many of them formed confraternities or religious guilds, so common in the Middle Ages. Such movements may have arisen even before Dominic’s death, but it was much later, in 1285, that the master general, Munio de Zamora, provided an organized rule for tertiaries.

The work of the Dominican Laity emphasizes the primary Dominican ideal: the highest walks of contemplation are not incompatible with the exercise of charity and labor for souls in one’s daily life. The Dominican Laity are laymen and laywomen, single or married, who join the Dominican family compelled by a desire to live Dominican spirituality more fully. Those who desire a more organized and shared common life become lay religious. The Dominican sisters, represented here, were founded to establish hospitals, schools, colleges, nursing homes, retreat houses, orphanages, and domestic and foreign missions.

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.