First General Chapter

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.

The First General Chapter, at which Dominic presided, was held in 1220 in Bologna on the feast of Pentecost. A key objective was to organize the Dominican Order and frame its Constitution. Dominic wanted to increase the Order’s efficiency by embodying in its Constitution the fruits of the brothers’ practical experience and his steadfast rude requiring charity among all followers.

Even today a general chapter has three forms: a chapter of provincials (superiors), a chapter of diffinitors (delegates elected from the ranks), and an elective chapter (made up of both provincials and diffinitors), which meet in rotation. The chapter of diffinitors represents grass-roots thinking and balances the chapter of provincials. In all chapters, each delegate has one vote. A diffinitor is elected by a majority in each of the approximately thirty-seven Dominican provinces around the world, including four in the United States: Eastern, Southern, Central, and Western.

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.