St. Dominic Disperses Brethren

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.

From the beginning Dominic insisted that his friars seek knowledge not for its own sake but to be “lights of the world.” “To contemplate and to give to others the fruits of contemplation” became the Order’s motto. Probably no scene in all the Dominican chronicles is more significant than Dominic’s last meeting with his brothers in Prouille, France, when he called them together to speak of his plan of dispersal.

Dominic divided Europe among his spiritual sons, stating: “You are still a little flock, but already I have formed in my heart the prospect of dispersing you abroad. You will no longer abide in the sanctuary of Prouille. The world henceforth is your home, and the work God has ordained for you is preaching and teaching. Go ye, therefore, into the world and teach all nations. Preach to them the glad tidings of their redemption. Have confidence in God, for the field of your labors will one day widen to the uttermost ends of the earth.” Dominic’s plan was to establish near the world’s great universities centers of sacred preaching, communities whose members would be devoted to study, teaching, and preaching, as well as prayer. Dominic’s foresight has proved remarkable, for his diocesan preaching group became a universal order, its expansion focusing on Cambridge, Oxford, Paris, Bologna, and other great university centers of Europe.

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.