St. Dominic Establishes Second 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.

In 1206, shortly after Bishop Diego and Dominic began preaching in France, they centered their mission at a house of nuns in Prouille. Here Dominic established the Second Order Dominicans. Intended for women converted from the Albigensian heresy, the Order provided a place for prayer and initially for teaching the children of wealthy townspeople. Like all other communities of the Second Order established later, the Religious of Prouille eventually became strictly contemplative. Its residents, rescued from heresy, were carefully instructed in the truths of the faith, and through their penances and prayers they supplemented the work of the preachers for the salvation of souls. Dominic is shown placing the Dominican veil on a nun kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament.

Today Dominic’s Second Order consists of cloistered nuns who take solemn vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience and dedicate themselves to a life of silence, prayer, and penance. Intellectual, manual, and artistic work enables them to support themselves. They fast often, abstain from meat, rise during the night for prayer, and offer their lives to God for the salvation of souls and the welfare of the church.

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.