The Order of Preachers, also known as the Dominicans ( la, Ordo Praedicatorum; abbreviated OP), is an order of the
Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Catholics Catholic Church by country, worldwide . As the wo ...

Catholic Church
founded in
Toulouse Toulouse ( , ; oc, Tolosa ) is the prefecture A prefecture (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area ...

, France, by the Spanish priest
Saint Dominic Saint Dominic ( es, Santo Domingo), also known as Dominic of Osma and Dominic of Caleruega, often called Dominic de Guzmán and Domingo Félix de Guzmán (; ; 8 August 1170 – 6 August 1221), was a Castilian Catholic priest and founder of the ...
. It was approved by
Pope Honorius III Pope Honorius III (1150 – 18 March 1227), born Cencio Savelli, was the bishop of Rome A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authori ...

Pope Honorius III
via the
papal bull A papal bull is a type of public decree, letters patent upLetters patent transferring a predecessor of the Nancy Nancy may refer to: Places France * Nancy, France, a city in the northeastern French department of Meurthe-et-Moselle a ...
Religiosam vitam ''Religiosam vitam'' is the ''incipit The incipit () of a text is the first few words of the text, employed as an identifying label. In a musical composition File:Chord chart.svg, 250px, Jazz and rock genre musicians may memorize the melod ...

Religiosam vitam
'' on 22 December 1216. Members of the order, who are referred to as ''Dominicans'', generally carry the letters ''OP'' after their names, standing for ''Ordinis Praedicatorum'', meaning ''of the Order of Preachers''. Membership in the order includes
friar A friar is a brother A brother is a man A man is an adult male Male (♂) is the sex of an organism that produces the gamete known as sperm. A male gamete can fuse with a larger female gamete, or ovum, in the process of fertil ...
nuns A nun is a woman who vows to dedicate her life to religious service, typically living under vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience The three evangelical counsels or counsels of perfection in Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic reli ...

, active sisters, and affiliated
lay Lay may refer to: Places *Lay Range, a subrange of mountains in British Columbia, Canada *Lay, Loire, a French commune *Lay (river), France *Lay, Iran, a village *Lay, Kansas, United States, an unincorporated community People * Lay (surname) * L ...
or secular Dominicans (formerly known as tertiaries, though recently there has been a growing number of associates who are unrelated to the tertiaries). Founded to preach the
Gospel Gospel originally meant the Christian message ("the gospel#REDIRECT The gospel In Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Te ...
and to oppose
heresy Heresy is any belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs or customs, in particular the accepted beliefs of a church or religious organization. The term is usually used in reference to violations of important religi ...
, the teaching activity of the order and its scholastic organisation placed the Preachers in the forefront of the intellectual life of the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
. The order is famed for its intellectual tradition, having produced many leading
theologian Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the divine Divinity or the divine are things that are either related to, devoted to, or proceeding from a deity.
s and philosophers. In the year 2018 there were 5,747 Dominican friars, including 4,299 priests. The Dominican Order is headed by the Master of the Order, as of 2019,
Gerard Timoner III Gerard Francisco Parco Timoner III (born January 26 1968) is a Filipino people, Filipino Catholic priest who serves as the 88th Master of the Order of Preachers, better known as the Dominican Order, Dominicans, since 13 July 2019, the first Asi ...
Mary Magdalene Mary Magdalene, sometimes called Mary of Magdala, or simply the Magdalene or the Madeleine, was a woman who, according to the four s, traveled with as one of his followers and was a witness to and . She is mentioned by name twelve times in t ...

Mary Magdalene
Catherine of Siena Catherine of Siena (25 March 1347 – 29 April 1380), a lay member of the Dominican Order (English: 'To praise, to bless and to preach') , leader_title = Master of the Order of Preachers, Master , leader_name = Gerard Timone ...

Catherine of Siena
are the co-patronesses of the Order. A number of other names have been used to refer to both the order and its members. * In England and other countries, the Dominican friars are referred to as Black Friars because of the black ''cappa'' or cloak they wear over their white
habits A habit (or wont as a humorous and formal term) is a routine of that is repeated regularly and tends to occur .
. Dominicans were "Blackfriars", as opposed to "Whitefriars" (i.e.,
Carmelites The Carmelites, formally known as the Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel ( la, Ordo Fratrum Beatissimæ Virginis Mariæ de Monte Carmelo) or sometimes simply as Carmel by synecdoche A synecdoche ( , from Greek ...

) or "Greyfriars" (i.e.,
Franciscans , image = FrancescoCoA PioM.svg , image_size = 250px , caption = A cross, Christ's arm and Saint Francis's arm, a universal symbol of the Franciscans , abbreviation = OFM , predecessor = , m ...
). They are also distinct from the "Austin friars" (i.e.,
AugustinianAugustinian may refer to: *Augustinians Augustinians are members of Christian religious orders that follow the Rule of Saint Augustine, written in about 400 AD by Augustine of Hippo. There are two distinct types of Augustinians in Catholic relig ...
Friars A friar is a brother A brother is a man A man is an adult male Male (♂) is the sex of an organism that produces the gamete known as sperm. A male gamete can fuse with a larger female gamete, or ovum, in the process of fertil ...
) who wear a similar habit. * In France, the Dominicans were known as Jacobins because their
convent A convent is a community of either priest A priest is a religious leader authorized to perform the Sacred rite, sacred rituals of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and one or more deity, deities. They also have th ...
Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, most populous city of France, with an estimated population of 2,175,601 residents , in an area of more than . Since the 17th century, Paris ha ...

was attached to the Church of Saint-Jacques, now demolished, on the way to Saint-Jacques-du-Haut-Pas, which belonged to the Italian Order of Saint James of Altopascio (
James the Less James the Less ( grc-gre, Ἰάκωβος ὁ μικρός ''Iakōbos ho mikros'') is a figure of early Christianity The history of Christianity concerns the Christianity, Christian religion, Christendom, Christian countries, and the Christia ...
) ''Sanctus Iacobus'' in Latin. * Their identification as Dominicans gave rise to the pun that they were the ''Domini canes'', or "Hounds of the Lord".


The Dominican Order came into being in the Middle Ages at a time when men of God were no longer expected to stay behind the walls of a cloister. Instead, they travelled among the people, taking as their examples the apostles of the primitive Church. Out of this ideal emerged two orders of mendicant friars: one, the Friars Minor, was led by
Francis of Assisi Francis of Assisi (born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone; it, Francesco d'Assisi; la, Franciscus Assisiensis; 1181 or 1182 – 3 October 1226), was an Italian , , and . He founded the men's , the women's , the and the . Francis is one of ...

Francis of Assisi
; the other, the Friars Preachers, by Dominic of Guzman. Like his contemporary, Francis, Dominic saw the need for a new type of organization, and the quick growth of the Dominicans and
Franciscan , image = FrancescoCoA PioM.svg , image_size = 250px , caption = A cross, Christ's arm and Saint Francis's arm, a universal symbol of the Franciscans , abbreviation = OFM , predecessor = , m ...
s during their first century of existence confirms that the orders of mendicant friars met a need. argues the Dominicans and other mendicant orders were an adaptation to the rise of the profit economy in medieval Europe. Dominic sought to establish a new kind of order, one that would bring the dedication and systematic education of the older monastic orders like the
Benedictine The Benedictines, officially the Order of Saint Benedict ( la, Ordo Sancti Benedicti, abbreviated as OSB), are a Christian monasticism, monastic Religious order (Catholic), religious order of the Catholic Church following the Rule of Saint Be ...
s to bear on the religious problems of the burgeoning population of cities, but with more organizational flexibility than either monastic orders or the secular clergy. The Order of Preachers was founded in response to a then perceived need for informed preaching. Dominic's new order was to be trained to preach in the
vernacular A vernacular or vernacular language refers to the language or dialect that is spoken by people that are inhabiting a particular country or region. The vernacular is typically the native language, normally Spoken language, spoken informally rath ...
languages. Dominic inspired his followers with loyalty to learning and virtue, a deep recognition of the spiritual power of worldly deprivation and the religious state, and a highly developed governmental structure. At the same time, Dominic inspired the members of his order to develop a "mixed" spirituality. They were both active in preaching, and contemplative in study, prayer and meditation. The brethren of the Dominican Order were urban and learned, as well as contemplative and mystical in their spirituality. While these traits affected the women of the order, the nuns especially absorbed the latter characteristics and made those characteristics their own. In England, the Dominican nuns blended these elements with the defining characteristics of English Dominican spirituality and created a spirituality and collective personality that set them apart.

Dominic of Caleruega

As an adolescent, he had a particular love of theology and the Scriptures became the foundation of his spirituality. During his studies in
Palencia Palencia () is a city of Spain located in the autonomous community of Castile and León. It is the capital and most populated municipality of the province of Palencia. Located in the Northwest of the Iberian Peninsula, in the northern half of ...

, Spain, he experienced a dreadful famine, prompting Dominic to sell all of his beloved books and other equipment to help his neighbours. He was made a canon and ordained to the priesthood in the monastery of Santa María de La Vid. After completing his studies, Bishop Martin Bazan and
Prior Prior (or prioress) is an ecclesiastical {{Short pages monitor





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External links

Order of Preachers Homepage
– Available in English, French and Spanish
''Dominican Observer'' – weekly magazine of Dominican friars
The Dominican Monastery of St. Jude in Marbury, Alabama

Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Monastery in Buffalo NY
(A Dominican contemplative monastery with Latin chant)
Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology

Lectures in Dominican HistoryOnline Resource LibraryGreyfriars and Blackfriars
BBC Radio 4 discussion with Henrietta Leyser, Anthony Kenny & Alexander Murray (''In Our Time'', Nov.10, 2005)
Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist
{{Authority control Dominican Order, 1216 establishments in Europe Catholic orders and societies Catholic religious orders established in the 13th century Christian religious orders established in the 13th century Dominican spirituality Inquisition Religious organizations established in the 1210s