Saint Dominic was the son of Felix Guzman and Bl. Joan of Aza, he was born at Calaruega, Spain, studied at the Univ. at Palencia, was probably ordained there while pursuing his studies and was appointed canon at Osma in 1199. There he became prior superior of the chapter, which was noted for its strict adherence to the rule of St. Benedict.
In 1203 he accompanied Bishop Diego de Avezedo of Osma to Languedoc where Dominic preached against the Albigensians (heresy) and helped reform the Cistercians. Dominic founded an institute for women at Prouille in Albigensian territory in 1206 and attached several preaching friars to it. When papal legate Peter of Castelnan was murdered by the Albigensians in 1208, Pope Innocent III launched a crusade against them headed by Count Simon IV of Montfort which was to continue for the next seven years. Dominic followed the army and preached to the heretics but with no great success.
In 1208 in the Church of Prouille, he complained to Our Lady while in pious prayer. She in turn answered him saying,
‘Wonder not that you have obtained so little fruit by your labors, you have spent them on barren soil, not yet watered with the dew of Divine Grace. When GOD willed to renew the face of the earth, He began by sending down on it the fertilizing rain of the Angelic Salutation. Therefore preach my Psalter composed of 150 Angelic Salutations and 15 Our Fathers, and you will obtain an abundant harvest’.
This revelation of the origin of the Rosary was affirmed by Pope Leo XIII, and the tradition that Mary first revealed the Rosary to St. Dominic is supported by 13 Popes. St. Dominic now found great success in this new devotion and brought about the conversion of the Albigensians. Our Blessed Lady made known to St. Dominic, a kind of preaching then unknown; which she said would be one of the most powerful weapons against future errors and in future difficulties.
In 1214 Simon gave him a castle at Casseneuil and Dominic with six followers founded an order devoted to the conversion of the Albigensians; the order was canonically approved by the bishop of Toulouse the following year. He failed to gain approval for his order of preachers at the fourth General Council of the Lateran in 1215 but received Pope Honorius III’s approval in the following year, and the Order of Preachers (the Dominicans) was founded.
Dominic spent the last years of this life organizing the order, traveling all over Italy, Spain and France preaching and attracting new members and establishing new houses. The new order was phenomenally successful in conversion work as it applied Dominic’s concept of harmonizing the intellectual life with popular needs. He convoked the first general council of the order at Bologna in 1220 and died there the following year on August 6, after being forced by illness to return from a preaching tour in Hungary.
Centuries later the Dominican Pope, St. Pius V, called for a rosary crusade to defeat the muslims that were once again invading Christendom. On October 7, 1571, in response to this prayer of the rosary from many people, the Battle of Lepanto was won and the Turks were defeated and turned back.This great victory saved Europe from the Mohammedan peril. God revealed to the Holy Father the news of this great victory before human endeavors could reveal it. That date is now the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary and the Popes have worn this Dominican white as their special cassock ever since to commemerate this Dominican Pope and the power of praying the Rosary.