Today is the Memorial of St. Dominic de Guzman, on the new calendar. On the preconciliar calendar, his feast is August 4th.
Some interesting facts about St. Dominic:
-- The name "Dominic" means "belonging to God." Before his birth, his mother, Bl. Juana de Aza, had a vision of her unborn son as a dog with a torch in its mouth, lighting the world on fire (see the picture above). It is perhaps a coincidence, perhaps not, that the name of the Order he founded would turn out to be a pun on Domini canes, "hound of God."
-- The Rosary is an ancient devotion based on the Psalms. The daily recitation of the Psalms was a practice of religious life centuries ago. Since this was not practicable for the average working layman, the recitation of 150 Hail Marys was substituted -- one for each Psalm. This is why the Rosary is also known as Mary's Psalter.* St. Dominic is credited with giving us the Rosary in its present form, particularly the coupling of the vocal prayers with meditations on the Mysteries of Christ's life. It was given to him by Our Lady, as a weapon against heresy when all his own efforts came to nothing.
-- St. Dominic worked many miracles, including curing the sick and raising the dead. One of his most notable miracles took place during a debate with the Albigensians, when he put both their works and the works of the Church to a trial by fire. When he put writings containing their doctrines into a fire, they burned up at once; but when he put writings containing Catholic doctrine into the fire, they survived.
-- St. Dominic walked so far in his missionary travels over Europe that he is known as "God's Athlete."
-- At his baptism, a star was seen to shine from baby Dominic. This is why St. Dominic is frequently portrayed with a star over his forehead, and why he is the patron of astronomers. How fitting that the landing of the Mars rover Curiosity should coincide almost exactly with his feast on the preconciliar calendar! No doubt his intercession played a role in its perfect landing. God is reflected in all of creation, and therefore the study of nature enables us to know Him better. This is why the Church has always supported legitimate scientific pursuits. One of St. Dominic's greatest sons, St. Albertus Magnus, was a naturalist.
-- At his death, which he foretold, St. Dominic consoled his grieving brethren by promising them to do them an abundance of good from heaven.
Fulfill, O Father, what thou hast said, and help us with thy prayers.
*Thus, the Rosary, right down to the number of Hail Marys in the traditional 15-decade Rosary, is based squarely on Scripture. This is the answer to the Jimmy Swaggart theorem of the Rosary, which holds that because it contains 10 Hail Marys to 1 Our Father, this proves that Catholics prefer Mary to Jesus 10 to 1.