When Dominic de Guzman (1170 -1221) founded the Order of Preachers, or Dominicans,at the beginning of the 13th century the world he knew was in turmoil. Europe’s agrarian population was shifting to urban centers, creating waves of change that affected all of life, including economic, social relations, politics and religion. Universities established in these new urban centers were attracting the interest of the new generation and the attention of Dominic as well.
The passion of Dominic’s life became the centerpiece of his way of life — to preach the Gospel wherever its good news needed to be heard. He created the vision of an itinerant order that would go wherever people needed to hear the good news. He also believed that for this preaching to be authentic the preachers needed the support of a communal life where they could pursue constant prayer and a mendicant life, begging for the needs of the community and for the words needed for preaching. Dominic believed this gathering itself would be a holy preaching.In every generation since then others have followed this same path and it is in this sense that Dominic’s charism is a living tradition.
According to the tradition that has been passed on from those who knew Dominic, he was a joyful friar. Wherever he went, he conveyed an enthusiasm for the Gospel. People found this inviting because it offered them hope. Dominic shared his intense desire to know God more deeply, and his own devotion to prayer and study gave witness to this.