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St. Dominic is focus of Pope's weekly audience

Catholic World News - February 03, 2010

After devoting the previous week's general audience to St. Francis of Assisi, Pope Benedict XVI turned to St. Dominic at his Wednesday audience on February 3.

The Pope noted that St. Dominic was appointed to a post as canon of the cathedral in Osma, Spain, at an early age, and seemed to have a "brilliant ecclesiastical career" ahead of him, but showed no interest in his own advancement. This was an early indication of his virtue, the Pontiff said: "Do not career and power represent a temptation to which even those who have roles of leadership and government in the Church are not immune?"

Later, on a diplomatic mission, St. Dominic saw at first hand how heresy had damaged the faith in southern France, and he enthusiastically accepted a mission from Pope Honorius III to preach against the Albigensians. He embraced poverty, underlining his message that "Christ is the most precious treasure," and soon drew energetic followers to Toulouse, where he first established the Order of Preachers-- now known as the Dominicans.

From the outset, Pope Benedict continued, the founder intended his religious order to have "a solid theological formation," and he regularly sent his followers to universities where they could advance their understanding of theology. The Pope said that this example, too, should be followed today, with Catholics gaining a better understanding of their faith and both laity and clergy working "to cultivate this cultural dimension of the faith-- that the beauty of Christian truth may be better understood and the faith truly nourished, strengthened, and defended."

St. Dominic died in 1221, and was quickly canonized in 1234, the Pope reminded his audience. His most lasting contributions-- apart from the religious order that bears its founder's name-- are the Rosary as a regular form of Marian devotion and "the value of prayers of intercession for the success of apostolic work."

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