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Catholic Dictionary

Find accurate definitions of over 5,000 Catholic terms and phrases (including abbreviations). Based on Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

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The Order of Preachers founded by St. Dominic (1170-1221), whose form took definite shape at two general chapters held in Bologna in 1220 and 1221. Also known as Friars Preachers and in England as Black Friars. Specially devoted to preaching and teaching, they were the first major order to substitute intellectual work for manual labor. At. Dominic's request, the order was to practice not only individual but corporate poverty. In 1475, Pope Sixtus IV revoked the law of corporate poverty and allowed the Dominicans to hold property and have permanent sources of income.

The chief apostolate is educational. There is a careful organized system of teaching which culminates in the Studia Generalia, connected with a college or university. It was especially the Dominicans, who adapted Aristotle (384-322B.C.) to the service of Christianity, following the lead of St. Albertus Magnus (1200-80) and St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-74).

The popes have used the Dominicans on many missions, including preaching the Crusades and diplomatic service. The Inquisition was regularly staffed by Dominicans, who were therefore called "watchdogs of orthodoxy." In the Age of Discovery, they established many pioneer missions in the Eastern and Western Hemispheres.

There are two orders attached to the Friars Preachers. The Second Order consists of nuns who follow a rule similar to that of the friars but are cloistered and live a contemplative life. Most of the Third Order Sisters live an active life, with apostolic work outside the community. In 1852, Jean Baptiste Lacordaire (1802-61) founded a Third Order for priests with simple vows, which was destroyed by the French anticlerical laws of 1901.

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