Bologna, Italy, Aug 8, 2019 / 09:03 am
The first image to greet visitors to the basilica containing the tomb of St. Dominic in Bologna, Italy is a mosaic of the saint next to a dog carrying a flaming torch in its mouth.
This is not a depiction of a pyromaniacal game of fetch, but a reference to a dream which foretold the 13th-century preacher's mission in the world -- to be the bearer of divine fire across Europe, illuminating the darkness of heresy and sin with truth and charity.
"When St. Dominic's mother, Blessed Jane of Aza, was pregnant, she had a dream of a dog with a torch in its mouth, running around the world and setting everything on fire. She went to the monastery of Santo Domingo de Silos and asked a monk what it meant. He replied that the child in her womb would be a great preacher, who would set the world ablaze with the fire of his words," Dominican Fr. Ezra Sullivan, lecturer at the Angelicum University in Rome, told CNA.
"In fact, the word 'Dominican' is a play on the Latin, Domini canes, which means 'dogs of the Lord," Fr. Thomas Petri, dean of the Dominican House of Studies in Washington DC, explained.