Hounds of the Lord
Dominicans are known for being the “Order of Preachers.” This is what St. Dominic named his order, and how he wanted members to focus their ministry. But more colloquially, Dominicans are referred to as “hounds of the Lord.” This interesting nickname has a twofold meaning.
First, it is often tied to the dream St. Dominic’s mother had before she conceived him. Struggling with infertility, she made a pilgrimage to the Abbey of Santo Domingo de Silos. While there, she had a dream in which a black and white dog leapt from her womb holding a torch in its mouth. Wherever the dog went, it set its surroundings on fire, eventually setting the whole world ablaze. Soon after this dream, she conceived St. Dominic and named him after the namesake of the abbey.
It is clear from this dream that St. Dominic, and those in the Dominican Order, were and are meant to set the world on fire through their preaching of the Gospel and staunch defense against heresy. Indeed, St. Dominic was one of the first people to prioritize preaching to non-Catholics. He firmly believed that the only way to win people over from heresy was through public preaching of the Gospel. For this reason, he required everyone in the order to be extremely well educated. Even today, Dominicans play significant roles in higher theological learning, and are focused on continuing their studies for the sake of defending the faith.
The second meaning behind the nickname stems from a little play on words. Though Dominic named the order “the Order of Preachers,” shortly after his death they came to be known as “Dominicans.” In Latin, the language used when authorizing the order, this name reads Dominicanus, which is a very close spelling to domini canis or “dog of the Lord.” Given their reputation for zealous preaching and defense of the faith against heresy, the name stuck! The history of the Dominican Order is filled with men and women who “howled” and “barked” the truth of the Gospel for all to hear.
May we too be hounds of the Lord in our own little corners of the world!