Can someone please tell me about St. Dominic's dog?

There is a Dominican church near where I live and they have some beautiful art. The stained glass windows have all 15 mysteries of the Rosary and they have a lovely sttue of Mary giving the Rosary to St. Dominic. They, of course, have a large portrait of St. Dominic and another statue of him as well.

And in everyone of these works art there is a dog.

Now I can understand if St. Dominic loved his dog. I am an animal lover too. But I think there must be more significance to it than that. Can someone help me?

It’s common and seems to be a play on words. Dominicans = Domini canes (in Latin, ‘dogs of God’). As in faithful watchdogs, of course :wink: although perhaps used disparagingly by their opponents as well, who knows?

I think ‘Domini canes’ is a made up Latin pun on the word ‘Dominicans’.

Domini canes is ‘Dogs/Hounds of the Lord’ - there’s a bit about it here en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dominicans (But Domini is ‘of the Lord’, not ‘of God’.)

Forgive my poor Latin. Absolutely ‘domini’ means ‘of the Lord’, not ‘of God’ :yup:

Then again, dogs in art are traditionally symbols of faithfulness, hence many paintings of married couples would have a little dog somewhere in the picture. Perhaps one could say that faithfulness is St Dominic’s defining attribute, what with him defending the faith against the Albigensian heretics and all.

I believe the story goes as such (at least the version I remember hearing…):

When St. Dominic’s mother was pregnant with St. Dominic, she had a dream in which there was a dog holding a torch in its mouth. Apparently this was supposed to be symbolic of St. Dominic carrying the truth (and/or light) of the Word of God to the world.

Now, when St. Dominic founded the Order of Preachers, they were known as the Dominicans (in Latin, Dominicanes). “Dominicanes” as one word would mean, “Dominicans.” “Domini canes” as two words would mean, “The dogs of the Lord” much like the dog in the dream.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think that the single Latin word ‘Dominicanes’ actually exists. The word ‘Dominic + an’ is purely English and I think the Latin pun is just made up to play on ‘Dominicans’.

The Latin name of the Dominicans is ‘Ordo Praedicatorum’ (Order of Preachers, OP). I don’t think there is a Latin word meaning literally ‘Dominicans’.:twocents:

Is it not interesting too that through out most of O.T and even in N.T, dogs often represent something unclean - except , as far as I know , that one mysterious reference to the dog that accompany Tobit in his journey with Angel Raphael …the angel of healing …

Sara - who is healed of demonic attacks … and is healed in relationships …

How the fidelity of prayer life - including the faithful recitataion of the Rosary , asking for the intercession of The Most Faithful Mother , can bring in the sanctity of our wills being surrenederd and faithful (instead of wanting to ’ tear each other to pieces ’ …)

So that we too will have a taste of that heavenly Peace …even here …

I might have this attributed to the wrong saint (anyone feel free to correct me- maybe st. bosco).

The story I read was like this. St Dominic, use to teach the local boys in his area. One evening he was attacked by some enemies who were going to beat him up. Out of nowhere a big black dog came out to defend him. When someone asked who the dog was, he said it was his guardian angel in disguise. He even had a name for it.

I just found this on the web:

According to the Golden Legend St. Dominic’s mother while pregnant dreamed that she would give birth to a dog who would hold a torch in its mouth and would “burn the world.” It has been suggested that the dog represents a pun on Dominicanus, the word for a Dominican friar, and domini canis, “dog of the Lord.” At any rate, a dog is often shown at the saint’s feet holding a torch in its mouth, as at left.

Yes, I have seen that very image, the dog holding a torch in its mouth, in many of the pieces of art at the parish.

Hmm… His mother dreamed of giving birth to a dog? I seem to recall see a thread somewhere here when the mothers were describing the sometimes very strange “birthing” dreams they had. Mothers, are you listening? :slight_smile: Perhaps that little child of yours will be a great saint! Remember your dreams!

I’d always heard ‘domini canes’ was trash talk from the Jesuits back in the day. I kinda like that explanation, even though it’s probably wrong :o

St. Dominic De Guzman is often pictured with a dog (or dog carrying a torch in it’s mouth) because before he was born his mother had a dream in which she gave birth to a dog that carried a torch throughout the world bringing the light of truth. It is an unconfirmed story that has been associated with the Dominican charism of preaching and working to bring light and truth to the world.

I believe it’s a pun on Dominicanus–Domini Canis: Hounds of the Lord.

rpp the church you described with the dog statues and photos sounds like 1 a friend told me about that is in the state & city I hope to move to for its better weather and interesting things to do and see, including a place where there are many trees and statues of saints and even outdoor stations of the cross. Please tell me what city and state (N.W.?) you were writing about. You can email me or post it here. I just registered as a new member to get this question and others answered.
Vashti Jael

20 :wink:

Just bustin your chops–I know what you mean :wink:

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