The Order of Preachers, also known as the Dominicans (Latin: Ordo Praedicatorum; abbreviated OP), is a mendicant order of the Catholic Church founded in Toulouse, France, by the Spanish priest Saint Dominic. It was approved by Pope Honorius III via the papal bull Religiosam vitam on 22 December 1216. Members of the order, who are referred to as Dominicans, generally carry the letters OP after their names, standing for Ordinis Praedicatorum, meaning of the Order of Preachers. Membership in the order includes friars, nuns, active sisters, and affiliated lay or secular Dominicans (formerly known as tertiaries, though recently there has been a growing number of associates who are unrelated to the tertiaries).
Latin: Ordo Praedicatorum
|Formation||December 22, 1216|
|Founded at||Prouille, France|
|Type||Mendicant order of pontifical right (for men)|
|5,647 (includes 4,219 priests) as of 2020|
|Latin: Laudare, benedicere, praedicare|
(English: 'To praise, to bless and to preach')
|Convento Santa Sabina, Piazza Pietro d'Illiria 1, 00153 Roma, Italy|
|Gerard Francisco Timoner III|
|Mary Magdalene and Catherine of Siena|
Founded to preach the Gospel and to oppose heresy, the teaching activity of the order and its scholastic organisation placed the Preachers in the forefront of the intellectual life of the Middle Ages. The order is famed for its intellectual tradition, having produced many leading theologians and philosophers. In the year 2018 there were 5,747 Dominican friars, including 4,299 priests. The Dominican Order is headed by the Master of the Order, as of 2019, Gerard Timoner III. Mary Magdalene and Catherine of Siena are the co-patronesses of the Order.
A number of other names have been used to refer to both the order and its members.
- In England and other countries, the Dominican friars are referred to as Black Friars because of the black cappa or cloak they wear over their white habits. Dominicans were "Blackfriars", as opposed to "Whitefriars" (i.e., Carmelites) or "Greyfriars" (i.e., Franciscans). They are also distinct from the "Austin friars" (i.e., Augustinian Friars) who wear a similar habit.
- In France, the Dominicans were known as Jacobins because their convent in Paris was attached to the Church of Saint-Jacques, now demolished, on the way to Saint-Jacques-du-Haut-Pas, which belonged to the Italian Order of Saint James of Altopascio (James the Less) Sanctus Iacobus in Latin.
- Their identification as Dominicans gave rise to the pun that they were the Domini canes, or "Hounds of the Lord".