Piety with an inquiring mind!
The Dominican order of preachers is one of the two major monastic groups of Roman Catholic friars, the other being Franciscans. It was founded in 1216 in France by Saint Dominic, and
sanctioned in the same year by Pope Honorius III.
The order began as an attempt to convert the Albigenses, a Christian sect named from Albi, a city in southern France. They dared to be different in a time of conformity when the Church
claimed political control. The Dominicans were charged by the Pope to destroy this "heretical sect".
In 1233, following several failed armed attempts at eliminating the Albigenses for the previous 30 years, the Pope ordered the formation of the now infamous Inquisition. The Dominicans were
in charge of the torture and persecution.
was established in 1233 by Pope Gregory X in response to the spread of heretical sects, such as the Albigenses and Waldenses in northern Italy, southern France, and Germany. Judges of the Inquisition were chosen from among the Dominicans to try and judge cases of heresy, then considered intolerable by civil and ecclesiastical authorities alike.
If found guilty of heresy, the heretic was turned over to secular authorities for punishment. Though burning at the stake was the ultimate penalty for heresy not recanted, this penalty was
uncommon in mediŠval times. The usual punishment was penance, fine, or imprisonment. Torture was used in the civil courts of the time and was also admitted in trials for heresy by Pope Innocent IV in 1252, despite
earlier Papal denunciations of torture.
During the Catholic Reformation of 1542, the functions of the mediŠval Inquisition were assigned to the Holy Office. Called the Roman Inquisition, it was active against Protestantism and
heard charges of heresy against Galileo in what became a famous trial.
The typical function of the Holy Office in modern times was the examination of theological writings, and it was replaced by the Roman Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1965.
Inquisition 2, sometimes called The Spanish Inquisition, was a quasi-ecclesiastical tribunal established in 1478 by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella to examine converted Jews, and later converted Muslims, and punish those who were insincere in their conversion.
Pope Sixtus IV reluctantly approved the Spanish Inquisition, which was largely controlled by the Spanish monarchs. The Grand Inquisitor was always a Dominican, however, and the first and
most notorious was T. de Torquemada.
The Spanish Inquisition was much harsher than the mediŠval Inquisition and the death penalty was more often exacted, sometimes in mass autos-da-fe. It judged cases of bigamy, seduction,
usury, and other crimes, and was active in Spain and her colonies. Estimates of its victims vary widely, ranging from less than 4,000 to more than 30,000 during its existence. By the 17th cent. the harshness of the
Inquisition was greatly reduced and it was abolished altogether in 1834.
Despite its harsh and unforgiving reputation, the Dominican order has tried to convince us all that it is an evangelical sect, characterised by devotion to theological studies, preaching,
and teaching. The order was greatly influenced by its 13th century member, Saint Thomas Aquinas. This Italian theologian and philosopher studied under Albertus Magnus and later taught in Paris and Rome. He opposed
the teachings of the Augustinians by holding that reason and faith are compatible. He also opposed the strictly rational interpretation of Aristotelian philosophy (that theories be based on facts, and logical
arguments) advanced by Siger de Brabant (1235?-81?) and the Averroists.