The Order of Preachers (Latin: Ordo Praedicatorum), more commonly known after the 15th century as the Dominican Order or Dominicans, is a Roman Catholic religious order founded by Saint Dominic de Guzman in France and approved by Pope Honorius III (1216–27) on 22 December 1216. Membership in the Order includes friars, nuns, active sisters, and lay or secular Dominicans (formerly known as tertiaries) affiliated with 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 (for example, the Carmelites) or Greyfriars (for example, Franciscans). They are also distinct from the Augustinian Friars (the Austin 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, (St. James) Sanctus Jacobus in Latin.
- Their identification as Dominicans gave rise to the pun that they were the Domini canes, or Hounds of the Lord.
Members of the order generally carry the letters O.P. standing for Ordinis Praedicatorum, meaning of the Order of Preachers, after their names.
Founded to preach the Gospel and to combat heresy, the order is famed for its intellectual tradition, having produced many leading theologians and philosophers. The Dominican Order is headed by the Master of the Order, who is currently Father Bruno Cadoré.
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