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St Dominic, Patron of Astronomers, d. 1221

The liturgical celebration of St Dominic is on August 6 which is his deathday, in 1221 – his birthday is August 8, 1170.

Many sources state that St Dominic is the patron saint of astronomy and astronomers. We have been unable to ascertain how and when St Dominic acquired the astronomical patronage. There are two stellar elements in the Golden Legend’s entry on St Dominic: the vision of a star on St Dominic’s forehead at his baptism, and a Toulousan academic’s vision of seven stars as a premonition prior to the arrival of St Dominic accompanied by six friars. No indication that this has anything to do with St Dominic’s astronomical patronage.  It is possible that St Dominic became the patron saint of astronomers much later, perhaps even within the last two centuries. We would be most grateful for any information on the matter.

The Order of Preachers (the Dominicans; other historical names: Black Friars in England, Jacobins in France) will be celebrating the 800th anniversary of St Dominic’s death with a jubilee year starting on January 6, 2021 and ending on January 6, 2022. The main activities will take place in the Patriarchal Church of St Dominic in Bologna (housing St Dominic’s tomb); they will include an opening mass on January 6, 2021, a papal mass on May 24, 2021, commemorating the translation of St Dominic, a Dies Natalis mass on Sunday August 4, 2021, and a concluding mass on January 6, 2022. (Source: Circular letter of the Master of the Order of Preachers of January 31, 2020.)

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