Meeting of Dominican Students of History

Meeting of Dominican Students of History

The Historical Institute of the Order of Preachers recently held a meeting of Dominican history students which took place in the very hospitable atmosphere of the St. Thomas Aquinas Priory in Toulouse from the 14th to the 16th of September 2016. In organising this meeting, the Institute has taken up the former tradition from 1998–2006. Ten friars from eight provinces of the Order (Hispania, Toulouse, Colombia, Holy Rosary, Argentina, St. Joseph in the USA, Malta and Switzerland) who are historians-in-training or potential historians of the Order participated in the seminar. In light of the Jubilee year, Toulouse was chosen as a fitting location because of its role as the cradle of the Order.

The friars had the opportunity to get to know the work of the Institute, to establish contact with the General Archives of the Order, represented by the archivist fr. Gaspar Sigaya OP, as well as to learn about some of the research projects carried out by advanced Dominican historians in cooperation with other, non-Dominican scholars and institutions. Fr. Paul-Bernard Hodel OP, professor of Church History at the Faculty of Theology in Fribourg, spoke about a collection of sources on Saint Dominic on which he is currently working. Fr. Augustin Laffay OP, a member of the Historical Institute and archivist of the Province of Toulouse, presented the online biographic dictionary of French dominicans (Dictionnaire biographique des frères prêcheurs. Dominicains des provinces françaises: XIXe-XXe siècles), which is a common project of scholars of the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales and the Dominican provinces of France and Toulouse.

Excursions to places related to Saint Dominic and the Order in Toulouse, Prouilhe, Fanjeaux and Sorèz (the town where fr. Henri-Dominique Lacordaire OP is buried) were another element of the program. Guided visits to the Toulouse Municipal Library and to the Haute-Garonne Department Archives were also arranged where the participants could take a look at several manuscripts and archive records of the former priory ‘Les Jacobins’. It is worth mentioning in this context that the group received a very friendly welcome and a very competent guided tour in both public institutions. Probably the highlight of the visit to the Department Archives was the presentation made by fr. Paul-Bernard concerning the bull of Pope Honorius III, given to Dominic and the community of Saint Romain on the 22nd of December 1216, which is often wrongly called “the bull of the confirmation of the Order of Preachers.” Finally, the visit to the archives of the province of Toulouse has to be mentioned as well.

Naturally, in the course of these three days the “young historians” had a chance to present their own research projects, which cover the history of the Order from the 13th to the 20th century. It is to be hoped that they will proceed successfully in their work.

The aim of this meeting was twofold: to offer a contribution to the professional training of Dominican historians and to form or strengthen connections between them. The research and promotion of the Order’s rich history depends on cooperation between scholars. For it is equally valid for historians what St. Thomas Aquinas wrote in his Contra impugnantes cultum Dei et religionem: “in the acquisition of knowledge society benefits much from having many studying together, for sometimes what one does not know another may discover.”