The beginnings of the 13th century

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Two great Saints

At the end of the 12th century two of the most widely known and loved saints come into the world; Saint Dominic, 1170-1221, from Old Castille in Spain, and Saint Francis, 1182-1226, from Assisi in Italy.

Living fully the tensions of their times (the Crusades for the liberation of the Holy Land, political conflicts among Christian princes, urban development, population increase and city economy, dangerous heresies spreading in France and so on) they manage to successfully defend and support the Faith and the Church.

With the Pope’s approval, they found, independently from one another, two orders which played a most decisive role in the later history of the Church and of the whole world.

In 1209 we have the first Franciscan friars, whereas in 1216 the order of Saint Dominic is founded. Their main difference from the pre-existing monastic orders lay in their members not being obliged to remain all the time at a monastery, but their mission is to go out and peach the Gospel to the cities and the villages, in the countryside and the palaces.

“The big wide world is our monastery” they would enthusiastically declare.

They would offer their labour in the fields and wherever they could, however, if they found no job they would beg for their bread.

“What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs” Mt. 10, 27

Both orders acquired, very early in their history, branches for women and, in addition, they introduced a novelty which is proven very successful in the course of centuries, namely the “Third Order of the Penitents”

In the Third Order faithful lay men and women may belong, who may have either family or professional or other obligations which do not allow them to live like the monks or nuns.. In this way those lay people, who wish for a more structured and intense spiritual life, are not deprived of the fulfillment of their desire.

Until our times, both orders, with all their branches of men, women and “Thirds” do not cease to be characterized by a great vitality, and to offer most significant work in t he Church throughout the world, preaching and prayer, charitable works, schools and universities etc.

Dominicans were the saints Thomas Aquinas, Albert the Great, Catherine of Sienna, and Franciscans, Clare, Anthony of Padova and Louis of France among many-many others.

Religious freedom, the road to peace

Nowadays, the Christians are the religious group which suffers most persecution because of their faith.

Many Christians experience daily assaults and insults and often live in fear, because they follow the truth, their faith in Jesus Christ, and they call for religious freedom from the bottom of their heart.

Their situation is unacceptable since it is an insult to God and to human dignity.

Moreover, it is a threat to the security and peace and an obstacle for the achievement of an authentic and integral human development.

Religious freedom expresses what is unique to every person, for it allows us to direct our personal and social life toward God, in whose light the identity, meaning and purpose of the human person may be fully grasped.

(Pope Benedict XVI)

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