St. Dominic arrives in France
At that time, Alphonso III., king of Castile, was meditating a marriage between his son and a Danish princess, and entrusted the negotiation of the affair to the Bishop of Osma, who, taking with him Dominic, set out for the North of Germany towards the close of the year 1203. In passing through Languedoc, both were deeply grieved at beholding the alarming success of the Albigenses. On reaching Toulouse, where they had to pass the night, Dominic perceived that their host was a heretic; and although time pressed, he was anxious to be of service to the poor deluded man under whose roof they then were. Jesus Christ has said to His Apostles, When you come into a house, salute it, saying, Peace be to this house. And if that house be worthy, your peace shall come upon it; but if it be not worthy, your peace shall return to you.[Mt. 10:12-13] The Saints, to whose minds all the words of Jesus Christ are ever present, and who know the power of a benediction given even in secret, regard themselves as God’s ambassadors to every creature whom they meet, and strive to part from none until they have implanted in his heart some germ of grace. Dominic did not rest content with merely praying for his host, but passed the night in converse with him; and the ready eloquence of the stranger made so deep an impression on the heretic, that he returned to the faith before the dawn of day. Then another wonder occurred; touched by the conquest he had just effected in the cause of truth, and also by the sad spectacle of he ravages made by false doctrine, Dominic then first conceived the idea of founding an Order in defense of the Church, the mission of which should consist in preaching. This sudden resolve took lasting possession of his mind; and now that the secret of his future career was revealed to him, he quitted France, as if that land, jealous that this great man owed her not his birth, had nevertheless obtained from God this favor, that he should not tread her soil in vain, and that to her he should be indebted for the decisive counsel of his life.
It is good to remember the purpose to which the Order was founded, a purpose as necessary today as in 1203.