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Dominicans and Dalmatians

Today is the feast day of St. Dominic and on a visit to Portland, Oregon this week I learned something about Dominicans that I never knew – they have a thing for Dalmatians.

Dominican DalmatianThe Holy Rosary Church in Portland features stained-glass window depictions of the mysteries of the Rosary, which is pretty common. What was different about these is that they each had a little Dalmatian worked into the scene. It made me go and look up the connection.

According to the Mythology of Dogs by Loretta Hausman, the association of the Dalmatian and the Dominicans originates from a dream that St. Dominic’s mother had in which she saw a dog holding a flaming torch in its mouth, guiding her son to set a fire of truth to the world.

The Dominicans became associated with Dalmatians specifically because the colors correspond to the order’s colors of black and white for habits and hoods. Pope Honorius is said to have proclaimed Dominicans Domini canes, or the “watchdogs of the Lord.”

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