Dominic of the Mother of God
Member of the Passionist Congregation and theologian, b. June 22, 1792; d. August 27, 1849
Dominic of the Mother of God (called in secular life DOMENICO BARBERI), a member of the Passionist Congregation and theologian, b. near Viterbo, Italy, June 22, 1792; d. near Reading, England, August 27, 1849. His parents were peasants and died while Dominic was still a small boy. There were six children, and Dominic, the youngest child, was adopted by his maternal uncle, Bartolomeo Pacelli. As a boy he was employed to take care of sheep, and when he grew older he did farm work. He was taught his letters by a kind Capuchin priest, and learned to read from a country lad of his own age; although he read all the books he could obtain, he had no regular education until he entered the Congregation of the Passion. He was deeply religious from childhood, felt himself distinctly called to join the institute he entered, and believed that God, by a special manifestation, had told him that he was destined to announce the Gospel truth and to bring back stray sheep to the way of salvation.
He was received into the Congregation of the Passion in 1814, and ordained priest, March 1, 1818. After completing the regular course of studies, he taught philosophy and theology to the students of the congregation as lector for a period of ten years. He then held in Italy the offices of rector, provincial consultor, and provincial, and fulfilled the duties of these positions with ability. At the same time he constantly gave missions and retreats. He founded the first Passionist Retreat in Belgium at Ere near Tournai in 1840; in 1842, after twenty-eight years of effort, he established the Passionists in England, at Aston Hall, Staffordshire. During the seven years of his missionary life in England he established three houses of the congregation. He died at a small railway station near Reading and was buried under the high altar of St. Anne’s Retreat, Sutton, St. Helen’s. Among the remarkable converts whom he received into the Church may be mentioned John Dobree Dalgairns, John Henry Newman, and Newman’s two companions, E. S. Bowles and Richard Stanton, all of whom were afterwards distinguished Oratorians. The reception in 1845 of Newman and his friends must have been the greatest happiness of his life. In 1846 Father Dominic received the Hon. George Spencer, in religion Father Ignatius of St. Paul, into the Congregation of the Passion.
Among Father Dominic’s works are: courses of philosophy and moral theology; a volume on the Passion of Our Lord; a work for nuns on the Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin, “Divina Paraninfa”; a refutation of de Lamennais; three series of sermons; various controversial and ascetical works. In 1841 he addressed a Latin letter to the professors of Oxford in which he answered the objections and explained the difficulties of Anglicans. An English translation of the letter is given in the appendix to the life of Father Dominic by Father Pius Devine.