St. Dominic of Silos was born in Cañas, La Rioja, Spain, to very humble parents. Dominic worked as a shepherd before becoming a Benedictine monk.

When he was ordained a priest, he soon became the master of novices and later prior. When he and two of his fellow monks opposed King Garcia Sánchez’s annexation of the monastery’s property, they were sent into exile.

The exiles found protection under King Ferdinand I of León, and in 1041 they took refuge in the town of Silos at the decaying Abbey of St. Sebastian, occupied by only six monks.

­Dominic was appointed as the abbot of the community and proceeded to rebuild the monastery spiritually and physically. He built the cloisters in the Romanesque style, and established a scriptorium, turning the monastery into a center of book design, scholarship and significant charity made possible through the proceeds of the gold and silver workshop.

Dominic became known for works of healing. The monastery became one of the centers of the Mozarabic liturgy, and preserved the Visigothic script of ancient Spain. Wealthy patrons endowed the monastery, and Dominic raised funds to ransom Christians taken prisoner by the Moors.

The mother of the better-known St. Dominic of Guzmán, the Blessed Joan of Aza, is said to have prayed at his shrine before she was able to conceive the son, she named for him. That son would grow up to begin the Dominican Order. Dominic’s special patronage thus became connected with pregnancy, and until the establishment of the Second Spanish Republic in 1931, his abbatial crozier was used to bless the queens of Spain and was placed by their beds when they were in labor.

By the time of his death, on Dec. 20, 1073, the monastery numbered forty monks. After his death, both the monastery and the town of Silos were renamed for him.

Adapted by A. J. Valentini from: Online, C. (n.d.-e). St. Dominic of Silos – Saints & Angels. Catholic Online. Retrieved Dec. 14, 2020, from