The dagger is symbolically ambiguous. Daggers are commonly used as part of the insignias of elite military units or special forces, such as the US Army Airborne Special Operations unit or the Commando Dagger patch for those who have completed the British All Arms Commando Course. Daggers may be associated with deception, stealth, and/or treachery due to the ease of concealment and surprise that someone could inflict with one on an unsuspecting victim, and indeed many assassinations have been carried out with the use of a dagger, including that of Julius Caesar. A cloak and dagger attack is one in which a deceitful, traitorous, or concealed enemy attacks a person. On the other hand, for some cultures and military organizations the dagger symbolizes courage and daring in combat.
Saint Dominic established a religious community in Toulouse in 1214, to be governed by the rule of Saint Augustine and statutes to govern the life of the friars, including the Primitive Constitution. (The statutes borrowed somewhat from the Constitutions of Prmontr.) The founding documents establish that the order was founded for two purposes: preaching and the salvation of souls.
In July 1215, with the approbation of Bishop Foulques of Toulouse, Dominic ordered his followers into an institutional life. Its purpose was revolutionary in the pastoral ministry of the Catholic Church. These priests were organized and well trained in religious studies. Dominic needed a frameworka ruleto organize these components. The Rule of Saint Augustine was an obvious choice for the Dominican Order, according to Dominic's successor, Jordan of Saxony, because it lent itself to the "salvation of souls through preaching". By this choice, however, the Dominican brothers designated themselves not monks, but canons-regular. They could practice ministry and common life while existing in individual poverty.
Dominic's education at Palencia gave him the knowledge he needed to overcome the Manicheans. With charity, the other concept that most defines the work and spirituality of the order, study became the method most used by the Dominicans in working to defend the Church against the perils that hounded it, and also of enlarging its authority over larger areas of the known world. In Dominic's thinking, it was impossible for men to preach what they did not or could not understand. When the brethren left Prouille, then, to begin their apostolic work, Dominic sent Matthew of Paris to establish a school near the University of Paris. This was the first of many Dominican schools established by the brethren, some near large universities throughout Europe.
The Order of Preachers was approved in December 1216 and January 1217 by Pope Honorius III in the papal bulls Religiosam vitam and Nos attendentes. On January 21, 1217 Honorious issued the bull Gratiarum omnium recognizing Saint Dominic's followers as an order dedicated to study and universally authorized to preach, a power formerly reserved to local episcopal authorization.
On August 15, 1217 Dominic dispatched seven of his followers to the great university center of Paris to establish a priory focused on study and preaching. The Convent of St. Jacques, would eventually become the order's first studium generale. Saint Dominic was to establish similar foundations at other university towns of the day, Bologna in 1218, Palencia and Montpellier in 1220, and Oxford just before his death in 1221.
In 1219 Pope Honorius III invited Saint Dominic and his companions to take up residence at the ancient Roman basilica of Santa Sabina, which they did by early 1220. Before that time the friars had only a temporary residence in Rome at the convent of San Sisto Vecchio which Honorius III had given to Dominic circa 1218 intending it to become a convent for a reformation of nuns at Rome under Dominic's guidance. In May 1220 at Bologna the order's first General Chapter mandated that each new priory of the order maintain its own studium conventuale thus laying the foundation of the Dominican tradition of sponsoring widespread institutions of learning. The official foundation of the Dominican convent at Santa Sabina with its studium conventuale occurred with the legal transfer of property from Honorius III to the Order of Preachers on June 5, 1222. This studium was transformed into the order's first studium provinciale by Saint Thomas Aquinas in 1265. Part of the curriculum of this studium was relocated in 1288 at the studium of Santa Maria sopra Minerva which in the 16th century world be transformed into the College of Saint Thomas (Latin: Collegium Divi Thom). In the 20th century the college would be relocated to the convent of Saints Dominic and Sixtus and would be transformed into the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum.
The Dominican friars quickly spread, including to England, where they appeared in Oxford in 1221. In the 13th century the order reached all classes of Christian society, fought heresy, schism, and paganism by word and book, and by its missions to the north of Europe, to Africa, and Asia passed beyond the frontiers of Christendom. Its schools spread throughout the entire Church; its doctors wrote monumental works in all branches of knowledge, including the extremely important Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas. Its members included popes, cardinals, bishops, legates, inquisitors, confessors of princes, ambassadors, and paciarii (enforcers of the peace decreed by popes or councils). The order was appointed by Pope Gregory IX the duty to carry out the Inquisition. In his Papal Bull Ad extirpanda of 1252, Pope Innocent IV authorised the Dominicans' use of torture under prescribed circumstances.
The expansion of the order produced changes. A smaller emphasis on doctrinal activity favoured the development here and there of the ascetic and contemplative life and there sprang up, especially in Germany and Italy, the mystical movement with which the names of Meister Eckhart, Heinrich Suso, Johannes Tauler, and Saint Catherine of Siena are associated. (See German mysticism, which has also been called "Dominican mysticism.") This movement was the prelude to the reforms undertaken, at the end of the century, by Raymond of Capua, and continued in the following century. It assumed remarkable proportions in the congregations of Lombardy and the Netherlands, and in the reforms of Savonarola in Florence.
At the same time the order found itself face to face with the Renaissance. It struggled against pagan tendencies in Renaissance humanism, in Italy through Dominici and Savonarola, in Germany through the theologians of Cologne but it also furnished humanism with such advanced writers as Francesco Colonna (probably the writer of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili) and Matteo Bandello. Many Dominicans took part in the artistic activity of the age, the most prominent being Fra Angelico and Fra Bartolomeo.