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Saint Dominic

 This finely-carved early 18th-century French oak panel has a label inscribed St Dominique along the bottom.  The saint is, however, easily identified by the small dog at his feet, a torch like a bone in its mouth, and its paws perched on an orb as though ready to play ball.

The dog with a flaming torch alludes to a dream Dominic’s mother had before he was born that the child in her womb was a dog with a flaming torch that would set the world on fire when he was born.  She interpreted this as meaning that he would be a preacher whose words would set the world aflame.  He founded the Dominicans, an order of preaching friars, the domini canes, the watchdogs of the Lord.

He is the patron saint of orators.  Born in Spain c.1170, he worked a lot in the south of France amongst the Catharist heretics.  He remained a popular saint in France, Spain and Italy.