St. Domenico

St. Dominick the Abbot is worshipped in many places in Abruzzo, Molise, Lazio and Campania. Originally his patronage was on thunderstorms and fevers, then it came to include also the protection of those who were bitten by snakes and dogs and the defense against toothache, as it is apparent in the present celebrations in Cocullo.
San Domenico abate, better known as San Domenico da Foligno or San Domenico di Sora, (Foligno, 951 - Sora, 22 January 1031), was an abbot and reformer of monastic life at the turn of the 10th and 11th century. The veneration started in the 11th century, after reports started to come of his miracles as a healer.


San Domenico was born in Foligno (Umbria) in 951 from a noble and religious family. His parents entrusted him as a boy to the nearby monastery of St. Sylvester, and he became a Benedictine friar. Domenico, after reaching perfection in his monastery life, fully prepared to spiritual fights, obtained permission from his Father Superior and climbed to the top of a not too far away mountain, with the purpose to fight with his own forces alone against the enemy of the human kind. In the sites of his many hermitages his sanctity brought to him the faithful, both poor peasants and rich lords, and Domenico built new monasteries, which he then entrusted to his disciples and left in search of a new hermitage.

About the year 1000 he came to the Valle Peligna (Sulmonese Diocesi) and lived there for some time as a hermit in Prato Cardoso. Here he was visited by the Great Counts of the Marsi, Berardo, Teodino and Randuisio, who begged him to establish also in their territory a monastery, in San Pietro del Lago.

The Miracles

A child named Leone, from the town of Castro, who had been attacked by a very violent fever, recovered at once as soon as he drank the water where the saint man had washed his hands.

Also a lady from an aristocratic family, suffering of hemorrhage, begged him to send her the water where he had washed his hands. Domenico sent her instead some water blessed according to the Church custom, with the words that by that she would be healed, but through her faith. The lady drank the water in faith and was healed.

Domenico was in Cocullo for a short time, and left to the local church one molar tooth and the horseshoe of his female mule, which are still preserved in the church with great devotion. The horseshoe has healing power against animal bites, the tooth on those bitten by poisonous snakes.

On another occasion a wolf had taken away an infant, son of a woodcutter, from his cot, and the parents addressed prayers to the saint to help them. The wolf took the baby back to his cot. The miracle is commemorated on the first Sunday in May with a representation in the forest and the presence of snake-charmers.

His Monasteries

Requested by Borrello, another Count of the Marsi, he established a monastery also in the Sangro valley, and from a huge chestnut tree that was there the place was called San Pietro Avellana. After that Domenico left for Campania, and in Trisulti founded a monastery dedicated to San Bartolomeo. While from San Pietro del Lago he was traveling to Trisulti to visit his Brothers, he met with Pietro Rainero, the Lord of Sora, who greatly humbling himself begged for forgiveness of his many great sins. Among other acts of penitence, Domenico ordered him to build a monastery in his lands in the honor of Mary, Christ's mother.

At the age of about 80, while travelling towards Tuscolo, he was attacked by a deadly wound in his jaw. Domenico went back to his monastery, gathered the other friars and invited them to keep faith to their rule, then received the sacraments and asked to be left alone. From outside the friars heard Domenico speaking to someone, and a a voice answering to him. When everything was silent, they found him dead, but were certain that an angel had come to help him through the passage. It was 22 January 1031. His body was buried in the monastery that takes his name, near the town of Sora.