The Dominican Order is a Roman Catholic religious order which was founded in France in 1216 by a Spanish priest, St. Dominic (Domingo de Guzman (?1170-1221)). The official title of the order is the Order of Preachers (Ordo Praedicatorum) - it was only in the sixteenth century that its members came to be known as Dominicans - and membership of the order is indicated by the initials O.P.after a member's name. The Dominican Order is a mendicant order which attaches a particular value to its tradition of intellectual activity: the great medieval philosopher-theologians, Albertus Magnus (?1193-1280) and Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), were both members of the order.
Dominican friars are sometimes known as Black Friars because of the black cloak which they wear over their white habit. This name can be seen in various street names, and other addresses in older towns, where it commemorates a house of the Order. There is, for example, a Blackfriars Bridge in London. White Friars, similarly, are the Carmelites and Grey Friars are Franciscans.