Why the emphasis on the women? Dominic knew that the friars would be immersed in the public proclamation of the Word of God. Called to be an Order of itinerant preachers salting the world with the Word, they could not be full-time contemplatives at prayer in choir day after day. Believing the Body of Christ to be a unified organism in which every part contributed to the whole, Dominic established the lay brothers to provide for the material well-being of the friars and the women as the contemplative counterpart to the Order. The Dominican women expressed the charism differently from the men, as befitted their times. Yet these early women knew very well that they, too, were The Holy Preaching.
They would continually engage God, wresting from God all the blessings that the Order needed. They ministered to the psychological and spiritual needs of the friars. Their convents, serving as havens for rest and the recharging of energies for the men, were also places of active preaching. The women preached to one another and to other heretical women Dominic sent to them. The nuns and the friars, engaging in disputatio (more on this later), further shaped the Truth being preached. Thus, women have been from the first an organic part of The Holy Preaching. Wherever Dominic founded a friary for the men he founded also a convent for women. God called Dominic to start a new evangelization that would later acquire universal horizons.