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January 28

St Thomas Aquinas - January 28

Saint Thomas Aquinas

Doctor of the Church,
“Angelic Doctor”

(Around 1225 – 1323)

“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary.
  To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”

Saint Thomas Aquinas

His Early Life

Thomas (Tommaso in Italian) was born around 1225 (exact year and date not known) in Roccasecca, Aquino, Naples, Italy, to a noble Italian family. In his medieval Italian name, Aquinas is an indicator of his birthplace, not his last name. Thomas’ dad, Count Landulf of Aquino, was a relative of the Holy Roman Emperor and the king of France. His mother was Theodora of Teano. Thomas grew up in a castle. He was the youngest of his eight siblings; three brothers and five sisters.

His sister died by a lightning strike when Thomas was a toddler. Thomas was taking a nap in the same room when lightning struck and killed her. Because of this, Thomas lived a life afraid of storms, carrying a relic of St. Agnus. He prayed to St. Agnus for protection during storms.

His Education

At the age of five, Thomas entered the monastery at Monte Cassino as an Oblate (one who offers himself or herself to God). His family wanted him to become a monk. In 1239, after spending nine years in is spiritual and cultural life at the monastery, Thomas was forced to return home when a conflict broke out between Emperor Frederick II and Pope Gregory IX. The conflict is believed to be because the monks were too obedient to the Pope.

Family Conflict

His family was against Thomas joining the Order of Preachers, Dominican order. His mother had his brothers kidnap Thomas. The family held him captive for a year at the family’s castle in Monte San Giovanni Campano. Here, he tutored his sisters and talked with members of the Dominican Order.

During his year of captivity, his family tried to change his mind about joining the Dominican order. His brothers hired a prostitute to try to seduce him. Snatching from the hearth a burning brand, Thomas drove the wretched woman from his chamber.

After this, two angels appeared to Thomas in a dream and strengthened his position to remain celibate. The family agreed to release him if he agreed to return to Monte Cassino and fulfill what his family wanted of him – to become the abbot. His mother realized that her son was not going to change his mind. So she arranged for Thomas to escape by leaving a window open. This way, she would be able to salvage the family name.

His Education Meeting Saint Albert the Great

Around 1239, Thomas attended the University of Naples. It was here that Thomas first encountered the scientific and philosophical works that were being translated from Greek and Arabic.

At the age of nineteen in 1245, Thomas joined the order of the Dominicans. Then, Thomas was sent to the University of Paris in France. He studied here under Saint Albert the Great from 1245 to 1248. In school, Thomas’s humility and taciturnity were misinterpreted as signs of dullness, but when Saint Albert had heard his brilliant defense of a difficult thesis, he exclaimed: “We call this young man a dumb ox, but his bellowing in doctrine will one day resound throughout the world.”

Then, in 1248, Thomas accompanied Saint Albert the Great to Cologne, Germany. When he completed his education, Thomas taught went with Saint Albert at the new Dominican College in Cologne. As an apprentice professor, Thomas guided students on the books of the Old Testament.

From Cologne, Saint Albert and Saint Thomas walked more than 250 miles to the University of Paris. Here Thomas met and became friends with a young Franciscan monk named Saint Bonaventure, later known as the ‘Seraphic Doctor.’

Ordained and a Theology Professor

Around 1250, Thomas was ordained. He said Mass with such great devotion that he often shed tears. Those who assisted at his Masses always felt themselves moved to greater love for God.

In 1252, Thomas returned to Paris, France to undertake his first teaching appointment at the Dominican monastery of Saint-Jacques. In 1256, Thomas was appointed the regent master in theology teaching theology at the University of Paris. He wrote defenses of the mendicant orders, commentaries on Aristotle and Lombard’s Sentences, and some bible-related works, usually by dictating to secretaries. Thomas finished his doctorate, and taught in several Italian cities. Armed with several university degrees, including a doctorate in theology from the renowned University of Paris, Thomas moved easily from one environment to another.

Thomas was master of theology in Paris in 1256. Then, he taught in Ovieto, Italy (1261-64), Rome, Italy (1265-67), Viterbo, Italy  (1268), Paris, France again (1269-71) and Naples, Italy (1272-74).

His Works – Summa Theologica and Summa Contra Gentiles

In 1263, Thomas was present at a general chapter of the Dominicans in London. It seems almost impossible to believe he could have produced his enormous literary output while travelling as extensively as he did, especially considering the number of authorities he must have studied in order to cite them and the depth of his prayer life as reflected in them. Yet, Thomas was capable of intense concentration and was known to dictate to four secretaries at one time. He frequently used abbreviations in his writings because the friars did not have sufficient supplies of parchment.

Thomas  wrote the Summa Contra Gentiles (1259 – 1265) – the book on the truth of the Catholic faith against the errors of the unbelievers, written as four books.

Thomas also wrote his famous works, Summa Theologica (1265 – 1274), which translates to “Summary of Theology”. The Summa Theologica is often referred to as the Summa. The Summa is a collection of the main theological teachings of the Catholic Church. It is a book for beginner students in theology. Topics of the Summa follow the cycle; God, Creation of Man, Man’s Purpose, Christ, the Sacraments and back to God. The Summa is “one of the classics of the history of philosophy and one of the most influential works of Western literature.” Thomas died before the completion of the Summa.

Thomas conducted a series of disputations between 1270 and 1272: De virtutibus in communi (On Virtues in General), De virtutibus cardinalibus (On Cardinal Virtues), and De spe (On Hope).

Regent in Naples Who Stopped Writing

In 1272, Thomas took leave from the University of Paris when the Dominicans from his home province called upon him to establish a studium generale wherever he liked and staff it as he pleased. He chose to establish the institution in Naples and moved there to take his post as regent master.

On December 6, 1273, Thomas experienced a divine revelation which so enraptured him that he abandoned the Summa, saying that it and his other writing were so much straw in the wind compared to the reality of the divine glory.

His Death

Four months later on March 7, 1274, Thomas died at the Fossanuova monastery near Terracina, Italy of apparent natural causes while en route to the Council of Lyons, overweight and with his health broken by overwork.

His works have been seminal to the thinking of the Church ever since. They systematized her great thoughts and teaching, and combined Greek wisdom and scholarship methods with the truth of Christianity. Pope Leo VIII commanded that his teachings be studied by all theology students. Thomas was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1567. He was called “the Angelic Doctor” for his superior intellect was combined with the tenderest piety. Prayer, he said, taught him more than study.

In art, Saint Thomas is depicted as a portly Dominican friar, carrying a book; or with a star on his breast and rays of light coming from his book.

Born :                   Around 1225 in Roccasecca, Aquino, Naples, Italy

Died:                    March 7, 1274 in Fossanuova near Terracina, Italy

Beatified:            Unknown

Canonized:         July 18, 1323 by Pope John XXII

Feast Day:          January 28 (formerly March 7)

Patron Saint:    Academics; Against Lightning; Against Storms; Apologists; Aquino, Italy; Booksellers; Catholic Schools and Universities; Faro, Portugal; Learning; Pencil Makers; Philosophers; Theologians

Source:

Reflection 

Saint Thomas Aquinas’ life and work invite us to engage in rigorous intellectual inquiry while remaining deeply rooted in faith. He exemplifies the harmony between faith and reason and encourages us to seek a deeper understanding of God and the world. A prolific writer, Saint Thomas Aquinas penned close to 60 known works ranging in length from short to tome-like while travelling and teaching. Yet for all his intelligence, Saint Thomas Aquinas was a man of great humility who thought poorly of his works that are still studied today – almost a thousand years later.

What amazing works can God have you do today to shine his light onto everyone you encounter? Like Saint Thomas Aquinas, the grace of God can be fill us with the Holy Spirit to do heavenly things on earth beyond our wildest imagination.

Prayers

Saint Thomas Aquinas, intercede for us and guide us on our journey of faith and understanding.

Guide us, like you, to harmonize our faith with reason and to deepen our understanding of the divine. Help us to see the beauty in the union of faith and intellectual inquiry, recognizing that our pursuit of knowledge can lead us closer to God.

May we, like you, seek wisdom not for its own sake, but as a means to know and love God more fully. Pray for us, that we may grow in faith, reason, and holiness, and that we may use our knowledge for the greater glory of God and the well-being of all.

Saint Thomas Aquinas, pray for us. Amen.

 

Prayer by Saint Thomas Aquinas

“Grant me, O Lord my God,
a mind to know you,
a heart to seek you,
wisdom to find you,
conduct pleasing to you,
faithful perseverance in waiting for you,
and a hope of finally embracing you.”

 

Prayer for Guidance by St. Thomas Aquinas

O creator past all telling,
you have appointed from the treasures of your wisdom
the hierarchies of angels,
disposing them in wondrous order
above the bright heavens,
and have so beautifully set out all parts of the universe.
You we call the true fount of wisdom
and the noble origin of all things.
Be pleased to shed
on the darkness of mind in which I was born,
The twofold beam of your light
and warmth to dispel my ignorance and sin.
You make eloquent the tongues of children.
Then instruct my speech
and touch my lips with graciousness.
Make me keen to understand, quick to learn,
able to remember;
make me delicate to interpret and ready to speak.
Guide my going in and going forward,
lead home my going forth.
You are true God and true man,
and live for ever and ever.

Saint Links 

Aleteia – St. Thomas Aquinas was canonized 700 years ago

All Saints & Martyrs – Saint Thomas Aquinas – Doctor of the Church

Bartleby – Rev. Alban Butler. Volume III: March. The Lives of the Saints. 1866. March 7 St. Thomas of Aquino, Doctor of the Church and Confessor

Catholic Exchange – Saint Thomas Aquinas

Catholic Fire – St. Thomas Aquinas: The Angelic Doctor

Catholic Ireland – St Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274 AD)

Catholic News Agency – St. Thomas Aquinas Feast day: Jan 28

Catholic Online – St. Thomas Aquinas

CatholicSaints.Info – Golden Legend – Life of Saint Thomas Aquinas

Franciscan Media – Saint Thomas Aquinas

Loyola Press – Saint Thomas Aquinas Feast day January 28

National Catholic Register – St. Thomas Aquinas and Bishop Robert Barron by Father John P. Cush

New Advent –  Kennedy, D. (1912). St. Thomas Aquinas. In The Catholic Encyclopedia

Reason2bCatholic – Saints Alive! | St Thomas Aquinas

Saints, Feast, Family – Saint Thomas Aquinas’ Story

Saints for Sinners – Thomas Aquinas, Saint Medal, Patron Saint of Writers and Teachers

Saint Mary’s Press – Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)

Saint Resources – Thomas Aquinas

Sanctoral – Saint Thomas Aquinas Doctor of the Church (1225-1274)

uCatholic – Saint Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church

Video Link

Saint Thomas Aquinas, the Scholar – YouTube (CatholicSaints.Info)

Bishop Barron on Thomas Aquinas’ Writing – YouTube (Bishop Robert Barron)

St. Thomas Aquinas – YouTube (Catholic Online)