Thursday, January 28, 2010

Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas - 28 January

From the Medieval Saints Yahoo group:
St. Thomas Aquinas, priest, confessor, Doctor of the Church
Also known as Doctor Angelicus; Doctor Communis; Great Synthesizer; The "Dumb Ox"; The Universal Teacher

Died 1274 at Fossanuova near Terracina of apparent natural causes; relics at Saint-Servin, Toulouse, France

Canonized in 1323 by Pope John XXII and named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius V in 1567

Commemorated January 28

Patronage: academics, against storms, against lightning, apologists, book sellers, Catholic academies, Catholic schools, Catholic universities, chastity, colleges, learning, lightning, pencil makers, philosophers, publishers, scholars, schools, storms, students, theologians, universities, University of Vigo

In art, he is shown as a portly Dominican friar, carrying a book; or with a star on his breast and rays of light coming from his book; or holding a monstrance with Saint Norbert. At times he may be shown: (1) with the sun on his breast; (2) enthroned with pagan and heretic philosophers under his feet; (3) at a teacher's pulpit or desk, with rays coming from him; (4) with a chalice and host; (5) listening to a voice speaking to him from the Crucifix; (6) as angels bring him a girdle; or (7) in a library with Saint Bonaventure who points to the crucifix

St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church, Patron of Catholic Schools

Thomas the Apostle challenged the story that the Lord was risen, and his unbelief brought froth a glowing testimony of the reality of the Resurrection. Twelve centuries later, his namesake, Thomas of Aquino, questioned; without doubting; the great truths of faith, and demonstrated for all time the relationship of faith and reason.

As the first Thomas found by experiment: "Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hands into His side"; that the Man who stood in the midst of them was none other than Jesus Christ, so Thomas, the Angelic Doctor, proved for all time that there is no quarrel between reason and revelation.

Thomas, son of the count of Aquino, (b. 1225-d. 1274) was first trained at the Benedictine abbey of Montecassino, and here, even in childhood, his great mind was wrestling with theological questions, "Master, tell me--what is God?" In order to better to train the boy's mind, his father sent him at an early age to the University of Naples. There he studied under Peter of Ireland and, undisturbed by the noise and wickedness of the great university city, proceeded rapidly on his quest for God.

Meeting the Dominicans, he was strongly attracted by their apostolic life and petitioned to be received as one of them. While recognizing the gifts of the young student, the friars refused him admittance to the Order until he was eighteen. Acting deliberately, without a backward glance at the power and wealth he was leaving, Thomas, at eighteen, joyfully put on the habit of the new Order.

Like many gifted young men, Thomas was bitterly opposed by his family when he attempted to become a religious. When both threats and persuasion failed, he was kidnaped by his brothers and locked in a tower for more than a year. His sisters were sent to influence him, and he proceeded to convert them to his own way of thinking. A woman was sent to tempt him; but he drove her from the room with a burning brand from the fire; afterwards, angels came to gird him with the cincture of perpetual chastity. When captivity failed to break his determination, his brothers relaxed their guard, and Thomas, with the help of his sisters, escaped from the tower and hurried back to his convent.

Thomas was given the finest education available in his day. He studied first at Cologne and later at Paris, under the Master, Albert the Great. This outstanding Dominican teacher and saint became his lifelong friend and loyal defender. They taught at Cologne and became a mutual influence for good in one of the most beautiful friendships in Dominican history.

For the rest of his life, Thomas was to teach and preach with scarcely a day of rest. What makes the amount of writing he did remarkable, was the great deal of traveling that he undertook. Death found him in a familiar place, on the road, where he was bound for the Council of Lyons in obedience to the pope's command. He died at the Cistercian Abbey of Fossanova, in a borrowed bed, obscurity hardly fitting the
intellectual light of the Order, but perfectly suited to the humble friar that Thomas had always been.

Overheard in a colloquy with the Master he served so well with heart and mind and pen, Thomas was heard to ask as his reward from the Lord, "Thyself, 0 Lord, none but thyself!" St. Thomas Aquinas is a Doctor of the Church and is honored as the patron of Catholic Schools. He is celebrated in the Church Calendar on January 28th.


Saint Thomas experienced visions, ecstasies, and revelations. He stopped writing the Summa theologiae because of a revelation he experienced while saying Mass on the feast of Saint Nicholas 1273. He confronted the consternation of his brethren saying, "The end of my labors is come. All that I have written appears to be as so much straw after the things that have been, revealed to me." Nevertheless, the work became the basis of modern Catholic theology. (full article at )


More on St. Thomas Aquinas at:

My Comments:
St. Thomas Aquinas is of special significance to me, as Sarah and I were received into the Catholic Church at St. Thomas Aquinas parish in Charlottesville, VA.

The Apotheosis of St. Thomas Aquinas by Francisco Zurbarán

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