SAINT THOMAS AQUINAS (c.1225-1274), priest and Doctor of the Church – Patron saint of academics, philosophers, theologians and Catholic schools and universities
Today, the universal Church honors Saint Thomas Aquinas. When most people think of Saint Thomas, they think of the Summa Theologica. However, the saint wrote much more than this one great but unfinished work in his short lifetime, and is considered the preeminent spokesman of the Catholic tradition of reason and of Divine revelation.
Thomas was born about the year 1225 in Aquino, a town in southern Italy from which he takes his surname. He was the son of a well-connected, wealthy family who sent him to be educated at the Benedictine Monastery of Monte Cassino near Rome, Italy. The boy was quite astute, and surprised his spiritual director by asking, “What is God?”
Eventually, young Thomas chose to enter the Dominican order. His family, however, did not approve of his action, and took drastic steps to dissuade him, such as having him detained by his own brothers who were soldiers and who tried to corrupt his virtue by sending a beautiful temptress to weaken him. Thomas was able to overcome the temptation and was eventually able to pursue his vocation.
He made his profession of vows to the Order and was sent to Paris and then Cologne, Germany, to continue his studies, and it was in Cologne where he was ordained to the priesthood in the year 1250. Friar Thomas Aquinas surpassed all his tutors in wisdom and knowledge, and it was also during this time that he earned his nickname the “dumb ox” because he was rather silent, and also quite large.
He was then sent back to Paris, where he earned his doctorate at the age of 31. He spent the rest of his life studying, praying, teaching, writing and traveling. Friar Aquinas is said to have been able to dictate to more than one scribe at a time. Thus, of all the works attributed to him, not all of them were written in his own handwriting, which explains the 60 works he produced in his short lifetime
He died on March 7, 1274 from natural causes, and was canonized a saint by Pope John XXII on July 18, 1323 – less than 50 years after Thomas’ death.
We commemorate his feastday on January 28, the day his mortal remains were transferred to Toulouse, France, in 1369.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, americancatholic.org, catholicculture.org, ccel.org and newadvent.org)
(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Proper for Saint Thomas Aquinas)
“God our Father, You made Thomas Aquinas known for his holiness and learning. Help us to grow in wisdom by his teaching, and in holiness by imitating his faith.
“Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”