Tuesday, August 16, 2011


St Thomas was born about 1225 [exact date unknown] at Rocca Secca near Aquino.  He was educated from the age of five to thirteen at the monastery of Monte Cassino [founded by St Benedict], and later at the university of Naples.  While in Naples he met and was attracted by the Dominican friars.  He planned to join their order and at the age of about 19 he was received and clothed in the habit of the order.  This caused great indignation in his home partly because the Dominicans were mendicants [an order that worked but also begged for their living].  His family captured him and kept him under house arrest for almost 2 years, but finally the family gave up and in 1245 allowed him to return to his order.
In 1245 St Thomas set off for Paris to do his novitiate with the Dominicans.  St Albert the great became St Thomas's teacher in Paris.  St Albert immediately saw the great intellect and holiness in Thomas.  At Naples and Paris Thomas studied the writings of the great Christian thinkers, the Fathers of the Church, also he studied the writings of great Muslim scholars such as Avicenna and of important Jewish thinkers such as Moses Maimonides.  Above all he studied the writings of Aristotle who, became for him, simply, 'the philosopher'.
St Albert took St Thomas to Cologne where Thomas completed his studies.  At Cologne he was nicknamed 'The Dumb Ox' because of his silent ways and huge size, but he was really a brilliant student.
He completed his studies with St Albert and then returned to Paris to begin his career as a teacher at the university.  After 4 years Thomas was appointed professor of Theology in 1256.  St Thomas was sent back to Italy in 1259 where he stayed for 10 years.  About this time he started the most important work of his life his 'Summa Theologica' this writing which fills about 5 volumes is a comprehensive statement of his mature thought on all the Christian mysteries.
In 1272 St Thomas was recalled to Naples as regent of studies.  Here on 6th December he experienced a revelation of God, after which he dictated no more, but said that all he had written in comparison to what he had seen was like so much straw.  So leaving his great work 'Summa Theologiae' unfinished.
He died on his way to the Council of Lyons on 7th March 1274.  He was about 49 years old.
St Thomas was not only a great writer, but a man full of humility, gentle, kind full of the Holy Spirit.  He was able to write about sublime things clearly, this is why he has the title 'Angelic Doctor'.  St Thomas was canonized in 1323.  St Pius V conferred on him the title Doctor of the Church on 15th April 1567.

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