Collection: St. Thomas Aquinas

ARTIST: Julie Lonneman


Thomas Aquinas was a philosopher and Dominican priest who is considered by many to be the Church's greatest theologian. His best known work, the Summa Theologica, summarizes the reasoning for almost all points of the Catholic faith. In 1273, he received a mystical experience at Mass that caused him to abandon the Summa, declaring that all his writings were "just a big pile of straw." Proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1567, he is also the patron saint of Catholic universities, colleges, and schools. "Love takes up where knowledge leaves off."
—Saint Thomas Aquinas

Italy, c. 1225-1274.

His feast day is January 28.

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Thomas was the son of the Count of Aquino, born in the family castle in Lombardy near Naples. He was educated by Benedictine monks at Monte Cassino, and at the University of Naples. He secretly joined the mendicant Dominican friars in 1244. His noble family kidnapped and imprisoned him for a year to keep him out of sight, and deprogram him, but he rejoined his order in 1245.

He studied in Paris from 1245-1248 under Saint Albert the Great, then accompanied Albertus to Cologne. Thomas was ordained in 1250, then returned to Paris to teach. He taught 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. He won his doctorate, and taught in several Italian cities. Thomas was recalled by king and university to Paris in 1269, then recalled to Naples in 1272 where he was appointed regent of studies while working on the Summa Theologica.

On 6 December 1273 he 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. He died four months later 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. He was proclaimed Doctor of the Church in 1567.

Born: c.1225 at Roccasecca, Aquino, Naples, Italy

Died: March 7, 1274 at Fossanuova near Terracina of apparent natural causes; relics interred at Saint-Servin, Toulouse, France; relics translated to the Church of the Jacobins, Toulouse on October 22, 1974

Canonized: 1323


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.
—Saint Thomas Aquinas

Charity is the form, mover, mother and root of all the virtues.
—Saint Thomas Aquinas

We are like children, who stand in need of masters to enlighten us and direct us; and God has provided for this, by appointing his angels to be our teachers and guides.
—Saint Thomas Aquinas