Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Traditional Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas


Triumph of St. Thomas Aquinas by Andrea di Bonaiuto (1366AD)

Today is the traditional feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, Dominican and Doctor of the Church -- he died on this day in 1274AD.  The Angelic Doctor, as he is known, is the patron saint of Catholic Schools and Scholars.

St. Thomas Aquinas was born at Roccasecca, a town in Italy located between Rome and Naples, son of the Count of Aquino.  He was educated early on by the Benedictine Monks of Monte Cassino, from 1230-1239.  He would be a student at the University of Naples from 1239-1244, there coming into contact with members of the new Order of Preachers.  He would join the order in 1244, much to the dismay of his family, who wished a more exalted position in the Church for their son.  Indeed, he was detained and confined by his own family for a year, finally released in 1245AD when it became clear that his determination to be a Dominican could not be swayed.

From 1245-1248, St. Thomas would be a student of fellow Dominican St. Albert the Great at the University of Paris, and acts as both student and assistant from 1248-1252 at the University of Cologne.  St. Thomas Aquinas was ordained a priest around 1250-1251, and received his Master of Theology in 1256.

He would be a regent Master at Paris from 1256-1259, and then resident in Italy from 1259-1268.  It was during that time, in 1264, that he composed the liturgy for the new Feast of Corpus Christi.  He would return to Paris for a short time, 1268-1272, ending his career in Naples.  St. Thomas Aquinas would die on his way to the Second Ecumenical Council of Lyon, summoned by Pope Blessed Gregory X in 1274.  He died on 7 March 1274AD.

He was canonized in 1323 by Pope John XXII, and named a Doctor of the Church in 1567AD by Pope St. Pius V.

In 1923, Pope Pius XI wrote an entire encyclical letter on the subject of St. Thomas Aquinas, Studiorum Ducem, which you can find here: Pius XI: Studiorum Ducem

For more details, you might note these sites:
Old Catholic Encyclopedia: St. Thomas Aquinas

Catholic Saints Info: St. Thomas Aquinas

Butler's Lives of the Saints: St. Thomas Aquinas

Here is a site with information on the Church where he is buried in Toulouse: Toulouse: Church of Les Jacobins

Have you read some St. Thomas Aquinas lately? The Successors of St. Peter have been rather direct in their recommendation of the Angelic Doctor. You can find the full text of his splendid Summa Theologiae here: Summa Theologiae: Full Text

Also worthy of note, especially in a world of Gentiles, is the Summa Contra Gentiles of St. Thomas, which is concerned with presenting arguments that would be comprehensible for those not Christian: Summa Contra Gentiles: Full Text


St. Thomas Aquinas, from the Carafa Chapel of the Basilica of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, Rome, 
by Filippino Lippi, ca. 1490.


Here are a few notable quotations on St. Thomas from recent Popes:

POPE LEO XIII – Aeterni Patris (1879)
17…With his spirit at once humble and swift, his memory ready and tenacious, his life spotless throughout, a lover of truth for its own sake, richly endowed with human and divine science, like the sun he heated the world with the warmth of his virtues and filled it with the splendor of his teaching. Philosophy has no part which he did not touch finely at once and thoroughly; on the laws of reasoning, on God and incorporeal substances, on man and other sensible things, on human actions and their principles, he reasoned in such a manner that in him there is wanting neither a full array of questions, nor an apt disposal of the various parts, nor the best method of proceeding, nor soundness of principles or strength of argument, nor clearness and elegance of style, nor a facility for explaining what is abstruse.



18.…Again, clearly distinguishing, as is fitting, reason from faith, while happily associating the one with the other, he both preserved the rights and had regard for the dignity of each; so much so, indeed, that reason, borne on the wings of Thomas to its human height, can scarcely rise higher, while faith could scarcely expect more or stronger aids from reason than those which she has already obtained through Thomas.



21.…while to these judgments of great Pontiffs on Thomas Aquinas comes the crowning testimony of Innocent VI: "His teaching above that of others, the canonical writings alone excepted, enjoys such a precision of language, an order of matters, a truth of conclusions, that those who hold to it are never found swerving from the path of truth, and he who dare assail it will always be suspected of error."



22.…But the chief and special glory of Thomas, one which he has shared with none of the Catholic Doctors, is that the Fathers of Trent made it part of the order of conclave to lay upon the altar, together with sacred Scripture and the decrees of the supreme Pontiffs, the Summa of Thomas Aquinas, whence to seek counsel, reason, and inspiration.


POPE PIUS XI – Studiorum Ducem (1923)
27. Again, if we are to avoid the errors which are the source and fountain-head of all the miseries of our time, the teaching of Aquinas must be adhered to more religiously than ever. For Thomas refutes the theories propounded by Modernists in every sphere, in philosophy, by protecting, as We have reminded you, the force and power of the human mind and by demonstrating the existence of God by the most cogent arguments



28. Accordingly, just as it was said to the Egyptians of old in time of famine: "Go to Joseph," so that they should receive a supply of corn from him to nourish their bodies, so We now say to all such as are desirous of the truth: "Go to Thomas," and ask him to give you from his ample store the food of substantial doctrine wherewith to nourish your souls unto eternal life.



POPE JOHN PAUL II – Fides et Ratio (1998)
43. A quite special place in this long development belongs to Saint Thomas, not only because of what he taught but also because of the dialogue which he undertook with the Arab and Jewish thought of his time. In an age when Christian thinkers were rediscovering the treasures of ancient philosophy, and more particularly of Aristotle, Thomas had the great merit of giving pride of place to the harmony which exists between faith and reason. Both the light of reason and the light of faith come from God, he argued; hence there can be no contradiction between them.

Live well...and Go to Thomas!

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