Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274): Feast: March 7

Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)


Feast: March 7

Thomas the Apostle challenged the story that the Lord was risen, and his unbelief brought forth 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 hand 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, was first trained at the Benedictine abbey of Montecassino, and here, even in childhood, his great mind was wrestling with theological problems.  His passion for truth is expressed in his constant question, “Master, tell me—what is God?”

Better to train the boy’s mind, his father sent him at an early age to the University of Naples.  Here 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 a gifted young man, Thomas was bitterly opposed by his family when he attempted to become a religious.  Both threats and persuasion failing, he was kidnapped by his brothers and locked in a tower for more than a year.  His sisters were sent in to influence him, and he proceeded to convert them to his own way of thinking.  A woman was sent in to tempt him; 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.  The captivity having failed to break the determination, his brothers relaxed their guard, and Thomas, with the help of his sisters, escaped from the tower and hurried back to his convent.

Given the finest education that his time could offer, Thomas studied first in Cologne (Germany), and later at Paris, under Master Albert the Great.  This outstanding Dominican teacher and saint became his lifelong friend and loyal defender.  They taught together 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.  He traveled continually, which makes all the more remarkable the amount of writing he did.  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, “Thyself, O Lord, none but Thyself!”

From the book, Saint Dominic’s family,

By sister Mary-Jean Dorcy O.P.

Dominican sister of the Holy Cross

Dubuque (Iowa), The Priory Press, 1964

Also see the article Saint Thomas Aquinas in today’s combat for the faith  on this website

Saint Dominic, Knight of the Truth

Saint Dominic



Knight of the Truth

Liturgical Feast : August 4

Saint Dominic’s chief glory among men lies in the broad and free spirit bequeathed to the threefold religious family of friars, nuns and tertiaries which perpetuates in our times the apostolate of spreading of the Truth and of fight against the errors and against those who spread them, inaugurated by him in the thirteenth century.

What, then, was this spirit which he gave to his followers and which is the special mark of his genius ?

Briefly, we may say the essence of this spirit is embodied in his intellectual ideal, which distinguished Saint Dominic among the great leaders who, by several fashions of religious life, have founded in the Church institutes to lead souls Godward.

By no mere accident the motto of his religious family is « Truth », for this word touches the magic appeal of saint Dominic’s heart. Were we to choose a text to express the peculiar mold of his genius, we could find none better than the Saviour’s words : « The Truth shall make you free » (Jn 8, 32). He aimed at truth and attained freedom of soul. Consequently, he zealously fought against the errors which destroyed truth in the souls : a good pastor doesn’t only gives pasture to his flock. He also protects it against the wolves. If not, he cannot be called a good pastor. He is a mercenary !

The long student life of Saint Dominic at Palencia (Spanish famous University of this time), his years of contemplation as canon of the cathedral of Osma (Spain), his apostolic preaching in Languedoc (south of France) against the Cathars, his dispersion of the brethren (August 15, 1217) to the University centers just after the foundation of the Order (December 22, 1216), and finally the astounding influence which his friars straightway exercised at these power-houses of learning – all these facts bring out strikingly clear the intellectual mission of Saint Dominic and of the Order he founded.

And moreover, was it not this mark of his genius that, in the thirteenth century, charmed the most virile intellect of Europe, Saint Thomas Aquinas ?

The secret of Saint Dominic’s holiness, then, was his fast-knit friendship with Christ, who is the Truth, the model of perfect spiritual freedom, the freedom of the children of God.

(From the book Dominican saints, by Dominican novices, Washington D.C., The Rosary Press, Dominican Publications, 1921.  Slightly revised by the Dominican Fathers of Avrillé.)

Liturgical prayers to our blessed father, Saint Dominic

O Lumen Ecclésiae,

Doctor veritátis,

Rosa patiéntiæ,

Ebur castitátis,

Aquam sapiéntiae

Propinásti gratis;

Prædicátor grátiæ,

Nos junge beátis.

Light of the Church,

Teacher of truth,

Rose of patience,

Ivory of chastity:

Thou didst freely pour forth

the waters of wisdom;

Preacher of grace,

unite us to the blessed !

O SPEM MIRAM, quam dedísti mortis hora te fléntibus, dum post mortem promisísti te profutúrum frátribus ! Imple, Pater, quod dixísti, nos tuis juvans précibus.

V. Qui tot signis claruísti in ægrórum corpóribus, nobis opem ferens Christi, ægris medére móribus. Imple, Pater, quod dixísti, nos tuis juvans précibus.

R. Glória Patri et Fílio et Spirítui Sancto. Imple, Pater, quod dixísti, nos tuis juvans précibus.

SWEET THE HOPE thy fainting breath

Gave to those who wept thy death,

Promising, though life were flown,

Thou wouldst still protect Thine own,

Father, keep that gracious word

Pleading for us with our Lord.

V. Who so oft was wont to shine

Midst the sick with powers divine,

To our languid souls apply

Christ’s restoring remedy.

Father, keep that gracious word,

Pleading for us with Our Lord.

R. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son,

and to the Holy Ghost

Father, keep that gracious word,

Pleading for us with Our Lord.