Monday, February 14, 2011

SANTO TOMAS DE AQUINO: Priest and Doctor of the Church

Priest & Doctor of the Church

            Saint Thomas was born in Rocca Secca, Italy in 1225 of the family of the Counts of Aquino.  At the age of 17 he received the habit of the Order of Preachers at Naples.  After overcoming by heroic patience and steadfastness the opposition of his family, he was sent first to Cologne to study under Saint Albert the Great, then afterwards to Paris, where in 1256, he obtained the title of Master of Theology.

            A great Dominican teacher, he spent his entire religious life teaching and writing, deriving, as he said, “more light from the crucifix than from books”.  His magnum opus the Summa Theologiae, the greatest exposition of theological thought ever written and became the accepted basis for modern Catholic theology, is but one of the more than a hundred others he penned, all of which he dedicated to investigating the sublime truth of God in the light of faith and the human intellect.  His Eucharistic hymns, composed at the request of Pope Urban IV for the Solemnity of the Feast of Corpus Christi, are among the greatest treasures of the Church.

            The Angelic Doctor was renowned, even during his lifetime, for humility, for holiness and for learning, and is said to have experienced visions, ecstasies and revelations.  He is known on the testimony of his confessor to have preserved throughout his life the grace of virginity.

            Acclaimed the greatest and undisputed master of Christian scholastic theology, he surrendered to God at the Cistercian Abbey of Fossa Nuova, near Terracina, Italy on March 7, 1274 and was canonized by Pope John XXII in 1323. Pope Saint Pius V declared him Doctor of the Church.  Pope Leo XIII named him Patron of Catholic Schools and Pope Pius XI added to his other titles that of Doctor of the Most Holy Eucharist.

O God, you made St. Thomas outstanding by the zeal for sanctity and in the study of the sacred doctrine; grant, we beseech you, that we may understand what he taught and imitate what he did.  This we ask through Christ our Lord.  Amen


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