Saint Thomas Aquinas

St Thomas Aquinas was an Italian philosopher born in 1225 to a noble family in Roccasecca, Italy; he was the youngest of his eight siblings. In line with the traditions at that time, Thomas was sent to the Abbey of Monte Cassino, to train with The Dominican Monks, at only a tender age of five. St. Thomas Aquinas stayed and trained with the monks at the monastery until the age of thirteen when he was forced to leave due to turbulent political climate.

In the fall of 1239, Thomas Aquinas began his studies in the University of Naples from where it is believed he was introduced to his philosophical influences. At the University, Thomas also met a Dominican priest known as John of St. Juliet who also influenced him greatly. St. Thomas Aquinas soon joined a new religious order known as the Dominicans or the order of preachers; a decision that was frowned upon by his family, especially his parents. To change his mind, St Thomas Aquinas’ parents asked his elder brothers to bring him home. He came home as per his parents’ wishes but refused their persuasion to back down from the new order of which now he was a part of. One story has it that St Thomas Aquinas was placed under house arrest by his parents for refusing to heed their advice; then at one point his family sent a prostitute to his room to dissuade him from joining the order, Thomas was so upset that he chased the prostitute with a hot iron. That same night he was visited by two angels who strengthened his resolve to remain celibate. Thomas family relented and were forced to let him go to which he returned to the Dominicans.

In 1245, St. Thomas Aquinas went to study in the faculty of arts in the University of Paris where it is believed that He met a Dominican Scholar, Alberta Magnus also known as Saint Albert the Great who assisted him a great deal in earning a theological doctorate.

By the time he was 23, St Thomas Aquinas taught alongside his mentor, Saint Albert the Great, et the University of Cologne. Thereafter, St Thomas Aquinas committed himself to a life of travelling, teaching, writing, public speaking, and preaching.

In the middle of the 13th century A.D., St. Thomas Aquinas was ordained as a priest in Cologne Germany and went on to teach theology in the University of Paris. As a priest, Thomas displayed great skill and enthusiasm in his work. Soon, universities and other religious institutions yearned to benefit and imbibe from the wisdom of this gifted Christian apostle.
Thomas’ approach towards his craft was that of combining traditional principles of theology and contemporary philosophical thought. His treaties touched upon the questions and struggles of medieval scholars, church authorities, as well as the common man. He believed that it is possible to combine both faith and reason and that it was alright to have both, he emphasized that both came from God. This theory came to be known as ‘scholasticism.’

Saint Thomas Aquinas strongly believed that people could prove of God’s existence in the following ways; that both cause and effect were under God’s control, that all global movement was as a result of God’s doing, that human intelligence was a gift from God, that God was an all powerful God and that people could earn admission into heaven by adherence to government and moral laws.

Because of his teachings and preaching, St. Thomas Aquinas became very influential, a lot of people agreed with him on almost all the issues he addressed. Thomas continued to write and preach, it is said that he published around 200 books in less than one decade. In 1272, St. Thomas Aquinas published some of his most famous works yet; ‘summa theological. Thomas Aquinas then returned to the University of Naples where he established a Dominican House of studies and took the region master post.

There are sources which indicate that there was a Dominican brother during the times of Saint Aquinas, his contemporary, who recorded in his diary that he saw Saint Thomas Aquinas levitating while praying in the chapel. Other friars corroborated this account by revealing and testifying other more or less miraculous events surrounding The Saint during his lifetime.

One morning, following a mass celebration, it is said that Saint Thomas Aquinas experienced an epiphany, and from then on refused to write ever again. It is said a vision of Christ appeared to him and said, “You have written well of me, Thomas. What reward would you have for your labor?’” to which he replied “nothing but you lord.” After this encounter, Thomas seems to have recognized how infinitely superior the knowledge and wisdom bequeathed upon him by Christ was compared to anything he had ever known. Three months later, In March 7th of 1274 he passed on; he was 49 years of age.

Saint Thomas Aquinas is recognized and celebrated for his attempts to reconcile religion with science; he taught the western civilization and to an extent, the whole world that greater universal truths could be accessed not only by Christians but any other human being who had interest and was inclined in that direction. He took a universal approach to spirituality and accommodated the views of other groups unique to Christianity. His original feast day was on March 7th, the day of his death but was later revised to January 28th.

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