St. Thomas Aquinas

About Saint Thomas Aquinas

Tapestry of St. Thomas AquinasWhen we think of the Order of Dominican priests, brothers, and sisters we think primarily of theologians, teachers, and social workers. We recognize the Dominicans as a highly respected community which is doing great work for Jesus Christ in their ministries.

They were not so respected in the days of St. Thomas Aquinas. Thomas was a member of one of the most important aristocratic families in Italy. His family did not mind that he had a religious vocation, they placed him in the Benedictine community at Monte Cassino at the age of five. They saw him with his political connections as one day becoming the abbot. This was a highly prestigious position at the time.

Instead Thomas wanted to be a Dominican. At the time both the Dominicans and Franciscans were new communities who preached and did ministry in the cities, depending on daily contributions for their needs. In the mind of Thomas’ family, it would be like he was joining a fringe group with no social prestige at all.

Thomas was imprisoned by his family so he could come to his senses. Patiently he outlasted his family, and he was finally allowed to rejoin the Dominicans.

Thomas was a quiet, studious young man who became the butt of the jokes of his classmates who gave him the nickname “the Dumb Ox”. One day he was called to the window by his classmates who told him that a cart being pulled by a donkey was flying down the street. When he came to the window, they laughed at him because of his naïveté. Thomas said he would rather believe that a donkey could fly than that a Dominican could lie.

Thomas’s intellectual gifts were recognized by his teacher Albert the Great who prophesied that the “Dumb Ox” would bellow so loud that his voice would fill the world.

And so it proved to be. St. Thomas became a prolific author and teacher, his most important works the Summa Theologica , a summary of the Catholic faith, and the Summa Contra Gentiles, a manual for missionaries to explain the faith for unbelievers. Thomas was so prolific that, at one time had three secretaries simultaneously transcribing his notes as he spoke.

Thomas remained a prolific writer until he had a mystical experience of Jesus praising him for his writings and asking Thomas what he wanted in life. Thomas responded, “Only you!” Later Thomas said to a friend that after that experience he felt that all that he had written was “only straw.”
St. Thomas died in 1254, worn out by his labors, going to Jesus whom he so faithfully served in life.
The feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas is January 28. He is the patron saint of universities and of students.

Shop St. Thomas Aquinas Medals and Rosaries

More About Saint Thomas Aquinas

Image of St. Thomas Aquinas teching
Image of St. Thomas Aquinas depicting him as a great instructor. Bishops, Cardinals, Priest and others.

Perhaps you have heard of St. Thomas Aquinas as the Patron saint of Catholic schools – or maybe you heard his name in a philosophy or theology class – or perhaps you have even heard him called “the dumb ox”! As a great saint and Doctor of the church, St. Thomas Aquinas was a very bright, virtuous, and humble man whose example and writings are still admired and studied to this day.

Saint Thomas Aquinas was born in 1226 in Roccasecca, Italy. His father, Landulph, was the Count of Aquino, and his mother, Theodora, was also part of a powerful . When he was young, his father sent him to live with the Benedictines at Monte Cassino. As a student, he was a very quick learner. He quickly surpassed the other students in both knowledge and virtue. As he grew he felt God calling him to the religious life, which disappointed and even angered his family, who prized their wealth and status. His family held him prisoner in one of their castles for a year, trying to persuade him to change his mind. They even sent a woman in, to try to convince him that he should marry rather than take a vow of celibacy. Instead of allowing her in, he took two logs out of the fire and branded a cross on his door, making his intentions very clear. His mother, in an attempt to stop the family contention, helped him to escape in the night through a window. St. Thomas Aquinas fled to meet with Johannes von Wildeshausen, the Master General of the Dominican Order in Naples, Italy. He joined the Dominican Order and became a priest.

St. Thomas Aquinas was sent to study under Albert the Great (soon to be known as St. Albert the Great) in Paris. He was a quiet, slow-moving student, which led other students to give him the nickname of the “dumb ox.” Upon hearing this. St. Albert the Great stated, “You call him the dumb ox, but in his teaching he will one day produce such a bellowing that it will be heard throughout the world.” As time passed, St. Thomas Aquinas grew into an extraordinarily gifted professor and writer of theology and philosophy. His works are still highly regarded and studied by many today. He is most famous for his writings entitled the “Summa Theologica,” often referred to simply as “the Summa.” It is said that while writing the third volume of the Summa, St. Thomas Aquinas had a vision in the chapel before an icon of Christ crucified. St. Thomas Aquinas heard Jesus say to him, “You have written well of me, Thomas. What reward would you have for your labor?” St. Thomas Aquinas answered, “Nothing but you, Lord.” After this, St. Thomas Aquinas stated that he would not continue writing, for “all I have written seems like straw to me.” It is said that his mystical experience with Christ was so great that his words would never be sufficient to describe the glory and majesty of God.

While traveling along the Appian Way to meet with Pope Gregory X at the Second Council of Lyons, St. Thomas Aquinas was struck in the head by a falling branch while riding his donkey. He fell ill and was taken to Monte Cassino to recover. After resting, he began traveling again, then stopped at the Cistercian Fossanova Abbey where the monks nursed him for several days. As he received his last rites he prayed, “I receive Thee, ransom of my soul. For love of thee have I studied and kept vigil, toiled, preached, and taught.” St. Thomas Aquinas died on March 7, 1274. His remains are entombed at the Church of the Jacobins in Toulouse, France. Fifty years after his death, Pope John XXII, while seated in Avignon, France, declared Thomas a saint. He was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius V. Because of his perfect chastity, St. Thomas Aquinas has been given the title of the “Angelic Doctor.” His feast day is celebrated on January 28, which is the date his relics were transferred to Toulouse, France.

Patronage of St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Thomas Aquinas is mainly patron of educational and theological pursuits and persons, due to his great intellect and expansive writings. Among these patronages are the following: academics, book sellers, Catholic schools, colleges/universities, philosophers, publishers, students, and theologians. In addition to these patronages, he is also the patron saint of chastity, since he maintained his purity with great zeal throughout his life.

Religious Medal featuring St Thomas Aquinas
Religious Medal featuring St Thomas Aquinas

St. Thomas Aquinas in Art

St. Thomas Aquinas is often featured with particular symbols in artwork. Some of the most common symbols seen with him are a dove speaking into his ear, a book, a star or the sun, an ox, or an image of him teaching. The dove speaking into his ear represents the divine guidance he received while writing. The book is to represent the many works he penned. The star or sun is to show the light of his intellect, as well as the divine light which inspired his writing. The ox is in reference to the nickname he received from his classmates – “the dumb ox.” And of course, the image of him teaching is to show both that he was a professor and preacher who taught people in person, but also that his writings continue to teach and inspire people today.

Medal of St. Thomas Aquinas

St Thomas Aquinas Medals

Medals of Saint Thomas Aquinas frequently show him at work on a book with the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove at his ear.

Prayers of St. Thomas Aquinas

Let Saint Thomas Aquinas be your partner in prayer as you say one of the prayers below or as part of your rosary devotion.

Devoutly I Adore Thee (Adoro te devote)

O Godhead hid, devoutly I adore Thee,
Who truly art within the forms before me;
To Thee my heart I bow with bended knee,
As failing quite in contemplating Thee.

Sight, touch, and taste in Thee are each deceived;
The ear alone most safely is believed:
I believe all the Son of God has spoken,
Than Truth’s own word there is no truer token.

God only on the Cross lay hid from view;
But here lies hid at once the Manhood too;
And I, in both professing my belief,
Make the same prayer as the repentant thief.

Thy wounds, as Thomas saw, I do not see;
Yet Thee confess my Lord and God to be:
Make me believe Thee ever more and more;
In Thee my hope, in Thee my love to store.

O thou Memorial of our Lord’s own dying!
O Bread that living art and vivifying!
Make ever Thou my soul on Thee to live;
Ever a taste of Heavenly sweetness give.

O loving Pelican! O Jesu, Lord!
Unclean I am, but cleanse me in Thy Blood;
Of which a single drop, for sinners spilt,
Is ransom for a world’s entire guilt.

Jesu! Whom for the present veil’d I see,
What I so thirst for, O vouchsafe to me:
That I may see Thy countenance unfolding,
And may be blest Thy glory in beholding. Amen.

(By St. Thomas Aquinas)

Vision of Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas Vision

Tantum Ergo Sacramentum

Down in adoration falling,
Lo! The Sacred Host we hail.
Lo! o’er ancient forms departing,
Newer rites of Grace prevail:
Faith for all defects supplying,
Where the feeble senses fail.

To The Everlasting Father
And The Son Who reigns on high,
With The Spirit blessed proceeding
Forth, from Each eternally,
Be salvation, honor, blessing,
Might and endless majesty. Amen.

(By St. Thomas Aquinas)

O Salutaris Hostia

O saving Victim, opening wide,
The gate of heaven to man below!
Our foes press on from every side;
Thine aid supply, thy strength bestow.
To Thy great name by endless praise,
Immortal Godhead, one in Three;
Oh, grant us endless length of days,
In our true native land with Thee. Amen

(By St. Thomas Aquinas)

Pange Lingua

Sing, my tongue, the Savior’s glory,
of His flesh the mystery sing;
of the Blood, all price exceeding,
shed by our immortal King,
destined, for the world’s redemption,
from a noble womb to spring.
Of a pure and spotless Virgin
born for us on earth below,
He, as Man, with man conversing,
stayed, the seeds of truth to sow;
then He closed in solemn order
wondrously His life of woe.
On the night of that Last Supper,
seated with His chosen band,
He the Pascal victim eating,
first fulfills the Law’s command;
then as Food to His Apostles
gives Himself with His own hand.
Word-made-Flesh, the bread of nature
by His word to Flesh He turns;
wine into His Blood He changes;
what though sense no change discerns?
Only be the heart in earnest,
faith her lesson quickly learns.
Down in adoration falling,
Lo! the sacred Host we hail;
Lo! o’er ancient forms departing,
newer rites of grace prevail;
faith for all defects supplying,
where the feeble senses fail.
To the everlasting Father,
and the Son who reigns on high,
with the Holy Ghost proceeding
forth from Each eternally,
be salvation, honor, blessing,
might and endless majesty. Amen.

(By St. Thomas Aquinas)

Thomas Aquinas and the Angels
Thomas Aquinas and the Angels

Prayer Before Communion

Almighty and ever-living God, I approach the sacrament of your only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
I come sick to the doctor of life, unclean to the fountain of mercy, blind to the radiance of eternal light,
and poor and needy to the Lord of heaven and earth.
Lord, in your great generosity, heal my sickness, wash away my defilement, enlighten my blindness,
enrich my poverty, and clothe my nakedness.

May I receive the bread of angels, the King of kings and Lord of lords, with humble reverence,
with the purity and faith, the repentance and love, and the determined purpose that will help to bring me to salvation.
May I receive the sacrament of the Lord’s Body and Blood, and its reality and power.

Kind God, may I receive the Body of your only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
born from the womb of the Virgin Mary, and so be received into His mystical Body and numbered among his members.

Loving Father, as on my earthly pilgrimage
I now receive your beloved Son, under the veil of a sacrament,
may I one day see Him Face to face in glory,
who lives and reigns with You for ever. Amen.

(By St. Thomas Aquinas)

A prayer of St Thomas Aquinas
A prayer of St Thomas Aquinas

A Student’s Prayer

Creator of all things,
true source of light and wisdom,
origin of all being,
graciously let a ray of your light penetrate
the darkness of my understanding.
Take from me the double darkness
in which I have been born,
an obscurity of sin and ignorance.
Give me a keen understanding,
a retentive memory, and
the ability to grasp things
correctly and fundamentally.
Grant me the talent
of being exact in my explanations
and the ability to express myself
with thoroughness and charm.
Point out the beginning,
direct the progress,
and help in the completion.
I ask this through Christ our Lord.

(By St. Thomas Aquinas)

This entry was posted in . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *