Memorial: Janurary 28—Patron of Schools
St. Thomas, born toward the end of 1226, was the son of Landulph, Count of Aquino, who, when St. Thomas was five years old, placed him under the care of the Benedictines of Monte Casino. His teachers were surprised at the progress he had made, for he surpassed all his fellow pupils in learning as well as in the practice of virtue.
When he became of age to choose his state of life, St. Thomas renounced the things of this world and resolved to enter the Order of St. Dominic in spite of the opposition of his family. In 1243, at the age of seventeen, he joined the Dominicans of Naples. Some members of his family resorted to all manner of means over a two year period to break his constancy. They even went so far as to send an impure woman to tempt him. But all their efforts were in vain and St. Thomas persevered in his vocation. As a reward for his fidelity, God conferred upon him the gift of perfect chasity, which has merited for him the title of the Angelic Doctor.
After making his profession at Naples, he studied at Cologne under the celebrated St. Abert the Great. Here he was nicknamed the “Dumb Ox” because of his silent ways and huge size, but he was really a brilliant student. At the age of twenty-two he was appointed to teach in the same city. At the same time he also began to publish his first works. After four years he was sent to Paris. The Saint was then a priest. At the age of thirty-one he received his doctorate.
At Paris he was honored with the friendship of the King, St. Louis, with whom he frequently dined. In 1261 Urban IV called him to Rome, where he was appointed to teach, but he positively declined to accept any ecclesiastical dignity. St. Thomas not only wrote (his writings fill twenty hefty tomes characterized by brilliance of thought and lucidity of language), but he preached often and with the greatest fruit. Clement IV offered him the Archbishopric of Naples which he also refused.
He left the great monument of his learning, the Summa Theologica, unfinished, for on his way to the Second Council of Lyons, ordered there by Gregory X, he fell sick and died at the Cistercian monastery of Fossa Nuova in 1274. He was canonized in 1323 By Pope John XXII.
PRAYER Father of wisdom, You inspired St. Thomas Aquinas with an ardent desire for holiness and study of sacred doctrine. Help us, we pray, to understand what he taught and to imitate what he lived. Amen.
Hoever, Rev. Hugo, (1999, 1993, 1955). Lives of the Saints. 1st ed. New Jersey: Catholic Book Publishing Corp.