Saint Thomas Aquinas
1225 - 1274
Thomas Aquinas was an Italian Dominican Friar and a brilliant theologian and philosopher. He is recognised as a Doctor of the Church and his work and views have had far reaching influence in the Catholic Church and Western world. Aquinas had a unique way of being able to synthesize Aristotle within the Christian framework, weaving together philosophy and scripture and bringing together the best that has been said and thought. He wrote a considerable amount of commentaries, texts and also hymns and is well known for his 5 volumed Magnum Opus, Summa Theologiae. He was a heavily-built, intelligent and quiet man, who valued reason but also displayed great depth and mystical abilities. Aquinas became known as the Patron Saint of Teachers and his feast day is 28th January.
Brief Summary of his Life:
- Born to an aristocratic Italian family in Aquino(present day Lazio)
- Began his early education at Monte Casino Abbey and then studied at the University of Naples, where he became influenced by the Dominicans.
- At age 19 he resolved to join the Dominican Order.
- His family kidnapped him and he was held against his will for an extended period of time where they tried to persuade him to give in to various temptations.
- He eventually managed to escape and went to attend the University of Paris.
- He went to Cologne and studied under Albert the Great for a few years, who recognised his huge potential and deep intellect.
"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."
- Albert instructed other scholars to follow him around and write down everything Thomas said.
- He returns to Paris to do his theology studies and over the years moves continuously between France and Italy teaching, writing and studying.
- Near the end of his life he had a vision of Jesus speaking to him and asking him what he would like from him as a reward for his writing.
His reply was “Nothing but you, Lord.”
Later on he experienced another moving spiritual experience after Mass, that rendered him speechless and after this he chose to stop writing.
He claimed to the monks, “After what I have experienced, all my words are straw.”
- He died while giving commentary on the Song of Songs, on the 7th March 1274.
- Thomas was canonised on the 18th of July 1323 and in 1567 he had the honor of having his Summa Theologiae placed on the altar alongside the Bible and the Decretals at the Council of Trent.
Views and Main contributions:
- He was seriously influenced by the teachings of Aristotle and was a proponent of natural theology, scholasticism and the father of Thomism.
- He reconciled Religion with Science and Faith with Reason.
- He universalised intelligence - information can come from different sources and any human being can have access to great truths when he makes use of reason.
- Father of Thomism
- He proposed the 5 Proofs for the Existence of God, using Aristotle’s posterior analytics to conclude the existence of God from facts about this world.
* The Argument from Motion
* The Argument from Causation
* The Argument from Contingency
* The Argument from Degree and Final Cause or Ends
- Summa Theologiae (aka Summa Theologica or Summa)
- Summa Contra Gentiles.
“There must be must be a first mover existing above all – and this we call God.”
“Grace build on nature.”
“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”
“The things that we love tell us what we are.”
“Sorrow can be alleviated by good sleep, a bath and a glass of wine”