Thomas Aquinas


Feast Day: January 28
Canonized: July 18, 1323

Thomas was born in Italy around 1225 or 1227. He was originally Thomas of Aquino, the region in which he was born, but he has become known as Thomas Aquinas since that time.

When Thomas was just five, his parents sent him to study with the Benedictine monks. He was a good student and was sent to the university in Naples at an early age to pursue more studies. He studied math, science, grammar, logic, and music.

His parents had hoped from the time he was born that Thomas would become a Benedictine monk like his uncle, who was the local abbott. But Thomas was drawn to the religious order founded by St. Dominic, the Dominicans. He tried to join the Dominicans, but his parents locked him in a tower of their castle! For two years they tried many different things to make him change his mind. But Thomas would not. He spent the two years studying his faith and trying to educate himself as if he was preparing for ordination.

He escaped from the castle and went immediately to join the Dominicans. After he made his vows he went to Rome and told his story to Pope Innocent IV, who told Thomas’ family they could not interfere with his vocation.

Thomas was sent to Paris and then to Cologne to study and to teach. He was an inspired writer of philosophy and theology. He wrote more than 60 works, some of which are still popular and used today. Popes consulted with him, too. One pope wanted to appoint him Archbishop of Naples, but Thomas wanted to have time instead to write and spread the truth about the faith.

Thomas believed that both faith and reason are required to reach the truth, and both come from God. He also said that some truths can only be revealed through faith. Today we refer to his thought as “Thomism.”

Thomas died in 1274 at Cistercian Monastery of Fossa Nuova. He was canonized by Pope John XXII in 1323 and was named a Doctor of the Church in 1567. He is the patron saint of Catholic universities and students.

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