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St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Thomas gazes at the crucified Christ. Stained Glass Window – St. Dominic’s Church in Washington, D.C. Photo by Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P.

Friar, Priest and Doctor of the Church

Saint Thomas was born at Roccasecca, Italy in 1225 of the family of the Counts of Aquino. At the age of seventeen he received the habit of the Order at Naples. He was a disciple of Saint Albert the Great, and at the early age of twenty-five obtained the title of Doctor at the University of Paris. He spent his life teaching and writing, deriving as he said, more light and help from the Crucifix than from books. His immortal Summa Theologiae is his best known work. He devoted all of his energy to the service of truth, eagerly searching it out, lovingly contemplating it, and imparting it to others through his writing, his teaching and his preaching. His life was marked by devotion to the Passion of the Lord, to the mystery of the Eucharist and to the Virgin Mary, Mother of God. His hymns on the Blessed Sacrament are among the greatest treasures of the liturgy. In his humility he declined all worldly honors and ecclesiastical dignities. He was renowned for his purity. He died on March 7, 1274, at the Cistercian Monastery of Fossanova, while on his way to the Council of Lyons. In 1323 he was solemnly canonized by Pope John XXII. Known as the “Angelic Doctor,” he was declared Doctor of the Church by Pope Saint Pius V; and by Pope Leo XIII in 1880 was declared Patron of Catholic Schools. Pope Pius XI declared him Doctor of the Most Holy Eucharist. He is Patron of the Confraternity of the Angelic Warfare. This date recalls the translation of his remains to Toulouse.

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