Saint Thomas Aquinas, Doctor
Amadeus of Lausanne, OSB Cist., Bishop (AC)
Born at Chattes, Dauphiné, France; died 1159; cultus approved by Saint Pius X in 1910. Amadeus of Lausanne is the son of Blessed Amadeus of Clermont, lord of Hauterive. He was educated at Bonnevaux and Cluny, then served at the court of Emperor Henry V. In 1125, Amadeus became a monk at Clairvaux under Saint Bernard, who sent Amadeus in 1139 to govern the abbey of Hautecombe in Savoy. Under obedience to the pope, he accepted the bishopric of Lausanne in 1144. During the last four years of his life, he was also co- regent of Savoy and chancellor of Burgundy (Attwater2, Benedictines, Coulson). Blessed Amadeus is pictured as a Cistercian bishop receiving a pair of gloves from the Blessed Virgin (Roeder). He is venerated in Burgundy and Savoy, especially Cluny, Clairvaux, and Hautecombe (Roeder).
Antimus of Brantôme, OSB, Abbot (AC)
8th century. Saint Antimus was one of the first abbots of Brantôme, an monastery founded by Blessed Charlemagne in 769 and destroyed by the Norman invaders in 817 (Benedictines).
Blessed Antony of Amandola, OSA (AC)
Born in Amandola in the Marches of Ancona, Italy, c. 1355; died 1450; cultus confirmed in 1759. Antony joined the Augustinian hermits and followed in the footsteps of his friend Saint Nicholas of Tolentino. He is honored primarily in Ancona and by the Augustinians (Attwater2, Benedictines). (Attwater2 says he died in 1350.)
Blessed Bartholomew Aiutamicristo, OSB Cam., Hermit (AC)
Born in Pisa; died 1224; cultus approved in 1857. Bartholomew received the surname 'Aiutamicristo' ("Christ help me") because that ejaculation was ever on his lips. Bartholomew was a Camaldolese lay-brother at the monastery of San Frediano in Pisa (Benedictines).
Cannera of Inis Cathaig V (AC)
(also known as Cainder, Conaire, Kinnera)
Died c. 530. Little is known of Saint Cannera except that which is recorded in the story of Saint Senan, who ruled an abbey on the Shannon River, which ministered to the dying- -but only men. Cannera was an anchorite from Bantry in southern Ireland. When she knew she was dying, she travelled to Senan's abbey without rest and walked upon the water to cross the river because no one would take her to the place forbidden to women. Upon her arrival, the abbot was adamant that no woman could enter his monastic enclosure. Arguing that Christ died for women, too, she convinced the abbot to give her last rites on the island and to bury her at its furtherest edge. Against his argument that the waves would wash away her grave, she answered that she would leave that to God.
Cannera told the abbot of a vision she had in her Bantry cell of the island and its holiness. Her appearance signaled a change in the attitude of the monks toward women, whose contamination they feared. Cannera charges Senan with this unChristian prejudice.
She reminded him that "Christ is no worse than yourself." If He could find comfort in the presence of women, so should the monks. The monks believed that the holier a man, the more he distances himself from Eve. They saw their celibacy as a taboo against women, rather than a sacrifice of love to Christ. They also failed to recognize that Jesus broke the conventions of His time. Again, Cannera said, "Christ came to redeem women no less than to redeem men," and "women gave service and tended to Christ and His Apostles," so why should the monks so distance themselves?
Other double (men and women) monasteries already existed in Ireland for Saint Patrick (March 17) and his followers did not reject the fellowship and ministry of women.
Probably because Saint Cannera walked across the water, sailors honor their patron by saluting her resting place on Scattery Island (Inis Chathaigh). They believed that pebbles from her island protected the bearer from shipwreck. A 16th-century Gaelic poem about Cannera prays, "Bless my good ship, protecting power of grace. . . ." (Benedictines, D'Arcy, Markus, O'Hanlon).
Blessed Charlemagne, Emperor (AC)
Born December 25, 742; died 814; cultus confirmed by Benedict XIV.
Charlemagne was the son of Pepin the Short, king of the Franks, on Christmas Day. Popular devotion to Charlemagne took root chiefly at the time of the great quarrel among the pope, Frederick Barbarossa, and the antipope Paschal III. Charlemagne's name is a somewhat extraordinary one to find among the beati. In France devotion to Charlemagne was made compulsory by the state in 1475 (though his memorial is no longer celebrated there liturgically), and his feast is still observed in several German dioceses. Saint Joan of Arc associated him with Saint Louis in her prayers.
He was anointed with his father and his brother Carloman by Pope Stephen II in 754. When Pepin died in 768, Charlemagne and Carloman divided the kingdom. With the death of Carloman in 771, he became the sole ruler.
For the next 28 years, he expanded his empire. At the request of Hadrian I, he subdued Lombardy, forcing King Desiderius to retire to a monastery. He assumed the Lombardy crown and was rewarded by the pope with the title "patricius."
From 772 to 785, he campaigned against the Saxons. He conquered Bavaria, the Avar kingdom, and Pannonia (Hungary). At home, Charlemagne organized and reformed the government, standardizing the laws, building a stable administration, and employing missi dominici, itinerant royal legates.
He furthered ecclesiastical reforms and became a patron of letters, which resulted in his reign being labelled "the Carolingian Renaissance." He commissioned Alcuin to write against the Adoptionist heretics led by Felix of Urgel. He spurred learning by acting as a patron to the scholars who formed the Palace School.
It was primarily due to Charlemagne's efforts--not the pope's--that the hierarchy, discipline, and unity of liturgy were restored; that doctrine was defined; and that education was encouraged. It is these achievements rather than his conquests that earned him fame. The high point of his reign was his coronation as the first Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Leo III on Christmas Day in 800.
Charlemagne's cultus developed about 1166 under the influence of Frederick Barbarossa and the antipope Paschal III. Nevertheless, Benedict XIV, before ascending the Chair of Peter, decided that the former emperor was entitled to be called "blessed" because he provided the Church with such great protection (Attwater2, Benedictines, Coulson, White).
In art, Charlemagne is generally portrayed as emperor, wearing the imperial crown with an orb, sword, eagle, and lilies on his shield. At times, he may be shown (1) with a dog at his feet; (2) with four philosophers around him; (3) SS. Peter and Paul appearing to him; or (4) near the Church of Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle).
Patron of learning (Gill), brokers, teachers, tin-founders, and the University of Paris (Roeder). He is venerated at Aachen, Germany (Roeder).
Flavian of Civita Vecchia M (RM)
Died c. 304. A deputy-prefect of Rome who was martyred under Diocletian at Civita Vecchia (Benedictines, Gill).
Blessed Giles of Lorenzana, OFM (AC)
Born in Lorenzana, Naples, Italy, c. 1443; died 1518; cultus approved in 1880. Blessed Giles began life as a farmhand in Naples, then became a Franciscan lay-brother and was allowed to live as a hermit in the garden of the friary. He is famous for his love of animals (Attwater2, Benedictines).
Glastian of Kinglassie B (AC)
(also known as Glastian of MacGlastian)
Born in County Fife, Scotland; died at Kinglassie (Kinglace), Scotland, in 830. As bishop of Fife, Saint Glastian mediated in the bloody civil war between the Picts and the Scots. When the Picts were subjugated, Glastian did much to alleviate their lot. He is the patron saint of Kinglassie in Fife, and venerated in Kyntire (Benedictines, Husenbeth).
James the Hermit (RM)
6th century. The Roman Martyrology says: "In Palestine the memory of Saint James the Hermit, who, after a lapse from the faith, lay hid long in a tomb for penance, and renowned for miracles, passed to the Lord." A later legend changes the "lapse from the faith" into one of homicide, committed under the most romantic circumstances (Benedictines).
Blessed James the Almsgiver M (AC)
Born near Chiusi, Lombardy, Italy; died 1304. James studied law but became a priest upon attaining his majority. He bought and restored a ruined hospital, where he tended the sick and gave free legal advice. Having discovered that the former revenues of this hospital had been unjustly appropriated, he applied to the bishop of Chiusi for restitution, but was refused. James then proceeded to file suit against the diocese and won his case both in civil and ecclesiastical courts. The bishop was not very happy; he retaliated by hiring assassins who murdered James (Attwater2, Benedictines).
Blessed Jerome Lu & Laurence Wang MM (AC)
Died 1858; beatified in 1909. Jerome Lu was born in Mao-Cheu, China, c. 1810, worked as a native catechist, and was beheaded in his hometown at Maokeu (Mao-Ken). Laurence was born in 1811 at Kuy-yang. Like Jerome he was a catechist beheaded in the same town (Attwater2, Benedictines).
John of Reomay, Abbot (RM)
(also known as John of Réomé)
Born in Dijon (diocese of Langres), France, 425; died at Reomay c. 544. This pioneer of the monastic life in France, was first a hermit at Reomay. When disciples gathered round him, he escaped in secret and became a monk at Lérins. Here he learned the traditions of Saint Macarius, and when summoned back to his native Langres by its bishop to found Moûtier-Saint-Jean in Reomay, he regulated his monastery according to them. He governed the abbey for many years with great sanctity, confirmed by many miracles. He was almost 120 years old at his death. Saint Gregory of Tours provides an account of this holy pioneer of French monasticism in his On the glory of confessors (chapter 87), as does Saint Columbanus's disciple Jonas (Attwater2, Benedictines, Coulson, Encyclopedia, Roeder, Husenbeth). In art, Saint John is portrayed as a Benedictine hermit-abbot near a well with a dragon on a chain (Roeder). He is venerated especially in Dijon, Lérins, and Réomé (Roeder).
John the Sage
11th century. A 19th-century German book, Die Heiligen Englands (edited by F. Liebermann), mentions Saint John as buried at Malmesbury with Maedub and Saint Aldhelm. This may be the John whose tomb William of Malmesbury described and whose epitaph he transcribed. Malmesbury thought this John might be John Scotus Erigena, the 9th-century Irish philosopher, and that he was killed by the pens of his students after settling in Malmesbury. This may be a confusion with another saint. He manner of martyrdom may have been borrowed from the acta of Saint Cassian of Imola. He is venerated at Malmesbury (Farmer).
Julian of Cuenca B (RM)
Born in Burgos, Spain, in 1127; died 1208. Saint Julian is known primarily for his dedication to the poor. When Cuenca, New Castile (central Spain), was recaptured by King Alphonsus IX, Julian was appointed bishop of the city. In his longing to help the poor, he is said to have spent all his spare time earning money for them by the work of his hands (Benedictines, Encyclopedia). Saint Julian is pictured as a bishop making baskets, his crozier and miter laid by (Roeder). He is invoked for rain and is patron of the diocese of Cuenca, New Castile (Roeder).
Blessed Julian Maunoir, SJ (AC)
Born at Saint-Georges-de Reitembault (near Rennes), France, in 1606; died in Plévin, 1683; beatified in 1951. Julian was raised in the heart of a pious family. He entered the Society of Jesus and took vows in 1625. After his ordination in 1637, he begged to be sent on mission to Canada, but he was needed closer to home. Julian became an apostle to Brittany. He mastered the language, and preached his revivals so effectively that he is said to have recalled 30,000 to God in two years. Of course, not everyone agreed with his methods during his 40 years of "working and weeping, suffering and dying" for the Bretons, but the bishops encouraged his work and many secular priests joined in his mission. He died at an advanced age, worn out by his labors (Attwater2, Benedictines).
Leonidas and Companions MM (RM)
Died 304. These were martyrs in Egypt under Diocletian who are associated with Saints Philemon and Apollonius (Benedictines).
Martyrs of Alexandria (RM)
Died 356. The R.M. mentions an anonymous group of martyrs in Alexandria, Egypt, who were order to be put to death by an Arian officer while they were attending a Mass offered by Saint Athanasius. Athanasius himself managed to escape (Benedictines).
Blessed Mary of Pisa, Widow, OP Tertiary (AC)
(also known as Catherine Mancini)
Born in Pisa, Italy, 1355; died 1431; cultus confirmed by Pius IX in 1855; feast day formerly on December 22.
Almost from the moment Catherine Mancini was born into that noble family she began enjoying the miraculous favors with which her life was filled. At the age of three, she was warned by some heavenly agency that the porch on which she had been placed by her nurse was unsafe. Her cries attracted the nurse's attention, and they had barely left the porch when it collapsed. She also was able to see her guardian angel from her childhood.
When she was 5, she beheld in an ecstasy the dungeon of a palace in Pisa in which Blessed Peter Gambacorta, one of the leading citizens, was being tortured. At Catherine's prayer, the rope broke and the man was released. Our Lady told the little girl to say prayers every day for this man, because he would one day be her benefactor.
Catherine would have much preferred the religious life to marriage, but she obeyed her parents and was married at the age of 12. Widowed at 16, she was compelled to marry again. Of her seven children, only one survived the death of her second husband, and Catherine learned through a vision that this child, too, was soon to be taken from her. Thus she found herself, at age 24, twice widowed and bereft of all seven of her children. Refusing a third marriage, she devoted herself to prayer and works of charity.
She soon worked out for herself a severe schedule of prayers and good works, fasting, and mortifications. She tended the sick and the poor, bringing them into her own home and regarding them as our Lord Himself. She gave her goods to the poor and labored for them with her own hands. Our Lord was pleased to show her that He approved of her works by appearing to her in the guise of a poor young man, sick, and in need of both food and medicine. She carefully dressed his wounds, and she was rewarded by the revelation that it was in reality her Redeemer whom she had served.
Saint Catherine of Siena visited Pisa at about this time, and the two saintly women were drawn together into a holy friendship. As they prayed together in the Dominican church one day, they were surrounded by a bright cloud, out of which flew a white dove. They conversed joyfully on spiritual matters, and were mutually strengthened by the meeting.
On the advice of Saint Catherine of Siena, Catherine Mancini retired to the enclosed Santa Croce convent of the Second Order. In religion, she was given the name Mary, by which she is usually known. She embraced the religious life in all its primitive austerity and reformed the convent. With Blessed Clare Gambacorta and a few other members of the convent, she founded a new and much more austere house, which had been built by Peter Gambacorta. Our Lady's prophecy of his benefaction was thus fulfilled.
Blessed Mary was favored with many visions and was in almost constant prayer. She became prioress of the house on the death of her friend Blessed Clare Gambacorta, and ruled it with justice and holiness until her death (Attwater2, Benedictines, Dorcy).
Odo of Beauvais, OSB B (AC)
Born near Beauvais, France, in 801; died 880; cultus approved by Pope Pius IX.
Saint Odo chose the military as a profession in his youth but abandoned this calling to become a Benedictine monk at Corbie. He taught Charles Martel's son while he was a monk there and in 851 was elected abbot, succeeding Saint Paschasius Radbertus. He was consecrated bishop of his native city in 861 and in the two decades of his bishopric helped reform the Church in northern France and mediated the differences between Pope Nicholas I and Archbishop Hincmar of Rheims over Hincmar's deposition of Rothadius of Soissons in 862 and Rothadius's restoration by the pope in 865 (Benedictines, Delaney).
Palladius of Antioch, Hermit (AC)
Died c. 390. Saint Palladius, a hermit near Antioch, Syria, was a friend of Saint Simeon 'the Ancient' (Benedictines).
Paulinus of Aquileia B (AC)
Born at Cividale (near Fruili), Italy, c. 726; died at Aquileia, Italy, 804; feast day formerly January 11. Although Saint Paulinus was born on a farm to parents of modest means, himself tilled the soil, and studied on his own in his leisure, he was well-educated and earn a reputation as a scholar. For this reason he was summoned to Charlemagne's court in 776 after the destruction of the Lombard Kingdom in 774. Here he became fast friends with Blessed Alcuin. In 784, Paulinus was elevated to patriarch of Aquileia, near his hometown in northern Italy. During his episcopacy Paulinus was active. He took part in several church councils in which he took the lead in defending the filioque, and competently wrote much against Adoptionism, a heresy which was then spreading throughout Spain. He also carried on missionary work among the Avars, but, in concert with Pepin of Italy and the Danubian bishops, he condemned the baptism of uninstructed or unwilling converts. In addition to theological tracts, Paulinus wrote poems, hymns, and a book of spiritual direction for use by Duke Henry of Friuli (Attwater, Attwater2, Benedictines, Coulson).
Peter Nolasco, Founder (RM)
Born at Mas-des-Saintes Puelles (Languedoc), France, (or Barcelona, Spain?) c. 1189; died in Barcelona, Spain, December 25, 1258; canonized in 1628; feast extended to the universal Church in 1664; feast day formerly on January 31.
Peter Nolasco's family was either mercantile or a distinguished one, possessing great estates, all of which Peter inherited at age 15 upon the death of his father. It is said that he consecrated himself to a life of celibacy and service to the poor when he was still quite young. At his father's death he went to Barcelona, Spain, and quickly exhausted his entire estate paying ransoms to the Moors of Spain for the release of Christian prisoners. (Tabor relates that he was one of the converts of Saint John of Matha.)
In response to a vision (which according to legend was experienced also by Saint Raymond of Peñafort and King James of Aragon), Peter decided to found a religious congregation dedicated to ransoming Christian slaves from the ruling Moors. The Order of Our Lady of Ransom (the Mercedarians) developed from the decision, with the help of Saint Raymond, Peter's spiritual director, who is considered the cofounder of the order. With the approval of Bishop Berengarius of Barcelona, Peter more actively encouraged others to contribute large sums to this same charity. Confirmation of its foundation and rule was given by Pope Gregory IX in 1235.
The exact year of the founding of the order is unknown (sometime between 1218 and 1234) and there is very little available on the life of this founder because there are so many spurious documents on his life.
In addition to the three traditional religious vows, the Mercedarians took a fourth--to give themselves if necessary in exchange for a slave. Otherwise, the rule followed that of the Augustinians. Peter travelled to Moorish-dominated Spain several times and to Algeria, where he was imprisoned for a while. It is claimed that he redeemed 400 Christians during one trip to Valencia and Granada. He resigned his position as master general in 1249-- several years before his own death (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Tabor).
In art, Saint Peter is an old man dressed in the white Mercedarian habit with the arms of Aragon on the breast (Roeder, Tabor) , holding a bell on which is the image of the Blessed Virgin. Sometimes he may be shown (1) with the king watching the large bell being dug up with the image of the Virgin; (2) as the Virgin gives him as scapular; (3) holding a chain or surrounded by captives; (4) wearing a large pilgrim's hat, in a boat with boatmen; (5) witnessing a vision of heaven shown to him by an angel; (6) having a vision of Saint Peter, crucified upside-down; (7) as two angels carry him to the altar; or (8) with a banner bearing a red cross (Roeder).
He is especially venerated in Barcelona (Roeder). A series of paintings on Saint Peter by Zurbarán can be found in the Prado Museum of Madrid (Farmer).
Peter Thomas, OC BM (AC)
Born in Breil, Gascony, France, c. 1305; died January 6, 1366; cultus approved in 1608; feast day was January 25.
Saint Peter was a French Carmelite, who spent his life in diplomacy. In 1342, he was sent to Avignon a procurator of his order. There he entered the service of the pope and went on diplomatic missions to Italy, Serbia, Hungary, and the Near East. He was successively appointed the bishop of Patti and Lipari (1354), and Coron (Morea; 1359), archbishop of Candia (1363), and in 1364 became the Latin Patriarch of Constantinople.
On behalf of Pope Urban V and with the support of King Peter I of Cyprus, he led a crusade against the Turks. In an unsuccessful attack on Alexandria, Peter was wounded and died three months later on Cyprus. Throughout his active life, he remained true to the spirit of his contemplative profession (Benedictines).
In art, Saint Peter Thomas is portrayed as an elderly Carmelite wearing a missioner's cross and hat, carrying a staff, with a ray of light shining on the heart of the Virgin Mary on his breast. Sometimes he may be shown reading with a hat and staff near at hand (Roeder).
Richard of Vaucelles, OSB Cist., Abbot (AC)
Died 1169. English Saint Richard was a Cistercian monk, who was named by Saint Bernard as the second abbot of Vaucelles near Cambrai (Benedictines).
Blessed Richard the Sacrist, OSB Cist., Monk (AC)
Died after 1142. This Richard was also English by birth and also became a Cistercian monk. He, however, was the sacristan of the abbey of Dundrennan in Kirkcudbrightshire (Benedictines).
Blessed Roger (Ruggiero) of Todi, OFM (AC)
Died at Todi, Italy, in 1237; cultus confirmed by Pope Benedict XIV. Blessed Roger was one of the early Franciscans who was admitted to the order by the founder himself. Saint Francis appointed him spiritual director of the convent of Poor Clares at Rieti (Attwater2, Benedictines).
Thomas Aquinas, OP, Priest, Doctor
Born at Rocca Secca near Aquino in Naples, Italy, c. 1225; died at Fossanuova (near Rome), 1274; canonized 1323; declared Doctor of the Church in 1567; Pope Leo XIII named him patron of Catholic universities and centers of study in 1880; feast day formerly March 7.
"Word made flesh,
true bread Christ makes
By his word his flesh to be,
Wine his Blood; which whoso takes
Must from carnal thought be free
Faith alone, though sight forsakes,
Shows true hearts the mystery."
--Saint Thomas Aquinas
Saint Thomas was born in the family castle of Rocca Secca, the son of Count Landulf of Aquino (a relative of the emperors Henry VI and Frederick II and kings of France, Castile, and Aragon) and Theodora, Countess of Teano. It is said that when he was a baby, a thunderbolt struck the castle and killed his nurse and little sister. Thereafter, Thomas had a fear of lightning and would pray with his head against the Tabernacle during a storm.
At age 5, he was sent as an oblate to the Monte Cassino Monastery and was educated there until age 13. Around 1239, he attended the University of Naples, and he became a Dominican in 1244 (age 19). His superiors sent him to Rome en route to Cologne and Paris.
His family was so upset that he joined a mendicant order that they had him kidnapped by his brothers before he reached Paris and returned to the castle, where they held him for 15 months in the hopes of changing his mind. His mother and sisters used caresses to shake his vocation.
His brothers used vile attempts to destroy his chastity. Snatching from the hearth a burning brand, the saint drove the wretched woman from his chamber. Then marking a cross upon the wall, he knelt down to pray and immediately went into ecstasy. An angel girded him with a cord in token of the gift of perpetual chastity that God had given him. (The cord is still preserved at the convent of Chieri in the Piedmont.) The girdle caused pain so sharp that he cried out, bringing his guards into the room. But he confessed this grace shortly before his death and only to his spiritual director Father Raynald.
Patiently, Thomas conquered all the temptations used to turn him away from his vocation. Instead of bemoaning his situation, he used his two-year confinement to memorize the Bible and study religion. When his family realized they would not change his mind, his brothers relaxed their guard and Thomas, with the help of his sisters, escaped from the tower and rejoined the Dominicans in 1245.
Finally he reached Cologne and was put in the charge of Saint Albert the Great, a man of encyclopedic knowledge. From 1245 to 1248 he continued his studies in Paris under Albert. Thomas's nonparticipation at disputations and his large figure led him to be called "the dumb Sicilian ox." Nevertheless, Albert predicted that Thomas's voice would one day fill the world.
One of the young men took pity on Thomas and offered to tutor him. The saint accepted with humility and thanks. But one day the teacher made a mistake. For the sake of the truth, Thomas corrected him and explained the lesson very clearly. The teacher was astonished. He then begged Thomas to be the teacher. Thomas agree but only if it could remain a secret arrangement.
A contemporary described Thomas as "tall, erect, large and well- built, with a complexion like ripe wheat and whose head early grew bald."
From Cologne, Saint Albert and Saint Thomas walked more than 250 miles to the University of Paris. Here Thomas met and became friends with a young Franciscan monk named Bonaventure, later known as the 'Seraphic Doctor.'
Thomas went with Albert to a new Dominican studium generale in Cologne in 1248 and was ordained about 1250. He said Mass with such great devotion that he often shed tears. Those who assisted at his Masses always felt themselves moved to greater love for God. After his own Mass, he often served another in thanksgiving.
Armed with several university degrees, including a doctorate in theology from the renowned University of Paris, Thomas moved easily from one environment to another. In 1252 he returned to Paris to undertake his first teaching appointment at the Dominican monastery of Saint-Jacques. Here he wrote a spirited defense of the mendicant orders against William of St-Amour, a commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard, De ente et essentia, works on Isaiah and Matthew. He was master of theology in Paris in 1256. He then taught in Anagni, Ovieto (1261-64), Rome (1265-67), Viterbo (1268), Paris again (1269-71) and Naples (1272-74).
During this period (1259-64), he completed his Summa contra Gentiles, a theological statement on the Christian faith argued partly by the use of pure reason without faith against Islam, Judaism, heretics and pagans. This was not designed for use by missionaries but rather to counteract the influence of Aristotelian thinkers in the universities by answering them from Aristotle's viewpoint. Around 1266, he began his five-volume Summa theologica, which is a comprehensive statement of his mature thought on all the Christian mysteries. It poses questions, then systematically answers them. Unfortunately, Thomas never finished the work.
In 1263, Thomas was present at a general chapter of the Dominicans in London. It seems almost impossible to believe he could have produced his enormous literary output while travelling as extensively as he did, especially considering the number of authorities he must have studied in order to cite them and the depth of his prayer life as reflected in them. Yet, he was capable of intense concentration and was known to dictate to four secretaries at one time. He frequently used abbreviations in his writings because the friars did not have sufficient supplies of parchment.
Always, he was a humble and prayerful man. In fact, it is said of Thomas that 'his wonderful learning owes far less to his genius than to the effectiveness of his prayer.' He was made a preacher general and was called upon to teach scholars attached to the papal court. During Holy Week 1267, Thomas preached in Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome. He moved the people to tears with his sermon on the Passion of our Lord. On the following Easter Sunday he spoke about the Resurrection, and the congregation was filled with the greatest joy. As he was coming down from the pulpit that day, a poor woman who touched the hem of his garment was instantly cured of a disease that had troubled her for years.
Thomas wrote much about our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. One day Jesus appeared to him and said, "Thomas, you have written well concerning the Sacrament of My Body." Another time the Blessed Virgin appeared to him and told him how pleasing his writings were to her divine Son.
At the request of Saint Thomas, the pope extended the feast of Corpus Christi to the entire Church. The two hymns sung during Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, O Salutaris Hostia and Tantum Ergo, are taken from the office of the feast written by Thomas Aquinas. The saint also wrote beautiful prayers to be said before and after Holy Communion.
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.
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.
(These prayers are taken from the English translation of the Liturgy of the Hours, copyright 1974, prepared by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy, Inc. Used with permission.)
Prayer after Mass:
and ever-living God,
I thank you,
for even though I am a sinner,
your unprofitable servant,
not because of my worth,
but in the kindness of your mercy,
you have fed me with the precious body
and blood of your Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ.
I pray that this holy communion
may not bring me
condemnation and punishment
but forgiveness and salvation.
May it be a helmet of faith and
a shield of good will.
May it purify me from evil ways
and put an end to my evil passions.
May it bring me charity and patience,
humility and obedience,
and growth in the power to do good.
May it be my strong defense
against all my enemies,
visible and invisible,
and the perfect calming
of all my evil impulses,
bodily and spiritual.
May it unite me more closely to you,
the one true God,
and lead me safely through death
to everlasting happiness with you.
And I pray that you will lead me,
to the banquet where you,
with your Son and Holy Spirit,
are true and perfect light,
total fulfillment, everlasting joy,
gladness without end,
and perfect happiness to your saints.
Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
In 1269, Thomas was recalled to Paris for three years. King Saint Louis IX highly esteemed Thomas and consulted him; so did the University of Paris. Once, when he was a guest at the king's table, he was absorbed in thought and quite oblivious of his surroundings. To the astonishment of everyone present, the now corpulent friar banged his fist on the table and exclaimed: "That's finished the heresy of the Manichees." A gentle reproof from his prior was followed by Thomas's apology and the immediate arrival of a scribe to take down his thoughts. Thomas's power of concentration was extraordinary: He had the ability to dictate to four secretaries at once.
Upon his return to Paris, he became enmeshed in the struggle between the Dominican priests and the seculars, and opposed the philosophical teachings of Siger of Brabant, John Peckham, and Bishop Stephen Tempier of Paris. When dissension racked the university causing a general strike in 1272, Thomas was sent as regent to head a new Dominican school in Naples.
Saint Thomas experienced visions, ecstasies, and revelations. He stopped writing the Summa theologiae because of a revelation he experienced while saying Mass on the feast of Saint Nicholas 1273. He confronted the consternation of his brethren saying, "The end of my labors is come. All that I have written appears to be as so much straw after the things that have been, revealed to me." Nevertheless, the work became the basis of modern Catholic theology.
He was appointed by the Pope Gregory X to attend the General Council of Lyons, called to discuss the reunion of the Greek and Latin churches. Although he was sick, he set off for Rome in obedience. The illness overtook him on his way. He suffered for about a month before he died in the Cistercian Abbey of Fossanuova outside Terracina near Rome.
The day before he died, he asked to be laid on the floor in ashes. Just before receiving our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, he exclaimed: "You, O Christ, are the King of Glory. You are the everlasting Son of God." On March 7, 1274, he received Extreme Unction before dying peacefully about age 48.
He is considered to have been the greatest Christian theologian and his work dominated Catholic teaching for hundreds of years. The amount of writing he accomplished is staggering. His writings are characterized by a sharp distinction between faith and reason, but emphasizing that the great fundamental Christian doctrines, though impossible to establish by reason, are not contrary to reason and reach us by revelation; nevertheless, he believed that such truths as the existence of God, His eternity, His creative power, and His providence can be discovered by natural reason.
Among Aquinas's works are Quaestiones disputatae, Quaestiones quodlibetales, De unitate intellectus contra Averroistas, and commentaries on the Lord's Prayer, the Apostles' Creed, Hail Mary, and various parts of the Bible. He also wrote hymns, many of which are still used, though the authorship of some attributed to him is now questioned.
Probably his greatest contribution to Western civilization was the retranslation and utilization of the works of Aristotle. Thomas explained Aristotle's works in the light of Christian revelation. Aquinas used the logic of Aristotle to consider the mysteries of religion. Thomas Aquinas suffices to upset the myth that religion fears thought.
Saint Thomas was less influential on his contemporaries than were Saint Bonaventure and Saint Albert, but his work has endured the test of time. Leo XIII in 1879 wrote an encyclical encouraging the revival of Thomistic studies.
Yet for all his intelligence, Thomas Aquinas was a man of great humility--he thought poorly of his work. He had come to live in so habitual a communion with God, actually in the country wherein the most accurate theology is but the map, that he said, "all I have written now seems to me but of little value." When asked by the pope to accept the archbishopric of Naples, he respectfully asked to remain a simple Dominican monk. Thomas was always charitable. Never did he refuse anyone who came to him for help. He was kind, gentle, and simple in his ways.
He was called "the Angelic Doctor" for his superior intellect was combined with the tenderest piety. Prayer, he said, taught him more than study. After his death, one of his companions saw a vision of Saint Thomas enjoying in heaven the fruit of the labors he performed for God. Many miracles were granted through his intercession. In 1368, his body was translated to Saint-Sernin in Toulouse. In 1974, it was moved to the Jacobin's church in the same city (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Butler, Delaney, Dorcy, Farmer, Martindale, Melady, Waltz, Weisheipl, White).
He is depicted in art as a portly Dominican friar, carrying a book; or with a star on his breast and rays of light coming from his book; or holding a monstrance with Saint Norbert. At times he may be shown: (1) with the sun on his breast; (2) enthroned with pagan and heretic philosophers under his feet; (3) at a teacher's pulpit or desk, with rays coming from him; (4) with a chalice and host; (5) listening to a voice speaking to him from the Crucifix; (6) as angels bring him a girdle; or (7) in a library with Saint Bonaventure who points to the crucifix (Roeder, White). Click here to see Stefano Di Giovanni Sassetta's The Vision of Saint Thomas Aquinas.
Saint Thomas is the patron saint of Roman Catholic schools, colleges, universities, and academies, scholars and students, apologists, philosophers, theologians, and booksellers (due to his patronage of education in general), and pencil-makers (Roeder, White).
He is invoked for chastity and learning, and against storm and lightning (Roeder).
Thyrsus, Leucius, & Callinicus MM (RM)
Died 251. These three were martyred at Apollonia in Phrygia. Their relics were brought to Constantinople, then to Spain and France. For this reason, Saint Thyrsus had a full office in the Mozarabic liturgy, and he is also patron of the ancient cathedral of Sisteron in the Basses Alpes, France (Benedictines).
About Saints of the Day
These summaries were prepared in 1998 by St. Patrick's parishioner Katherine I. Rabenstein and are reproduced on www.saintpatrickdc.org with the permission of the author. Note that the content has not been updated since that time and represents the research of the author. An alphabetical index of all saints on our site is available. Source references are also available. HTML formatting © 2007-2008 by St. Patrick's Catholic Church, Washington, D.C.