Eucharistic Crusade
Saints who loved the Blessed Sacrament

St. Thomas Aquinas {1225 - 1274}


St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Thomas was born in 1225, in the Castle of Rocca Secca, perched high up in the mountains near the town of Aquinas, in Italy.  His Father was Count of Aquinas and his Mother was Countess.

But before St. Thomas was born, a holy hermit known as Buono, went to the Castle of Rocca Secca and made a very great prophecy to his Mother.  While speaking to the Countess he pointed to a picture of St. Dominic, (not yet canonized) saying, “Lady be glad, for you are about to have a son whom you will call Thomas.  You and your husband will think of making him a monk in the Abbey of Mount Cassino (Benedictines), where lies the founder, St. Benedict, in the hopes that your son will attain to its honours and wealth.  But God has disposed otherwise, because he will become a Friar of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans).  And so great will be his learning and sanctity, that there will not be found in the whole world, another person like him!”

Countess Theodora was amazed at the prophecy and falling on her knees exclaimed, “I am most unworthy of bearing such a son, but God’s will be done according to His good pleasure!”

A few wonderful things happened when Thomas was a child.  The first words he spoke were Ave Maria!  Long before he could read, he loved to look at books, even when he was crying.  One night in 1228, lightning struck the tower, in which Thomas lay sleeping.  The lightning missed Thomas, but it killed his little sister, as well as the horses, beneath.  From that time on, Thomas was terrified of storms and would often go to a Church when lightning was flashing about. That is why St. Thomas is now the Patron against Thunderstorms and Sudden Death.

A few miles to the south of Rocca Secca, stands the Abbey of Mount Cassino.  From the age of five to about the age of thirteen, Thomas went to school there.  The Benedictine Monks liked his modest, sweet and gentle nature.  They realized that Thomas had special talents and virtues, and encouraged his Father to send him to University.

Thomas was brought home from Mount Cassino for a short vacation, before going to University.  At home Thomas did not become spoiled, because the Monks had trained him well.  He remained the same gentle boy: serious, studious, and prayerful.  His greatest delight was to give alms to the poor.  He even gave his own food to the poor! 

The Countess feared that Thomas might loose his innocence at University but his Father thought differently, and sent him to the University of Naples.  The city of Naples was full of dangers for Thomas, and he often longed for the innocence and quiet of Mount Cassino.  His only joy was study and prayer.  He really wanted to become a saint and longed to give himself more completely to God.  Gradually the desire grew in his heart, to join the Dominicans. 

As soon the Count heard about his son’s plans, he commanded Thomas to put the idea out of his head.  But Thomas had his mind made up to do the Holy Will of God, so one day when he was seventeen, he took the habit in the Dominican Monastery of Naples.

When the Countess heard that Thomas had joined the Dominicans, she set out for Naples to congratulate her son.  Thomas heard that his Mother was coming, and being afraid of what she might say or do, he got permission to go to Paris and then to Rome.  When the Countess found that she was mistrusted, she became furious at the Monks. She then ordered her two older sons, who were soldiers in the Emperor’s army in Italy, to capture poor Thomas and bring him home.

His Mother used tears, promises and threats, to make her son leave the Dominicans but Thomas had made up his mind to remain in the Order.  He was then imprisoned in one of the castle towers, where he had to suffer cold and hunger, and had to do without many things. 

His two sisters also tried to make him change his mind, but they failed as well.  They loved Thomas and helped him to obtain books and clothes from his fellow Monks.  Thomas was kept a prisoner for over one year, and during this time, he memorized the whole Bible as well as the four books of the  “Sentences”, (Theological textbook of the time).

When Thomas’ two brothers came home from the army, they decided to teach their brother a lesson.  They sent an evil woman into the tower to tempt him towards sin!  But Thomas grabbed a piece of burning wood from the fireplace, and drove the wicked woman from the tower.   He then traced a cross upon the wall with the burning wood and kneeling down, begged God to grant him the gift of Purity until his death. 

Suddenly, Thomas went into ecstasy!  Two Angels appeared and tied a cord tightly around his waist saying, “We have come from God to give you this cord of Chastity and God has heard your prayer God has granted you the gift of Purity until your death!”  This cord, which was worn by St. Thomas until his death, is now kept as a relic, in the Monastery of Chieri in Piedmont, Italy.

After a year or two passed, the Pope and Emperor learned about Thomas.  They were very displeased at the way he had been treated.   At last the Countess became more merciful.  The Dominicans came to rescue Thomas, and one of his sister’s helped him to escape by letting him down in a basket, from the tower.  God provides if we trust in Him! 

Thomas was overjoyed at his release and returned at once to the Dominican Monastery in Naples.  The next year, he made his profession there, but even then his mother and brothers opposed him and went so far as to beg the Pope to interfere and forbid Thomas to remain with the Dominicans.  The Pope asked the young monk to come to Rome.  After looking over the whole affair, he decided in favour of St. Thomas.  From that time on, the saintly monk was no longer persecuted by his family.   

 In 1244, the General of the Dominican Order took Thomas to Cologne, Germany, where St. Albert Magnus was teaching.  Thomas gave full attention to his studies, seeking to learn all he could for the greater honour and glory of God.  He even went without sleep, in order to have more time to study his books.

Because of his humility, St. Thomas hid his learning from others.  But one day St. Albert found a paper that Thomas had written, explaining the answer to a very difficult question.  The next day, Albert asked Thomas some questions in public and then exclaimed, “We call Br. Thomas the Dumb Ox!  But I tell you that one day he will make his bellowing (loud voice), heard through the whole world!” 

In 1245, St. Albert went to the University of Paris, to obtain the Degree of Doctor, taking St. Thomas along as his companion.  They set out on foot and in time reached the Dominican Monastery of St. James, in Paris.  Here, St. Thomas became the model of the whole Monastery because of his deep Humility, his Spirit of Prayer, his perfect Obedience, and his great Charity.  Heavenly grace glowed from St. Thomas, and some said they only had to look at him to become more fervent!

In Paris, St. Thomas met another holy monk known now as St, Bonaventure, who was a Franciscan.  They studied together for three years and became the closest of friends.  They both obtained the Degree of Bachelor of Theology in 1248.

In November 1248, Albert went back to Cologne and took St. Thomas with him. Thomas became a teacher under the direction of St. Albert, and the new school in Cologne soon overflowed with students. Thomas always used these five basic ideals, when he was teaching;      (1) Clearness (2) Brevity {Short} (3) Utility {Useful} (4) Sweetness  (5) Maturity {Complete}.

Soon after his return to Cologne, Thomas became a priest. He became yet closer to the good God, and spent many hours of the day and night, praying in Church.  He loved God so much, that he would shed many tears while saying Holy Mass.

In 1252, St. Thomas was ordered by the General Chapter (special meeting) to go to Paris to obtain his degree as a Doctor.  In those days, one had to be at least thirty-five to teach Theology, but his learning was so extraordinary, that he was allowed to be a Professor at twenty-five.  When he was in Paris, his success in teaching was so great, that crowds of people came to the Monastery of St. James to hear him. 

Later on St. Thomas and St. Bonaventure were asked to defend the truths of the Faith in the Papal Courts, because someone had written a heretical book.  They were victorious and on October 23, 1257, both monks received their Doctor’s degree. 

In 1259, St. Thomas and St. Albert and other learned men of the Dominican Order, were asked to draw up rules to regulate the studies of the monks.  And two years later in 1261, Pope Urban IV summoned St. Thomas to Rome to teach in the schools attached to the Papal Court.  As the Pope traveled from place to place, many cities and Dominicans in Italy enjoyed the teachings of Thomas.

One day St. Thomas presented one of his writings, the Catena Aurea, to the Pope.  The Holy Father was so delighted that he wanted to make the Dominican a Bishop.  But the only reward that the holy monk desired was to see the Feast of the Blessed Sacrament extended throughout the Church.  Pope Urban gladly consented and ordered St. Thomas to write the Office of the Feast.  The holy monk also wrote other beautiful prayers in honour of Our Lord.

St. Thomas taught in Rome for a while and in 1269, he went to Paris to teach.  At the time, there was a disagreement among the Doctors at the University, about the Holy Eucharist.  They presented their questions to Thomas.  After praying for a long time about the question, he wrote his opinion on paper.  In great Humility he brought it to the Church and laid it on the Altar of the Blessed Sacrament.  Thomas then prayed, “Lord Jesus, Who art truly present and who works wonders in the adorable Sacrament, I beg Thee, if I have written the truth, please enable me to teach it.  But if some of the things I have written are not true, then please do not allow me to talk about it.”   

Then the Monks who were watching, saw Our Lord Himself come down and stand upon the written paper, They heard Jesus say these words: “Thomas, thou hast written well concerning the Sacrament of My Body.”  St. Thomas suddenly went into ecstasy!  His soul was filled with joy and he floated in the air, eighteen inches above the ground!  

In 1271, St. Thomas returned to Italy and began to teach in Rome.  During the following Holy Week he preached in St. Peter’s on the Passion of Our Lord, and those who heard him were moved to tears, and cried until Easter Sunday. And at Easter, a miracle took place when a sick woman kissed the hem of his mantle, and was immediately cured!  

The whole soul of St. Thomas was filled with love for the Holy Eucharist.  He only wanted God, and one day as he was praying at Naples after he had finished writing the first part of the Summa, Jesus spoke from the Crucifix: “Thou hast written well of me, what recompense dost thou desire?”

Thomas humbly answered, “None other than Thyself, O Lord.”  He wished to continue having Our Lord, as his greatest love forever!

On December 6, 1273, St. Thomas stopped writing.  That day while saying Mass, he went into ecstasy and received a revelation.  Fr. Reginald urged Thomas to continue to write, but he replied, “The end of my labours is come.  All that I have written appears to me as so much straw, after the secrets that have been revealed to me!  I hope in the Mercy of God that the end of my life may soon follow the end of my labours.” He wanted to give himself entirely to God and prayer.

St. Thomas was suffering from some illness, when he was ordered by Pope Gregory X to attend the General Council at Lyons, France.  The purpose of the Council was to unite the Greek and Latin Churches.  So on January 28, 1274, Thomas set out with some of his Dominican Brothers.  On the way his condition became much worse, and he was taken to the home of his niece.  However, the Cistercian Monks of Fossa Nuova urged Thomas to come to their Monastery.  Upon arrival at the Monastery, St. Thomas went straight to the Church, to adore Jesus.

Thomas was very ill for a month.  During this time, the monks were very kind to him.  There was no hope for the holy monk to get better, so he made his General Confession.  He then received the Last Rites and when Holy Communion was brought to him, tears came to his eyes as he made this Profession of Faith.  “I firmly believe Jesus Christ, True God and True Man, Son of God and Son of the Virgin Mary, is in this Sacrament.  I receive Thee the price of my Redemption, for whose love I have watched, studied and laboured, preached and taught.”  He died a little after midnight March 7, 1274.

St. THOMAS AQUINAS, Pray for Us!   

The End


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