Saint Thomas Aquinas (also known as Doctor Angelicus; Doctor Communis; Great Synthesizer; The Dumb Ox; The Universal Teacher) was born around 1225 A.D. at Roccasecca, Aquino, Naples, Italy. He was the son of the Count of Aquino, born in the family castle in Lombardy. He was educated by Benedictine monks at Monte Cassino, and at the University of Naples. He secretly joined the mendicant Dominican friars in 1244, and when his family discovered he had done so, they kidnapped and imprisoned him for a year to keep him out of sight, and to get him to give up on the idea of the religious life, but he rejoined his order in 1245.
He studied in Paris from 1245 to 1248 under Saint Albert the Great, then accompanied Albert to Cologne, Germany. Saint Thomas was ordained in 1250, and he then returned to Paris to teach and there he taught theology at the University of Paris. He wrote defenses of the mendicant orders, commentaries on Aristotle and Lombard's Sentences, and some bible-related works, usually by dictating to secretaries. He won his doctorate, and taught in several Italian cities. Then around 1269 he was recalled to Paris by King Saint Louis IX and the University of Paris. Around 1272, Thomas was recalled to Naples where he was appointed regent of studies while working on the Summa Theologica.
On December 6, 1273 he experienced a divine revelation which so enraptured him that he abandoned the Summa, saying that it and his other writings were so much straw in the wind compared to the reality of the divine glory. He died four months later while en route to the Council of Lyons, overweight and with his health broken by overwork.
Saint Thomas Aquinas' works have been influential to the thinking of the Church, as they systematized the great thoughts and teachings of the Church, and combined Greek wisdom and scholarship methods with the truth of Christianity. Pope Leo VIII commanded that his teachings be studied by all theology students. He was proclaimed Doctor of the Church in 1567 by Pope Saint Pius V.
Below are some quotations from Saint Thomas Aquinas:
Grant me, O Lord my God, a mind to know you, a heart to seek you, wisdom to find you, conduct pleasing to you, faithful perseverance in waiting for you, and a hope of finally embracing you.
Charity is the form, mover, mother and root of all the virtues.
We are like children, who stand in need of masters to enlighten us and direct us; and God has provided for this, by appointing his angels to be our teachers and guides.
If you seek the example of love: “Greater love than this no man has, than to lay down his life for his friends.” Such a man was Christ on the cross. And if he gave his life for us, then it should not be difficult to bear whatever hardships arise for his sake. If you seek patience, you will find no better example than the cross. Christ endured much on the cross, and did so patiently, because “when he suffered he did not threaten; he was led like a sheep to the slaughter and he did not open his mouth.” If you seek an example of obedience, follow him who became obedient to the Father even unto death. “For just as by the disobedience of one man,” namely, Adam, “many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one man, many were made righteous.” If you seek an example of despising earthly things, follow him who is “the King of kings and the Lord of lords, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Upon the cross he was stripped, mocked, spat upon, struck, crowned with thorns, and given only vinegar and gall to drink. Do not be attached, therefore, to clothing and riches, because “they divided my garments among themselves.” Nor to honors, for he experienced harsh words and scourgings. Nor to greatness of rank, for “weaving a crown of thorns they placed it on my head.” Nor to anything delightful, for “in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.”
The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods.