Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

A Cardinal, noted for his learning, humility, and zeal for reform; born at Licata, Sicily, of a princely family, 12 September, 1649; died in Rome, 1 January 1713. Though destined by his father for the Spanish Court, he joined the Clerks Regular of the Theatine Order at Palermo, 24 March, 1665, renouncing his primogeniture and the princedom in favour of his brother. He was professed 25 March, 1666. He studied philosophy, first at Messina, and later, owing to poor health, at Ferrara and Modena ; and theology in Rome and Palermo. He was ordained priest on Christmas Day, 1673. To a wide knowledge of Greek, he united the study of Ethiopic, Arabic, Syriac, Chaldaic and Hebrew--converting his master a Jewish rabbi, to Christianity. From the Psalters in these different languages, he collected the titles of the Psalms. He devoted himself to the study of Scripture and the Fathers. Searching the chief libraries, archives, and monuments, he retraced the ancient ecclesiastical discipline and liturgy.

His valuable works ( Codici Tommasiani ), published chiefly from ancient codices in the Vatican and Vallicellian Libraries and the Library of Christina of Sweden, were highly praised by the different academies of Europe, even Protestant. Chief among his publications are the "Codices sacramentorum nongentis annis antiquiores" (Rome, 1680), partly transcribed by Mabillon in his "Liturgia Gallicana". Following these, in order of time, were: "Psalterium" (Rouse, 1683), according to the Roman and Gallican editions, published under the name of Giuseppe Maria Caro". In this work Tommasi introduced Origen's symbols (obeli and asterisks ), obsolete for nine centuries. Under the same pen-name Tommasi wrote "Responsalia et Antiphonaria Rom. Eccl.", etc (Rome, 1686); "Sacrorum Bibliorum Tituli, sive capitula" (Rome, 1688); Antiqui libri Missarum Rom. Eccl." or the Antiphonary of Pope Saint Gregory , entitled "Comes", written by Alcuin at the order of Charlemagae (Rome, 1691); "Officium Domicinae Passionis", used by the Greeks on Good Friday, translated into Latin (Rome, 1695). Under his proper name he published "Speculum" (Rome, 1679); "Exercitium Fidei, Spei et Caritatis" (Rome, 1683); "Breviarium psalterii (Rome, 1683); "Vera norma di glorificar Dio" (Rome, 1687); "Fermentum" (Rome, 1688); "Psalterium cum canticis" (Rome, 1697); "Indiculus institutionum theologicarum veterurn Patrum" ( 3 vols., Rome, 1709, 1710; 1712), an exposition of theological theory and practice, derived from original patristic sources. Tommasi also wrote numerous opuscula , the last four published by G. Mercati (Rome, 1905). In 1753 Vezzosi published his works in eleven quarto volumes.

Tommasi's efforts at reform were directed not to the introduction of the new, but to the restoration and maintenance of the old. He was not always upheld and was sometimes rebuked for his zeal. Innocent XII made him examiner of the bishops, or of the clergy. Clement XI appointed him consultor of the Theatine Order, theologian of the "Congregatio super Disciplinâ Regulari" and other Congregations, consultor of the Congregations of Rites and Indulgences, and qualificator of the Holy Office. The same pope created him cardinal-priest of the Title of S. Martino ai Monti and compelled him to accept the honour. Taking St. Charles Borromeo for his model, Tommasi practised humility and charity towards the poor. He taught catechism to the children of the poor in his titular church. He introduced the use ot Gregorian chant in his church. On his death he was mourned by all, even by the pope, who so admired his sanctity that he consulted him before accepting the papacy. He was beatified by Pius VII, 5 June, 1803. Every year the Arcadians hold a religious and literary commemoration in his honour. His body rests in the church of S. Martino ai Monti.


More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online


Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Corinthians 2:10-16
10 to us, though, God has given revelation through ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 145:8-9, 10-11, 12-13, 13-14
8 Yahweh is tenderness and pity, slow to anger, full ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 4:31-37
31 He went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 2nd, 2014 Image

St. Ingrid of Sweden
September 2: Born in Skänninge, Sweden, in the 13th century, St. Ingrid lived ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter