Skip to content

St. Thomas Aquinas

Short Cuts

Author and Publisher - Catholic Online

Image of St. Thomas Aquinas


Feastday: January 28
Patron of students and all universities
Birth: 1226
Death: 1274
Canonized By: Pope John XXII in 1323

Thomas is believed to have been born in the castle of Roccasecca in the old county of the Kingdom of Sicily, which is now known as the Lazio region of Italy, in 1225. His parents were well-off, but as the youngest son Thomas was expected to enter the monastery.

At 5-years-old, Thomas began his education at Monte Cassino, where he remained until the military conflict between Emperor Frederick II and Pope Gregory IX reached the abbey. He was then transferred and enrolled at the studium generale in Naples.

It is believed that Thomas was introduced to his philosophical influences - Aristotle, Averroes, and Maimonides - at the university, where he also met John of St. Julian, a Dominican preacher, who influenced him to join the recently founded Dominican Order.

When Thomas' family learned of his decision, his mother Theodora arranged for him to be moved to Paris. When Thomas was travelling to Rome, his brothers captured him and returned him to their parents at the castle of Monte San Giovanni Campano.

Thomas was held captive in the castle for one year as his family tried to keep him from joining the Dominican Order. In the year he was held, Thomas tutored his sisters and communicated with members of the Dominican Order.

In an effort to change Thomas' mind, two of his brothers hired a prostitute to seduce him, but legends claim Thomas drove her off with a fire iron. That night, two angels appeared to him in a dream and strengthened his resolve to remain celibate.

When Theodora realized she could not sway her son, she tried to preserve the family name by arranging for his escape through a window. She believed a secret escape was better than appearing to accept his decision.

Following his escape in 1244, Thomas turned to Naples, then to Rome and met the Master General of the Dominical Order, Johannes von Wildeshausen.

The next year, Thomas went to study at the Faculty of the Arts at the University of Paris, where he is believed to have met Dominican scholar Albertus Mangus, the Chair of Theology at the College of St. James.

In 1248, Thomas chose to follow Mangus to the new studium generale at Cologne rather than accepting Pope Innocent IV's offer to appoint him abbot of Monte Cassino as a Dominican. Though Thomas hesitated, when they reached the university, Mangus appointed him magister studentium.

Thomas was quiet and seldom spoke at the university, leading other students to believe he was mentally delayed, but Mangus prophetically said, "You call him the dumb ox, but in his teaching, he will one day produce such a bellowing that it will be heard throughout the world."

Following the conclusion of his education, Thomas taught in Cologne as an apprentice professor and instructed students on the books of the Old Testament. It was during this time he wrote Expositio super Isaiam ad litteram, Postilla super Ieremiam, and Postilla super Threnos.

In 1252, Thomas returned to Paris to earn his master's degree in theology. As an apprentice professor, he lectured on the Bible and devoted his final three years of his education to Peter Lombard's Sentences.

Thomas composed a commentary on Sentences, titled Scriptum super libros Sententiarium and wrote De ente et essentia.
The spring of 1256 saw Thomas appointed regent master in theology at Paris, and one of his first works after assuming the office was Contra impugnantes Dei cultum et religionem, in defense of mendicant orders, which William of Saint-Amour had been attacking.

Between 1256 to 1259, Thomas spent his tenure writing several books, such as Questiones disputatae de veritate, Quaestiones quodlibetales, Expositio super librum Boethii De trinitate, and Expositio super librum Boethii De hebdomadibus. At the conclusion of his regency, Thomas was in the process of writing one of his most famous works, Summa contra Gentiles.

In 1259, Thomas completed his first regency and returned to Naples, where he was appointed general preacher. In September 1261, he was asked to lecture in Orvieto, and during his stay he finished Summa contra Gentiles, as well as Catena aurea, and Contra errores graecorum.

In 1265, Thomas was summoned to Rome to serve as the papal theologian and was later ordered by the Dominican Chapter of Agnani to teach at the studium conventuale, which was the first school to teach the full range of philosophical subjects of both moral and natural natures.

While teaching, Thomas wrote his most famous work, Summa theologiae, which he believed was particularly useful to beginning students "because a doctor of Catholic truth ought not only to teach the proficient, but to him pertains also to instruct beginners."

He continued to write and released several more books until 1268, when he was called to Paris for a second teaching regency. He was named regent master again and stayed until 1272. During this time, he wrote De virtutibus and De aeternitate mundi.

At the conclusion of his regency, the Dominicans called Thomas to establish a university wherever he wanted with a staff of whomever he wished. He established the university in Naples and took the regent master post. In 1273 Thomas was seen by the sacristan Domenic of Caserta to be crying and levitating in prayer before an icon of the crucified Christ at the Dominican convent of Naples, in the Chapel of Saint Nicholas.

During this prayer, Christ is said to have told him, "You have written well of me, Thomas. What reward would you have for your labor?"

Thomas replied, "Nothing but you, Lord."

Following this exchange, something happened but Thomas never wrote or spoke of it. He abandoned his routine and, when begged to return to work, replied, "I cannot, because all that I have written seems like straw to me."

In May of 1274, Thomas was called to the Second Council of Lyon, where his works for Pope Urban IV would be presented. While journeying to the meeting, Thomas hit his head on the branch of a fallen tree and fell ill. He was escorted to Monte Cassino to recover, then he set out again.

Unfortunately, he became ill once again and stopped at the Cistercian Fossanova Abbey, where the monks cared for him for several days.

He received his last rites and prayed, "I receive Thee, ransom of my soul. For love of Thee have I studied and kept vigil, toiled, preached and taught..."

Thomas died on March 7, 1274 during a commentary on the Song of Songs. Thomas' remains were placed in the Church of the Jacobins in Toulouse on January 28, 1369.

It is not known who beatified Thomas, but on July 18, 1323, Pope John XXII canonized him.

His original feast day was March 7, the day of his death, but because the date often falls within Lent, in 1969, a revision of the Roman Calendar changed his feast day to January 28, the date his relics were moved to Toulouse. Pope Pius V declared Saint Thomas a doctor of the church, saying Thomas was "the most brilliant light of the Church."
Saint Thomas' remains were moved to the Basilique de Sant-Sernin, Toulouse between 1789 and 1974. They were then returned to the Church of the Jacobins.

In the 16th century, the university in Paris, that Thomas often taught at, was renamed the College of Saint Thomas, and in the 20th century it was relocated to the convent of Saints Dominic and Sixtus before being transformed into the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas.

Saint Thomas' comments and philosophical writings are still debated today, and his aesthetic theories, such as the concept of claritas, deeply influenced the literary writings of James Joyce and Italian semiotician Umberto Eco. Saint Thomas is often depicted with an open book or writing with a quill.

A Student's Prayer by St. Thomas

Come, Holy Spirit, Divine Creator, true source of light and fountain of wisdom! Pour forth your brilliance upon my dense intellect, dissipate the darkness which covers me, that of sin and of ignorance.

Grant me a penetrating mind to understand, a retentive memory, method and ease in learning, the lucidity to comprehend, and abundant grace in expressing myself. Guide the beginning of my work, direct its progress, and bring it to successful completion.

This I ask through Jesus Christ, true God and true man, living and reigning with You and the Father, forever and ever.

St. Patrick: Man, Myth & Holiday

Learn interesting facts and tidbits about the beloved St. Patrick.

Learn More

St. Thomas Aquinas Comments

More Saints

St. Patrick: Man, Myth & Holiday

Learn interesting facts and tidbits about the beloved St. Patrick.

Learn More

Browse Saints by Category

Popular Saints




Image of St. Juan Diego

St. Juan Diego

Saint Juan Diego was born in 1474 as Cuauhtlatoatzin, a native to Mexico. He became the first Roman Catholic indigenous saint from the Americas. Following the early death of his father, ... continue reading


Image of St. Gianna Beretta Molla

St. Gianna Beretta Molla

St. Gianna Beretta Molla was an Italian pediatrician born in Magenta in the Kingdom of Italy on October 4, 1922. She was the tenth of thirteen children in her family. At three-years-old, ... continue reading


Image of St. Veronica

St. Veronica

Saint Veronica is known as the woman who offered a cloth to Jesus so He could wipe His face on the way to His crucifixion. The cloth is believed to exist today in the Vatican and is ... continue reading

All Popular Saints

Saint of the Day

Image of St. Patrick

St. Patrick

St. Patrick of Ireland is one of the world's most popular saints. He was born in Roman Britain and when he was fourteen or so, he was captured by Irish pirates during a raiding party and taken to ... continue reading

More Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day by E-Mail

Saint of the Day newsletter icon

Learn about the lives of the saints and other saint resources, including a calendar, over 5,000 saint biographies, our most popular saints, and a list of patron saints. 7 days / week. See Sample


Female Saints

Image of St. Catherine Laboure

St. Catherine Laboure

St. Catherine Laboure, virgin, was born on May 2, 1806. At an early age she entered the community of the Daughters of Charity, in Paris, France. Three times in 1830 the Virgin Mary appeared to St. Catherine Laboure, who then was a twenty-four year old novice. On July ... continue reading

More Female Saints

Saint Calendar
Saint Feast Days
Saint Fun Facts


Image of St. Michael the Archangel

St. Michael the Archangel

Saint Michael the Archangel isn't a saint, but rather he is an angel, and the leader of all angels and of the army of God. This is what the title "Archangel" means, that he is above all the others in rank. St. Michael has four main responsibilities or offices, as we ... continue reading

Image of St. Gabriel, the Archangel

St. Gabriel, the Archangel

St. Gabriel is an angel who serves as a messenger for God to certain people. He is one of the three archangels. Gabriel is mentioned in both the Old and the New Testaments of the Bible. First, in the Old Testament, Gabriel appears to the prophet Daniel to explain his ... continue reading

Saints Fun Facts

Saints Fun Facts for St. Bertin

St. Bertin

St. Bertin was born about the beginning of the 7th century near Constance, France, and received his religious formation at the abbey of Luxeuil, at that time, the model abbey for the rather strict Rule of St. Columban. About 639, together with two other monks, he ... continue reading

Saints Fun Facts for St. Blaise

St. Blaise

Saint Blaise was the bishop of Sebastea and a doctor. The first known record of the saint's life comes from the medical writings of AĆ«tius Amidenus, where he is recorded as helping with patients suffering from objects stuck in their throat. Many of the miraculous ... continue reading

Christian Saints & Heroes

Image of Bl. Oscar Romero.

Surprising facts about Bl. Oscar Romero

By David Ramos and Elise Harris (CNA)

In his role as Vicar General, Monsignor Ricardo Urioste was one of the closest collaborators of Oscar Romero, the archbishop of San Salvador who was martyred for the faith in 1980 and beatified in 2015. San Salvador, El Salvador (CNA/EWTN News) - And this monsignor has ... continue reading

More Christian Saints & Heroes

Never Miss any Updates!

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

Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

The California Network
Inspiring streaming service

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Catholic Online Singles
Safe, secure Catholic dating

The California Studios
World-class post production service

Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

School Teachers
Teacher lesson plans & resources

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.