Thomas was born in 1225 at Roccasecca, a hilltop castle
from which the great Benedictine abbey of Montecassino
is not quite visible, midway between Rome and Naples.
He is considered by the Catholic Church to be its greatest
theologian and one of the Doctors of the Church. It is
said that towards the end of his life he asked Jesus to
pass judgement upon one of his books, and Jesus replied:
" You have written well; continue to write whatever
your heart wishes to express.
At an early age he developed a profound love and reverence
for the scriptures. He was able to memorize large sections
and stunned his teachers with profound questions about
He also developed a great love for meditation and solitude.
He was often to be found in solitude.
Educated by Benedictine monks at Monte Cassino, and at
the University of Naples. He joined the Dominican friars
He studied in Paris from 1245-1248 under
Saint Albert the Great, then accompanied Albert to Cologne.
Ordained in 1250, then returned to Paris to teach. Taught
theology at 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. Recalled by king and
university to Paris in 1269, then recalled to Naples
in 1272 where he was appointed regent of studies while
working on his most famous work: the Summa Theologica.
On 6 December 1273 he experienced a divine
revelation which so enraptured him that he abandoned
the Summa, saying that it and his other writing 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.
His works have been seminal to the thinking
of the Church ever since. They systematized her great
thoughts and teaching, and combined Greek wisdom and
scholarship methods with the truths of Christianity.
Pope Leo VIII commanded that his teachings be studied
by all theology students. He was proclaimed Doctor of
the Church in 1567.
Thomas experienced many mystical experiences in his
life. There are numerous stories of Thomas being absorbed
in various states of enchantment and being unconscious
of his surroundings. Despite this he was a prolific
author and wrote over 100 works in his life.
Towards the end of his life he had a divine revelation
in the Chapel of St Nicholas in Naples it caused him
" I can no longer write, for God has given me such
glorious knowledge that all contained in my works are
as straw - barely fit to absorb the holy wonders that
fall in a stable," Three months later he died.
We must love them both, those
whose opinions we share and those opinions we do not
share. They've both labored in the search for Truth
and both have helped us in finding it.