- NAME: St. Thomas Aquinas
- OCCUPATION: Philosopher, Priest, Saint, Theologian
- BIRTH DATE: c. 1225
- DEATH DATE: March 07, 1274
- EDUCATION: University of Naples
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Roccasecca, Italy
- PLACE OF DEATH: Fossanova, Italy
- AKA: Saint Thomas Aquinas
- Nickname: "The Universal Teacher"
- Nickname: "The Christian Apostle"
- AKA: Thomas Aquinas
Best Known For
Italian Dominican theologian St. Thomas Aquinas was one of the most influential medieval thinkers of Scholasticism and the father of the Thomistic school of theology.
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Combining traditional principles of theology with modern philosophic thought, St. Thomas Aquinas's treatises touched upon the questions and struggles of medieval intellectuals, church authorities and everyday people alike. Perhaps this is precisely what marked them as unrivaled in their philosophical influence at the time, and explains why they would continue to serve as a building block for contemporary thought—garnering responses from theologians, philosophers, critics and believers—thereafter.
A prolific writer, St. Thomas Aquinas penned close to 60 known works ranging in length from short to tome-like. Handwritten copies of his works were distributed to libraries across Europe. His philosophical and theological writings spanned a wide spectrum of topics, including commentaries on the Bible and discussions of Aristotle's writings on natural philosophy.
While teaching at Cologne in the early 1250s, St. Thomas Aquinas wrote a lengthy commentary on scholastic theologian Peter Lombard's Four Books of Sentences, called Scriptum super libros Sententiarium, or Commentary on the Sentences. During that period, he also wrote De ente et essentia, or On Being and Essence, for the Dominican monks in Paris.
In 1256, while serving as regent master in theology at the University of Paris, Aquinas wrote Impugnantes Dei cultum et religionem, or Against Those Who Assail the Worship of God and Religion, a treatise defending mendicant orders that William of Saint-Amour had criticized.
Written from 1265 to 1274, St. Thomas Aquinas's Summa Theologica is largely philosophical in nature and was followed by Summa Contra Gentiles, which, while still philosophical, comes across to many critics as apologetic of the beliefs he expressed in his earlier works.
St. Thomas Aquinas is also known for writing commentaries examining the principles of natural philosophy espoused in Aristotle's writings: On the Heavens, Meteorology, On Generation and Corruption, On the Soul, Nicomachean Ethics and Metaphysics, among others.
Shortly after his death, St. Thomas Aquinas's theological and philosophical writings rose to great public acclaim and reinforced a strong following among the Dominicans. Universities, seminaries and colleges came to replace Lombard's Four Books of Sentences with Summa Theologica as the leading theology textbook. The influence of St. Thomas Aquinas's writing has been so great, in fact, that an estimated 6,000 commentaries on his work exist to date.
In June 1272, St. Thomas Aquinas agreed to go to Naples and start a theological studies program for the Dominican house neighboring the university. While he was still writing prolifically, his works began to suffer in quality.
During the Feast of St. Nicolas in 1273, St. Thomas Aquinas had a mystical vision that made writing seem unimportant to him. At mass, he reportedly heard a voice coming from a crucifix that said, "Thou hast written well of me, Thomas; what reward wilt thou have?" to which St.
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