Imprisonment. By his own parents.
Yes, the parents of St. Thomas Aquinas opposed his entry into
the Dominican order. When ordinary persuasion didn't change his
plans, they finally imprisoned him for two years. But really all
that did was delay his entry.
St. Thomas Aquinas was born into a noble family, his parents
being related to the Count of Aquino and Countess of Teano. While
today that may mean little to you and I, then, it meant he was
directly related to Emperors Henry VI and Frederick II, and (yes,
we're not done yet!) the Kings of Aragon, Castile and France.
And this brilliant mind showed great potential for study (despite
his nickname of "dumb ox"), excelling in the three most
important subjects of his day: grammar, rhetoric and logic. Between
his natural talents and his relatives he was assured of success
in any secular measure.
And for a while it appeared that he decided University life would
be his true calling. But the pull of the religious life was too
He never displayed charismatic personality like St. Francis of
Assisi, nor was his life story as compelling as St. John of the
Cross (whose mother had placed him in an orphanage because of
her dire poverty), Saint Thomas Aquinas, nonetheless, created
an indelible mark on Catholicism. Besides his being perhaps of
the world's greatest theologians, Thomas, toward the end of his
life, had a mystical experience that transformed him the last
several months of his life. He said that what he experienced made
everything else in the world pale in comparison. Because of this
vision, he suddenly and unexpectedly halted all work on his manuscript.
He died, in fact, before he could finish it.
With a feast day of January 28, today Saint Thomas Aquinas is
the patron saint of all students. More than any other individual
represents the zenith of scholasticism. A Theological school of
thought, this thinking flourished for nearly 400 years - from
1100 to 1500. Scholasticism aimed to reconcile faith with reason
and the works of Aristotle with the Holy Scriptures.
This brilliant mind created what has become known as simply "The
Five Ways," a proof that is used to this day by many theologians
that God exists. The five ways include: motion, causation, contingency,
goodness and design.
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