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Full text of "Saint Thomas Aquinas, of the order of preachers (1225-1274). A biographical study of the Angelic doctor"

THE FRIAR SAINTS SERIES 

Editors for the Franciscan Lives 
The Very Rev. Fr. OSMUND, O.F.M., Provincial, and C. M. ANTONY 

Editors for the Dominican Lives 
The Rev. Fr. BEDE JARRETT, O.P., and C. M. ANTONY 



ST. THOMAS AQUINAS 




BiiSiPtV* vivo EXPRESSIT" 

FROM PORTRAIT NOW IN COLLKGIO ANGELICO, ROME, 
BY UNKNOWN ARTIST, ALMOST CONTEMPORARY. 



SAINT 
THOMAS AQUINAS 

OF THE ORDER OF PREACHERS 

(1225-1274) 



A BIOGRAPHICAL STUDY OF THE 
ANGELIC DOCTOR 

BY 

FR. PLACID CONWAY, O.P. 




WITH 



LONGMANS, GREEN AND CO. 

FOURTH AVENUE AND 30TH STREET, NEW YORK 
LONDON, BOMBAY AND CALCUTTA 



PREFATORY NOTICE. 

THE first two volumes of the " Friar Saints " 
Series now published will be followed at short 
intervals by four more " Lives," two at a time, 
Dominican and Franciscan together. Should 
the first six " Lives " prove successful they 
will be followed by a second set of six. 
The order of publication will probably be as 
follows : 



Dominican. 

(1) St. Thomas Aquinas. 

By Fr. PLACID CON- 
WAY, O.P. 

(2) St. Vincent Ferrer. 

By Fr. STANISLAUS 

HOGAN, O.P. 

(3) St. PiusV. ByC. M. 

ANTONY. 



Franciscan. 

(1) St. Bona venture. By 

Fr. LAURENCE Cos- 
TELLOE, O.F.M. 

(2) St. Antony of Padua. 

By C. M. ANTONY. 



(3) St. John Capistran. 
By Fr. VINCENT FITZ- 
GERALD, O.F.M. 



(4) St. Antoninus of 
Florence. By Fr. 
BRDE JARRBTT, O.P. 



(4) St. Bernardine of 
Siena. By Miss M. 
WARD. 



222456 



vi PREFATORY NOTICE. 

Dominican. Franciscan. 

(5) St. Raymond of Penna- (5) St. Leonard of Port- 

fort. By Fr. THOMAS Maurice. By Fr. 

SCHWERTNER, O.P. ALEXANDER MURPHY. 

O.F.M. 

(6) St. Louis Bertrand. (6) St. Peter of Alcantara. 

By the Rev. Mother By Fr. EGBERT 

MARY REGINALD, CARROL, O.F.M. 

O.S.D. 

The "Friar Saints" Series, which has 
received the warm approval of the authorities 
of both Orders in England, Ireland, and 
America, is earnestly recommended to Ter- 
tiaries, and to the Catholic public generally. 

The Master-General of the Dominicans, at 
Rome, sending his blessing to the writers and 
readers of the " Friar Saints" Series, says: 
"The Lives should teach their readers not 
only to know the Saints, but also to imitate 
them ". 

The Minister-General of the Franciscans, 
Fr. Denis Schuler, sends his blessing and best 
wishes for the success of the " Lives of the 
Friar Saints". 

F. OSMUND, O.F.M., PROVINCIAL, 
F. BEDE JARRETT, O.P., 
C. M. ANTONY, 

Editors. 



PREFACE. 

" GOD is wonderful in His saints " (Ps. LXVII. 
36). A saint's life is one of God's most 
wonderful products, because it is the develop- 
ment of the Divine life within the natural 
man, and in no common measure. 

Saintliness is the heroism of goodness, or 
holiness risen to perfection, making its sub- 
ject to be within and without a man of God. 
But besides the common perfection which 
comes of grace, there is stamped on each oi 
God's servants some special feature of the 
Divine attributes, and this forms the genius 
of the individual. In St. Thomas Aquinas 
it is Divine Truth which shines forth within 
and without, in the lustre of learning and 
teaching, so that the words of the Psalmist 
are verified in his life : " Thou hast laid bare 
to me the deep and hidden things of Thy 
Wisdom" (Ps. L. 7). He was the hive of 
the world's honey of all ages. 



viii PREFACE. 

Years are but as a day with God, hence, 
a gracious life may be presented for our 
contemplation as He evolved it, in its periods 
of Morn, and Noon, and Evening, followed 
by the Night, when after toil it passed into 
glory. This memoir is based on the accounts 
left by two of the saint's brethren, once his 
disciples, William de Tocco and Ptolomeo 
de Lucca, who to their personal witness added 
the Reports of the Commissions held by three 
Cardinals in Rome, and by the Archbishops 
of Naples and Capua, and the Bishop of 
Viterbo in their respective dioceses, on the 
holy doctor's decease. Further details have 
been gleaned from the pages of Pere Touron, 
"Vie de Saint Thomas d'Aquin," issued in 
quarto in 1741 ; also from materials supplied 
in the life of Blessed Albert, who was the 
saint's chief teacher. 

Such a biography is especially opportune 
in our day, on the revival of scholastic learning 
in the domains of Philosophy and Theology, 
of which St. Thomas was the highest ex- 
ponent, while he stands supreme as the patron 
of the Christian Schools. 



CONTENTS. 



PART I: MORN. 

CHAP. PAOS 

I. His BIRTH AND EARLY EDUCATION . . i 
II. VOCATION AND TRIALS 13 



PART II: NOON. 

III. HE STUDIES AT COLOGNE, AND PARIS: His 

BACHELORSHIP AND PRIESTHOOD . . 23 

IV. HE GRADUATES AS DOCTOR .... 39 

V. FIRST PERIOD OF His WRITINGS : His SYSTEM 

AND METHOD OF STUDY .... 45 

PART III: EVENING. 

VI. SECOND PERIOD OF His WRITINGS . . 62 

VII. His HEROIC SANCTITY 76 

VIII. THIRD PERIOD OF His WRITINGS : His DEATH 90 

PART IV: THE NIGHT OF REST. 

IX. His MIRACLES, AND CANONIZATION . . 103 

X. TRANSLATIONS OF His RELICS . . .in 

EPILOGUE. COMMENDATIONS OF His DOCTRINE . 115 

CONCISE BIBLIOGRAPHY 118 



IX 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS. 

" Divus THOMAS QUEM DISCIPULUS E 

vivo EXPRESSIT " .... Frontispiece 

From a Portrait now in Collegia Angelica, 
Rome, by unknown artist, almost con- 
temporary. 

" ST. THOMAS AS JUSTICE." Roof-medal- 
lion from Orcagnd's " Triumph of St. 
Thomas " in the Strozzi Chapel, Church 
of Sta Maria Novella, Florence . . To face p. 20 
From a Photograph by Alinari. 

ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. Lunette Fresco in 
Cloister of San Marco, Florence, by Fra 
Angelica da Fiesole .... 76 

From a Photograph by A linari. 

ALTAR-PIECE BY GUERCINO, in the Chapel 
of St. Thomas Aquinas, Church of St. 

Dominic, Bologna ,, 102 

From a Photograph by A linari. 

BODY OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS (IN CHASSE 
ABOVE ALTAR) removed from Dominican 
Church at the Revolution to the Chapel 
of the Holy Ghost, Church of St. Sernin, 

Toulouse 112 

From a Photograph. 



PART I. : MORN. 

CHAPTER I. 
BIRTH AND EARLY EDUCATION. 

THE noble Aquino family could boast of a descent 
through four centuries from the Lombard Princes, 
besides being allied with the Sovereign houses of 
Europe in the thirteenth century. The family 
name was a territorial one, which in Latin and 
French idioms of speech appears as Aquinas and 
d'Aquin. St. Thomas was born in the Castle of 
Rocca Secca, perched high in the mountains, some 
seven miles from Aquino which lies in the plain 
below, in the Campagna Felice of the Kingdom of 
Naples. He first saw the light in the opening days 
of the year 1225, less than four years from the death 
of St. Dominic. Landulf, his father, was nephew 
to the Emperor Frederick I ; he belonged to the 
noble house of Sommacoli, and was Count of 
Aquino, Lord of Loreto, Acerra, and Belcastro. 
His mother, Theodora Carraciola, Countess of 
Teano in her own right, was sprung from the Nor- 
man Princes. St. Thomas, their third son, was 
i 



2 !;';. ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

cousin to the Emperors Henry VI and Frederick II, 
and closely allied to the Kings of Aragon, Castile, 
and France ; while on his grandmother's side he 
could trace descent from England's Saxon Kings. 
For godfather he had Pope Honorius III, the 
Pontiff who confirmed the Order of Preachers, of 
which the child was destined to be the brightest 
luminary. The Aquinos were a military race, so 
Landulf gave to his third son a name already 
famous in arms, Thomas, in memory of his own 
father, who had been Captain- General of the Im- 
perial forces ; little did he dream then that the 
boy would be a soldier of Christ, wielding the 
sword of Truth, and an undying leader of intel- 
lectual hosts. 

The future holiness of the unborn babe was 
disclosed to his mother by a holy hermit of the 
neighbourhood, known simply as Buono, or God's 
good man. Clad in a rough garment, and with 
hair unkempt, he presented himself at Rocca Secca, 
and pointing to a picture of the holy patriarch 
St. Dominic, who was not yet canonized, he thus 
addressed the Countess : " Lady, be glad, for thou 
art about to have a son whom thou shalt call 
Thomas. Thou and thy husband will think of 
making him a monk in the Abbey of Monte Cas- 
sino, where St. Benedict's body reposes, in the 
hopes that your son will attain to its honours and 
wealth. But God has disposed otherwise, because 
he will become a friar of the Order of Preachers, 
and so great will be his learning and sanctity that 



BIRTH AND EARLY EDUCATION. 3 

his equal will not be found through the whole 
world." Theodora listened with awe to the pre- 
sage, then, falling upon her knees, exclaimed : " I 
am all unworthy of bearing such a son, but, God's 
will be done according to His good pleasure ". 

In due time the child was baptized under the 
name of Thomas, which signifies Abyss, while the 
Bishop of Aquino stood as proxy for the Sovereign 
Pontiff. In God's deep counsels a name imposed 
often stands prophetic of destiny : so was it in this 
instance, for in after days " the abyss put forth its 
voice" (Habacuc HI. 10). From the hour of the 
prophetic telling, Thomas was the fruit of her soul 
by prayer as of a mother's womb by nature. A 
special providence watched over him during in- 
fancy. One night in June, 1228, a lightning stroke 
smote the tower in which the child of grace lay 
sleeping beside his nurse : in agony of mind the 
alarmed mother ran to the spot, to find him un- 
harmed, while her little daughter lay dead and 
charred, and the horses in the stables beneath were 
killed. This occurrence left in him a life-long nerv- 
ousness and dread of storms, which he could never 
allay. In consequence of this, in later years in a 
subterranean cave at Anagni, he traced upon the 
walls in capital letters this distich in fashion 'of a 
cross : 

Crux. Mihi. Certa. Salus. 
Crux. Est. Quam. Semper. Adoro. 
Crux. Domini. Mecum. 
Crux. Mihi, Refugium. 



4 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

The Cross is my sure safety. 
It is the Cross that I ever adore. 
The Lord's Cross is with me. 
The Cross is my refuge. 1 

Thomas was a gentle child, with deep lustrous 
eyes and thoughtful expression of countenance, in 
whom piety appeared as a Divine gift of nature, 
an inborn sense of soul. His earliest turnings of 
mind and heart were to God, so that even in the 
dawn of his day he was spoken of as a child of 
grace. Free from the wonted petulance of child- 
hood, he showed little of its giddiness, still he was 
always cheerful and of modest demeanour. He 
loved to gaze with eyes of wonder on the illumin- 
ated pages of missals or scripts which he was in- 
capable of understanding, while the stillness of the 
chapel with its solitary light exercised a fascination 
on his tender mind. Gentle and fleeting as a 
Spring shower are the tears of childhood. If at 
any time they fell from his sunny face, the sight of 
a book or manuscript would always comfort him : 
it was his toy, his plaything, and to turn the pages 
ever and again was his little world of joy ; clearly 
the child was father of the man. There is some- 
thing startling, even eerie, in a child's piety, in its 
innocence, unconscious of guile, in its human faith 
of trust, its first turnings upwards : like the turning 
of the flower to the sun is a child's soul stirred and 
drawn heavenwards. When the Psalmist broke 

1 An Indulgence of 300 days is attached to its recital. 



BIRTH AND EARLY EDUCATION. 5 

out in rhapsody : " Thy magnificence, O Lord, is 
elevated above the heavens'," he instantly turns to 
the thought of the child : " Out of the mouths of in- 
fants and of sucklings Thou hast perfected praise " 
(Ps. viii. 2, 3). All this we have to realize in the 
childhood of St. Thomas, whose young virgin soul , 
like some clear pool, reflected the Creator's image. 
As the first years drew on, he, like another Holy 
Child in Nazareth, grew in spiritual beauty before 
God and men, His angelic comeliness and sweet- 
ness of disposition increased, so that he charmed 
irresistibly all with whom he came in contact. 

The first parting with home came in the autumn 
of 1231, when he was but six and a half years old. 
Six miles away to the south stands the venerable 
Abbey of Monte Cassino on a high plateau, and 
visible from Aquino and Rocca Secca. This an- 
cient home of learning and piety was the school 
in which Count Landulf placed his boy, not in 
the cloister, but in the school for youths of gentle 
birth, since the old time custom of placing chil- 
dren in the cloister was extinct by papal mandate 
quite a century before. The monks of St. Benedict 
were deeply beholden to the Aquinos, who had 
defended their sanctuary against Roger, King of 
Sicily : at this very time the Lord Abbot, the 
fiftieth in line, was the young scholar's uncle, 
Landulf Sennebald. There the boy spent five 
years under the tutelage of those God-fearing men, 
but attended by his family tutor or governor, while 
the rare gifts of mind and soul expanded. It was 



6 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

not an unbroken stay in the abbey, for when the 
holidays came round, he rode to Loreto or Bel- 
castro to regain his family circle. During his stay 
in the school he learnt the common elements of a 
child's education, how to speak and write correctly 
his native Italian tongue, also the rudiments of 
Latin and French : to this .would naturally be 
added the religious catechism suited to his tender 
years, and the school discipline of obedience. The 
memory of his residence there was long treasured 
up, and rehearsed in after days by the monks, who 
loved to speak of the precocious mind which would 
muse on Divine problems, and put such questions 
as these: "What is God? How can we know 
God? What is Truth .?" Anything savouring of 
levity or carelessness was never seen in him : how- 
ever amiable he was towards his young companions 
or ready to pay them a service, he was slow to join 
in their boyish chatter, slower still at joining in 
their games. His refining influence made itself 
felt among them, but the companionship he prized 
most was a book, and his favourite retreat the 
church. The atmosphere of the quiet cloistered 
precincts was a congenial one : it nurtured his 
observant powers, and formed the silent thinker, 
the* prayerful spirit, who spoke so deeply in ma- 
turer years. 

Mid- way between his eleventh and twelfth years 
came the violent transition which so often mars 
characters of promise. The shy boy, with those 
round ox-like eyes set deep and clear, must pass 



BIRTH AND EARLY EDUCATION. ^ 

from peace to tumult, from private to public schools, 
and to streets often mad with revelry. What the 
school begins, the University completes, with its 
fuller range of sciences, its vaster auditory, its skilled 
professors : so, acting on the advice of Abbot Sene- 
bald, the boy passes the threshold of a Catholic 
University. The choice lay between two such seats 
of learning, far-away Bologna of long-standing emi- 
nence, and its younger rival, Naples, which was 
close to hand. A law of the Emperor Frederick II, 
its founder, forbade his subjects to study elsewhere 
than in Naples, so Count Landulfs choice was re- 
duced to one of compliance. During this summer's 
holiday time, which was spent at Loreto, Thomas 
busied himself in visiting the needy and relieving 
their wants, especially since famine was pressing 
severely on the country. Not content with carry- 
ing constantly the common necessaries of life, he 
often brought to them the delicacies meant for his 
own use. Such generosity being reported in an 
unfavourable light to his father, the Count resolved 
on curbing his actions, if not his compassion. One 
morning as the boy was speeding forth on his errand 
of mercy, with a supply of white bread under his 
cloak, Landulf stayed his steps, and demanded to 
be shown what he was carrying away. Crimsoned 
with confusion, Thomas was about to explain, when 
the father roughly plucked the cloak aside, and an 
armful of fragrant roses fell at his feet. The father 
saw the hand of God in the act, for he had been 
stealthily watching the tender culprit, then he strode 



8 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. . 

hastily away in tears ; long he pondered over the 
reports which had reached his willing ears, of the 
glowing halo seen at times round the mysterious 
boy's head. 

It was in the autumn* of 1236 that Thomas 
Aquinas entered Naples University. He had his 
own residence and retinue, but continued under 
the vigilant eye of the same governor as when at 
Monte Cassino, who now acted as his good angel 
in the city so aptly described as " a very paradise 
of God, but inhabited by demons ". Knowledge 
of evil is not of itself evil, else the angels would not 
be clean : so the boy's clear perception of worldli- 
ness and flaunted vice served only to foster his 
spirit of reserve, of communing with God, while, 
like Daniel in Babylon, he prayed to be kept clean. 
Making the Psalmist's speech his own, he made 
,, daily use of these brief prayers : "Prove me, Lord, 
and try me. Lord, let Thy face shine upon Thy 
servant, teach me Thy ways of holiness. Guide my 
steps according to Thy behest, that no iniquity may 
take hold of me." Lodged according to his rank, 
he often rode round the fair bay of Naples, past the 
glowing splendour or frequent fury of Vesuvius, 
images to him of heaven and of hell, to gaze on 
the sites of cities long buried, Pompeii, and Hercu- 
laneum, or else crossing the waters, to behold the 
wonders of the blue grottoes of Capri. Nowhere 
else is Nature garbed in richer array, but it cried to 
him only of God, while his soul found response in 
the exclamation of Augustine of Hippo : " If the 



BIRTH AND EARLY EDUCATION. g 

works of His hands be so lovely, O how much more 
beautiful must He be Who made them ! " The 
words of the Creator's approval kept recurring in 
memory : " And He saw that they were good ". 
What holds the natural man to earth, uplifts the 
spiritual man heavenwards ; so in his ripening youth 
he was fired with the poetry of Nature, but as a 
Divine song. 

During the seven years of his stay, as the boy 
grew into the man of uncommon stature in body 
and intellect, he studied to good purpose under 
men of eminence. He pursued the course of 
studies which was common to all Universities of 
the time. During four years he passed through the 
Trivium, under the distinguished Pietro Martini: 
this comprised grammar, 1 logic and rhetoric, which 
he completed when fourteen and a half years old. 
The higher studies of the Quadrivium, a three years' 
course, embracing music, mathematics, geometry, 
and astronomy, he pursued under a professor of 
note, Peter from Ireland. There can be no doubt 
of the fact that our saintly scholar graduated in 
both courses, which covered the whole range of 
the classics, logic, and physics. Both masters 
held him in high esteem, and constantly pointed 
him out as a pattern of industry. A singularly re- 
tentive memory and sense of logic enabled him to 
repeat the lesson more deeply and lucidly than the 
professors had given it, so that the scholars came 

1 The study of the poets, the historians, and the art ot 
speaking and writing properly. 



io ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

to regard him as a miracle of holiness and learn- 
ing, an angel in the schools, though not yet " The 
Angel of the Schools ". Such talent left him much 
leisure time, yet without idleness, for it was all 
given to assimilating knowledge by method and 
discipline. 

Man's soul is simple in its nature, but very com- 
plex in its workings, especially when acting through 
the senses. The Pars Superior is the soul un- 
trammelled in its purely spiritual workings of un- 
derstanding or volition, regarding things which are 
beyond Nature's horizon. At its greatest altitude 
it rises up to the Divine. The Pars Inferior is the 
same spirit working through the senses. As Aris 
to tie observes, and the Schoolmen agree, " there is 
nothing in the understanding except it first come 
under the senses " : from this common rule one 
must exclude first principles, which all mankind 
instantly accepts because of their self-evidence. 
Education is nothing else than the drawing out 
of these parts with their latent powers, even as 
Nature's secret forces can be drawn forth by attrac- 
tion : thus while the powers are sharpened, their 
store of accretions is termed knowledge. Now all 
this economy of the mind was grasped by the 
youthful Aquinas, and brought to bear on his 
threefold plan of self-education. Endowed with 
genius of intellect, as the eagle soaring above the 
commoner birds of the air, he first carefully scanned, 
then boldly swept across the intellectual horizon. 

His first field of education was Divine. God was 



BIRTH AND EARLY EDUCATION. n 

his centre of gravity, to which he ever inclined, his 
highest zone of speculative thought, his fountain- 
head of spirituality in mind and heart. Such edu- 
cation is productive of sanctity, because it is seek- 
ing and finding, feeding upon and assimilating 
Divine Truth, not as from afar, but by union of 
intimacy with Him Who is Truth. If the child 
queried What is Truth? and What is God? 
the youth answered his own query : " God is 
Truth, and all truth is of God ". Such pursuit of 
highest truth produces wisdom, of which, as of 
compassion, he could say : " It grew with me from 
infancy" (Job xxxi. 18). "Wisdom led the just 
man along righteous ways, showed him God's king- 
dom, and imparted to him the knowledge of holy 
things " (Wis. x. 10). Thomas was a theologian 
in potency as one wedded to Divine Wisdom. 

His second domain of industry in learning was 
among men. In the writings left of the ancients, 
he found thought distributed among the poets, 
the orators, the philosophers: these he read stu- 
diously now, and stored them up in the cells of 
memory. Most of them he read but once in a 
lifetime, and that was at this very period : of course 
all Thomist students are quite aware of the great 
exception with regard to Aristotle's works, for these 
were constantly at his elbow. All is true subjec- 
tively in the writings of those men of old-time fame, 
that is, if judged from their standpoint, and accord- 
ing to the schools they represented : much therein 
is true also objectively, and elevating even from 

2 



12 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

our Christian coign of vantage. But the question 
with the solid thinker is where precisely to fix his 
standpoint. In first principles all men are agreed, 
with few dissentients, such as sceptics, and even 
these postulate some one first principle : the part- 
ing of the ways comes where Revelation steps in. 
uplifting and guiding Reason. From Aristotle 
to St. Thomas, philosophy made no sensible pro- 
gress, but rather the reverse: but when the saint 
Christianized the Stagyrite, and brought his writ- 
ings into line with Revelation, then the thoughts of 
men reverted to the past, and grew vigorous in 
consequence. Such was the scholastic revival of 
the thirteenth century, devised by this vigorous 
young thinker in Naples. 

His third field of self-culture was Nature, whose 
open page all men read, and so few understand. 
He was a careful observer of Nature's laws, of 
matter, and force, and forms, and causalities : but 
while turning to Nature he was no slavish empiri- 
cist, as will be seen later on. With him, mentality 
ever held the first place. Above all things he was 
consistent, because consistency comes of an evenly 
balanced mind: the Eclecticism of past and present 
teachers he would certainly have ascribed to the 
inconsistency of illogical minds, resulting in a 
perversion of order, and stultifying of principles. In 
Naples this youth had assimilated from his reading 
all that Cicero has comprised in his definition of 
Philosophy : " The knowledge of things Divine and 
human and of their disposing causes ". 



VOCATION AND TRIALS. 13 

CHAPTER II. 
VOCATION AND TRIALS. 

HAVING seen the scholar in his morn of toil, let us 
now turn to the youth aspiring to the Religious 
state : bent on rising to spiritual perfection accord- 
ing to grace, he naturally sought out and embraced 
the state which is conducive to such perfection. 

The germ of a vocation to the Religious life, and 
to the Dominican form of such life in particular, 
fell early upon his eager soul, where it germinated 
through nine years before blossoming into reality 
of fulfilment. When but nine and a half years old 
he witnessed a spectacle at Monte Cassino which 
entered deeply into his soul : it was the solemnity 
of St. Dominic's canonization Mass, granted on 1 3 
July, and kept on 5 August, 1234, the exaltation 
of that Dominic who so recently had been the 
"Doctor of Truth and Preacher of Grace," the 
story of whose life was fresh on men's lips. There 
is a spiritual affinity in saintship, so the spirit of 
the child went out to the man of God who was 
soon to call him son. In the Dominican church at 
Naples, Thomas wis often seen absorbed in prayer, 
while spreading rays of light shone from his head. 
The friars were well aware of it, so that, after 
witnessing the marvel for the third time, Fr. John 
of St. Julien said to him: "Our Lord has given 
you to our Order". Ripening intimacy begot 
resolve. When he was but fifteen and a half years 

2 * 



14 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

of age, on the completion of his Trivium, he 
declared to the Prior of San Domenico that for 
some time he had ardently desired to give himself 
to the Order. On bended knees he made his 
humble suit and protestation: "But I am not 
worthy, and is not my age an obstacle?" Fr. 
Thomas d'Agni di Lentino, the Prior, and Fr. John 
of St. Julien, a famous preacher, bade him foster 
the grace of a vocation, but advised him to wait for 
three more years. This he accordingly did. When 
eighteen and a half years of age, he was clothed in 
the holy habit as a Friar Preacher, in August, 1243, 
probably on St. Dominic's feast-day, which was then 
kept on the 5th. It was a momentous step, a 
memorable occasion, for the ceremony was carried 
out before a distinguished assembly. Not a word 
was spoken to parents or to others of his design : 
he had learnt his lesson from a saying of Tobias : 
" It is a good thing to hide the King's secret" 
(xn. 7). From that happy hour until death his 
conduct might be expressed in the language of St. 
Paul : " Forgetting the things that are behind, and 
stretching forth myself to those that are before, I 
pursue towards the mark, for the prize of the 
heavenly vocation of God in Christ Jesus " (Phil, 
in. 13, 14). 

Soon the tidings reached Rocca Secca that 
Thomas had entered the cloister of the Preach- 
ing Friars, which evoked a storm of indignation. 
His mother was especially angered, not because he 
had chosen to quit the world, but at the unpardon- 



VOCATION AND TRIALS. 15 

able affront of the scion of a princely house donning 
the garb of a mendicant friar. Complaints wefe 
addressed to the Pope and to the Archbishop of 
Naples, while loud were the menaces uttered against 
the Father- General and the Prior, and these were 
caught up by the common herd in the street : as 
for the monks of the two Benedictine communities 
in Naples and their brethren of Monte Cassino, they 
made no protest, advanced no plea, since it was no 
concern of theirs, nor did they move or speak at 
his profession two years later. Theodora d' Aquino 
was a woman of resolute spirit, now thoroughly 
roused : hermits may prophesy, that is their busi- 
ness, but the settlement of a son is a domestic affair, 
largely a woman's affair, if she can but have her 
way. But no sooner did she perceive that noise 
and fury would not prevail, than she set out for 
Naples with masked batteries of tears and en- 
treaties, to induce him to return home. One thing 
she overlooked in her gage of battle, and that was 
that her son was also an Aquino, a man of like 
determined character, though of calmer mood. 
Directly Thomas heard of her setting out, he took 
the by-road to Rome, and entered the Convent of 
Santa Sabina, St. Dominic's former home on the 
Aventine. Thither the eager mother pursued him. 
Strong in his sense of fidelity to a Divine call, 
Thomas refused even to see her when she clam- 
oured in the porch. " Whoever loves father or 
mother more than Me, is not worthy of Me " 
(Matt. x. 37). What his sentiments were then he 



16 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

subsequently wrote in his " Summa Theologica " 
(lla Hoe Quest. CIX, article 4), when treating of 
piety, or duty towards parents. The article is 
entitled " Whether Duties towards Parents Are To 
Be Set Aside for the Sake of Religion ". The 
answer is a distinct negative, but admitting of one 
saving exception, which he exposes in the following 
terms : 

"If reverence for parents withdraws us from 
God's worship, then we must not stand by duty to 
parents against God. Accordingly St. Jerome says 
in his Letter to Heliodorus, towards the opening : 
' Set father aside, treading upon him, set mother 
aside, treading upon her, with dry eyes fly to the 
standard of the Cross : to be cruel in such a matter 
is the height of piety '. Consequently, in such an 
issue, the duties of filial piety must be set aside for 
the sake of the Divine worship of religion. But if 
by rendering due reverence to parents we are not 
withdrawn from God's worship, then it will be a 
part of piety, and so it will not be necessary to drop 
piety for the sake of religion." 

While the Countess made Rome ring with her 
complaints and threats, the heroic novice hurried 
off northwards to Paris. Straightway Theodora 
vowed to capture and hold the runaway : a mounted 
courier was speedily dispatched to her elder sons, 
Landulf and Raynald, who then commanded the 
Emperor's forces in Tuscany, bidding them to seize 
him vi et armis. Thomas was resting by a spring 
with two friars, close to the little town of Acqua- 



VOCATION AND TRIALS. 17 

pendente, between Sienna and Lake Bolsena, when 
a troop of horse surprised him. His brothers reviled 
him for his undutiful behaviour, then bade him 
put off his habit and return home. Raynald laid 
violent hands upon him and tried to tear it from his 
shoulders, but to no purpose, so the brothers led 
him back to Rocca Secca. Since his resolution 
was not to be shaken, at their father's bidding the 
brothers led him off to the village of Monte San 
Giovanni, some two miles away, where they shut 
him as a close prisoner in the castle tower. There 
he was subjected to harsh treatment, stripped of his 
religious habit, reviled, and deprived of every com- 
fort. Count Landulf visited his son from time to 
time to induce him, nay, force him, to forsake the 
Dominican Life : he left a costly suit of garments, 
and a Benedictine habit, declaring he would be 
fully satisfied if Thomas would but don the one or 
the other. What he looked to was pride of place : 
his son should grace the Court, or rule as Lord 
Abbot of Monte Cassino. 

Like Christ in the desert, the novice had to 
encounter three classes of temptation, and came 
forth victorious. The world tempted him, first by 
the softness of a mother's tears and entreaties : 
when these failed of their purpose, it tried the 
coaxings of his worldly minded sisters, who re- 
hearsed the father's plea of fame at Court or in 
arms, or else in Church preferment. By simple 
and earnest discourse the novice won them over 
completely to God : Marietta, the elder sister, em- 



i8 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

braced the cloistered state, and died as Abbess of 
St. Mary's at Capua ; Theodora, afterwards Countess 
of Marisco, entered upon a life of singular holiness. 
1'rom that hour both laboured to ameliorate his 
hardships. 

A stronger temptation then assailed him through 
the baseness of his brothers. Lust of the flesh is 
death to spirituality : so they bribed a base woman 
to try her lures, and entangle him in the Circe web 
of sin. Seizing a burning faggot from the hearth, 
he drove her from the chamber, then, falling on his 
knees, he traced the sign of the Cross upon the 
wall with the flaming brand, and poured out his 
soul in thanks to God. Presently a gentle sleep 
stole upon him, like to Adam's sleep of innocence 
in Paradise. Then by his side he beheld two 
angels who girt him about with a lily-white girdle, 
saying the while : " We come to thee from God, to 
bestow upon thee the grace of perpetual virginity ". 
They girded him so tightly that he awoke with a 
loud cry of pain. He wore the sacred girdle all 
through life, and only revealed the secret at its 
close to Fr. Reginald of Piperno, who was his 
bosom friend and confessor, assuring him that from 
that hour he was never again conscious of the 
slightest sensual motions. The prison cell in after 
years was turned into a chapel, which may yet be 
seen in a dilapidated condition. The angelic girdle 
was preserved with reverence in the convent of his 
Order at Vercelli, in Piedmont, down to the sup- 
pression of the religious houses during the wars of 



VOCATION AND TRIALS. 19 

Napoleon I : it is now kept at Chieri, near Turin, 
the first house restored. 

This precious relic was solemnly transferred in 
1894 to a new reliquary, which is a magnificent 
work of art, made of bronze over-gilt. Standing 
quite six feet six inches in height, of hexagonal shape 
and Gothic design, it has six medallions on the 
base, displaying scenes in his life, wrought in finest 
Roman enamel. Around the knop in the centre 
of the stem are the same number of statuettes of 
Dominican saints, wrought in silver, and under 
canopies. The reliquary superimposed is also a 
hexagon, with a double set of silver statuettes, six 
to each row, allegorical figures below, and angels 
with musical instruments above, after the designs 
of Fra Angelico. Enclosed within a crystal case, 
a much larger angel, with outspread arms, displays 
the sacred girdle, now grown brown with age, which 
is held in place by rings and threads of silver. A 
figure of the Angelic Doctor, all resplendent in 
gold, stands on high, beneath a pierced tower- 
shaped canopy, which is finally topped by a gold 
cross. 

Meanwhile his superiors and brethren had not 
forgotten him as the months grew into a year, and 
beyond. Father John of St. Julien contrived to 
visit him several times, and supplied him with 
another religious habit of the Order, which so 
offended Count Landulf that he held him in dur- 
ance for some days. Books too were gradually 
supplied to relieve the tedium of imprisonment; 



30 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

this was done through his sister's good offices : the 
works supplied were carefully committed to mem- 
ory ; these were Aristotle's " Metaphysics," the 
"Sentences" of Peter Lombard, and portions of 
the Sacred Scriptures. The Friars Preachers lodged 
complaints with Pope Innocent IV and the Em- 
peror Frederick against such unjust privation of 
liberty, each of whom sent stringent orders for his 
release. The pride of the soldier sons was roused 
at such commands, nor would they comply, but 
consented to connive at his escape. Like a second 
Paul, he was let down from a window in a basket 
into the arms of brethren who conducted him to 
Naples, " their hearts leaping with joy ,at having 
recovered their Joseph, who was endowed with the 
spirit of understanding like Jacob's son " (Tocco). 
He had endured a close and painful imprisonment 
for about eighteen months, so now, after a short pro- 
bation in the cloister, he was admitted to solemn 
vows in January, I245, 1 making profession into the 
hands of the same Prior who had clothed him in 
the habit of St. Dominic.^ 

Having conquered 'world and flesh, the holy 
youth had yet to vanquish the devil. Even earnest 
Christians are at times unconsciously obsessed by 
the lying spirit : deceived themselves, they labour 
to mislead others. So was it now, when ' ' the 
father of lies" spoke by many mouths to "the 

1 Acta S.S. Mar. vn. 710; Tocco n. 12. 

2 The Prior, Thomas d'Agni di Lentino, subsequently 
became Patriarch of Jerusalem, 




Photo. Aliiiari 

" ST. THOMAS AS JUSTICE." ROOF-MEDALLION FROM 

ORCAGNA'S "TRIUMPH OF ST. THOMAS," IN THE 

STROZZI CHAPEL, CHURCH OF SANTA MARIA NOVELLA, 

FLORENCE. 



VOCATION AND TRIALS. 21 

Father of the faithful ". Appeals and complaints 
were addressed to Pope Innocent, calling upon 
him to annul the profession just made. Some 
urged the impropriety of a prince turning mendi- 
cant, since he was a possible heir to the titles and 
estates : in fact he did survive his elder brothers. 
Others again alleged defect of liberty in the novice ; 
while not a few of his kinsmen pleaded nullity from 
the ignorance of a youth who did not know the 
world he had forsaken, nor realize the sacrifice he 
had made. At the word of obedience, Thomas 
presented himself before the Holy Father in Rome, 
and vanquished Satan by outspoken truthfulness. 
The Pontiff examined carefully the novice's mo- 
tives in choosing the life and in making profession, 
listened tenderly to the story of his vocation, and 
ratified all that he had done. 1 

1 The idle story of his having been a Benedictine monk 
for over twelve years, first came up in the early eighteenth 
century, and has again been served up in our own days. 
Such was the contention of an anonymous brochure issued 
in 1724, professing to be printed in Lyons, but in fact 
printed in Venice : " De monachatu Benedictino Divi 
Thornae Aquinatis ". In it his birth is antedated by five 
years, to 16 April, 1220. It was promptly refuted by 
another publication entitled, " De Fabula monachatus 
Benedictini Divi Thornae Aquinatis," issued in the same 
year at Venice. The only foundation for the fable was the 
testimony of Bartholomew of Capua, Protonotary and 
Chancellor of Sicily, in his deposition for the saint's 
canonization. His actual words are these: "His father 
presented the said friar Thomas to the monastery when 
quite a child, with the idea of his being one day raised to 



22 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

Baring his very soul to Pope Innocent, he 
pleaded his cause with candour : while blaming 
no one, he declared his whole ambition was ab- 
sorbed in a vocation to renounce all worldly ad- 
vantages, so as to serve God and the cause of 
Truth by becoming a Friar Preacher. On this 
point he was unbending : so the Holy Father dis- 
missed him with a blessing, and forbade any further 
attempts to be made to hinder him from following 
his manifest vocation. 

After the threefold storm came a lull, a great 
calm. Out of the fullness of the heart the tongue 
grows eloquent : so now from overflowing piety he 
composed and ever after used this prayer : 

"Lord Jesus Christ, I pray that the fiery and 
honey-sweet power of Thy love may detach my 
soul from everything under heaven, so that I may 
die from love of Thy love, Who, out of love for 
mine, did'st die upon the tree of the Cross. 
Amen." 

Thus, in the opening days of a gracious life, 
" he shone as the morning star in the midst of 
a cloud" (Ecclus. L. 6). 

the government of the Abbey ". When the Pope actually 
offered him the rank in mature years, even retaining his 
Dominican habit, St. Thomas would not hear of it. 



PART II : NOON. 

CHAPTER III. 
HIS STUDIES AT COLOGNE AND PARIS. 

THE Master-General at this time was the Venerable 
John of Wildeshausen, formerly a missionary, and 
Bishop of Bosnia. Knowing well the worth and 
rare abilities of his subject, he resolved on giving 
him the best opportunities for developing his 
singular powers. The first step was to remove him 
far from the importunities and distractions of home. 
The school presided over by Albertus Magnus in 
Cologne being in his judgment the best suited for 
the purpose, the holy man set out from Rome with 
Br. Thomas, in October, 1245. But since busi- 
ness of the order required the Father- General's 
presence in Paris, they proceeded thither on foot, 
carrying nothing but a satchel and a breviary. 
In those days of faith it was a familiar scene to pass 
Churchmen of every degree upon the road ; now 
bishops and abbots, mounted on well -caparisoned 
horses, and with a retinue of retainers ; now the 
beneficed clergy riding in company, or with the 
stout burgesses, and a few men at arms for pro- 
33 



24 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

tection ; or else it might be the more modest com- 
pany of monks and friars and pilgrims, all afoot, 
and even the veiled minchins on palfreys. The 
travellers sped on commonly like two streams in 
their channels, going to or else returning from the 
threshold of the holy Apostles in Rome. But 
apart from this throng, it was of daily occurrence 
to see the hooded friars of various orders wending 
their way in couples or trios apart, and ever on foot, 
across the Alps to the greater schools on either side 
of the mountains, or journeying afar to attend 
General Chapters. There was a constant move- 
ment going on over those rough roads which were 
the arteries of European life, and across many a 
river and mountain. 

Fr. John of Wildeshausen and Br. Thomas 
Aquinas, stooping age and vigorous youth, thought 
lightly of a journey afoot extending over 1500 
miles. They set out each morning and walked a 
good space, now conversing familiarly, now recit- 
ing the breviary or in silent meditation, until by 
some running brook they opened their wallets for 
the mid-day repast. At sunset they sought for 
lodging in some religious establishment, or hospice, 
or else under the roof of God-fearing folk. Such 
had been St. Dominic's manner of travelling, and 
that of all the mediaeval saints, and now from this 
first experience St. Thomas grew familiar with it. 
It was a weary task at the outset, until the traveller 
came to be inured; but the free play of the 
muscles supplies a vigour and freshness unknown 



HIS STUDIES AT COLOGNE AND PARIS. 25 

to them who lag at home. But at the same time 
men's sense of Christian hospitality was more uni- 
versal than in our day, and no one wearing the 
livery of Christ was ever turned from a Christian 
door: true enough, beds were often lacking, but 
then there was the fragrant hay in the cottar's loft, 
and the lowing of the cattle at night was a re- 
minder of Bethlehem. In this fashion the aged 
bishop and his son in Christ plodded on across the 
rainy plains of Lombardy in sad November, crossed 
the biting Alpine passes in December, and, follow- 
ing the Valley of the Rhone, pressed northwards 
towards Paris. Their brief halt in the French 
capital was spent in the great Priory of St. Jacques* 
amidst their brethren. Once more they set out 
with wallet and staff, through Brabant, past Lou- 
vain and Aachen, until they reached the ancient 
city of Cologne on the Rhine, in January 1246. 
The Dominican Schools of Philosophy and Theology 
were founded therein by the German friars in the 
year 1222. This ancient foundation, dedicated to 
St. Mary Magdalene, consisting of an extensive 
priory and church, stood in the Stolkgasse, hard by 
the cathedral. It had risen into public as well as 
domestic eminence owing to the teaching of that 
prodigiously learned man, Albertus Magnus. He ! 
belonged to the noble family of Bollstadt, from 
Lavingen, in Bavarian Swabia ; during ten years he 
had studied at Padua, and won his first spurs as a 
keen dialectician, before taking the Dominican 
habit. Blessed Jordon of Saxony, the Master-N 



26 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

General at the time, completely captivated him by 
his masterful eloquence and holiness, received his 
vows by St. Dominic's tomb in Bologna, and left 
him there to complete the higher studies. Return- 
ing home to Germany, he acquired such a reputa- 
tion for learning, notably in physical science, that 
his contemporaries styled him " Albert the Great, 
the Universal Doctor" and posterity has confirmed 
the verdict. 1 The Belgian Chronicle has inscribed 
his name in its Annals with this just encomium : 
" Great in Magic, 2 greater in Philosophy, greatest 
in Divinity ". His published works in twenty-seven 
folio volumes reveal his vast breadth of research, as 
well as the depth of his acumen. Such was the 
man marked out by God's Providence to be the 
master of " The Angel of the Schools ". Albert was 
in his fifty-second year, and Thomas just 20 
years old, when first they met : little did either of 
them suppose that the younger would eclipse the 
elder, as the sunset in glory veils the star. All 
notions of Albert having ever been mentally slow, 
or styled "the dull Swabian novice,'* must be rele- 
gated to the pages of idle romance, for they are 
utterly void of foundation. 

St. Thomas entered trie schools of Albert, as a 
gem to be cut by a cunning hand, but the fluent 
genius in the rostrum utterly failed to comprehend 
him : the truer genius seated below was pro- 

^His marble effigy graces the Prince Consort Memorial 
in London. 

2 That is, in Physics. 



HIS STUDIES AT COLOGNE AND PARIS. 27 

nounced to be a dullard. Among his fellow stu- 
dents Thomas passed for a slow wit, however much 
impressed they might be by his retirement and 
application. Even Albert shared in the verdict, 
until he received a rude awakening. Yet this 
was the youth of whom .Rodolph in his " Life of 
Albertus Magnus " gives the just estimate in im- 
passioned phrase : " Thomas hastened to Cologne 
with the ardour of a thirsty stag which runs to 
a fountain of pure water, there to receive from 
Albert's hand the life-giving cup of wisdom, and to 
slake therein the thirst which consumed him ". 
Among those novice-students, Germans, Italians, 
French, were youths who afterwards shone in the 
Church and in Universities as saints, cardinals, pre- 
lates, and professors : such were Ambrose of Sienna, 
Ulrich of Engelbrecht, Thomas de Cantimpre, and 
many more. Modesty in expressing an opinion, 
the attitude of rapt attention as a listener, in the 
tall Neapolitan brother, above all, his profound 
humility in shunning display, all led up to the com- 
mon verdict that Thomas was stupid, so a name 
was speedily found for him : it was " the dumb 
Sicilian ox ". With them learning meant wrang- 
ling : with St. Thomas it was all thought. When 
asked later on in life why he had been silent so 
long at Cologne, he replied : " It was because I 
had not yet learned to speak before such a mind as 
Albert ". 

A novice more charitable than his fellows offered 
one day to help him in preparing the morrow's 
3 



28 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

lesson. The saint gratefully accepted the assist- 
ance ; but when the would-be instructor got hope- 
lessly involved in the argument Thomas came to 
his assistance and unravelled the tangle quite easily. 
Some time after this Albert invited the scholars to 
give him their views upon an obscure passage in 
a book of itself obscure, the " Book of the Divine 
Names," a fifth century work, but then uncritically 
ascribed to Denis the Areopagite. The outwitted 
brother, who had floundered so helplessly in assist- 
ing Br. Thomas, now asked him to write down his 
solution ; this he did in candid simplicity. The 
paper was delivered into Albert's hands, who at 
once recognized the impress of a master mind, 
so straightway he set him up at the lector's 
desk to defend certain knotty questions which were 
subjects of discussion at the time. Thomas ex- 
plained the matter with such surprising clearness 
and force that his auditory was amazed. Nor did he 
handle with less skill the intricate objections raised 
by the Bachelor, as he cut his way through with 
keen distinctions. The objector then interposed 
sharply : " You seem to forget that you are not a 
master, to decide, but a disciple to learn how to 
answer arguments raised ". Then came the simple 
rejoinder : " I don't see any other way of answering 
the difficulty ". Albert now interposed : " Very 
well then, continue according to your method, but 
remember that I have my objections to make " ; 
whereupon he plied him with retorts, axioms trans- 
gressed, and sub-divisions of sub-distinctions, but 



HIS STUDIES AT COLOGNE AND PARIS. 29 

Thomas never faltered for an instant. To each 
thrust of argument advanced he had a ready parry 
of a distinction, or of argument retorted in its ut- 
most conclusions, for he was a swordsman of the 
tongue, a very giant of dialectics. Albert could re- 
strain himself no longer. " You call him ' a dumb 
ox,' but I declare before you that he will yet bellow 
so loud in doctrine that his voice will resound 
through the whole world." He procured a cell for 
him next to his own, allowed him to avail himself 
of the results of his own laborious researches, and 
made him the companion of his walks. 

The lesson was not lost upon the students, who, 
while admiring his genius, still continued to twit 
him with his simplicity. One day a novice observ- 
ing him as he stood by the open window, called 
out : " Look, look, there is an ox flying over the 
convent ". Thomas leant forth and gazed up, to 
be greeted with laughter of derision ; but the tor- 
mentor quailed before the rejoinder : " I was not so 
simple as to believe that an ox could fly, but I 
never imagined that a religious man could stoop to 
falsehood ". Many years afterwards a similar jest 
drew forth the same rebuke, when asked " Could 
you have believed that a fish could climb a tree ? " 
St. Thomas was always extremely simple, but it was 
the simplicity of the Gospel. At this early period 
he launched forth on his first work, which was a 
commentary on the Ethics of Aristotle. 

Six months were the limit of his first stay in 
Cologne. The General Chapter of the order met 
3* 



3 o ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

there at Pentecost decided to send Albert and 
Thomas to Paris, the master to occupy a chair in 
the University, which was then the foremost in the 
world, the disciple to continue his studies under the 
best possible advantages. The progress of this 
scholar cannot be set forth better than in his own 
axiom inculcated in the " Summa Theologica " : 
" Whatever is received by any subject is grasped 
according to the subject's capacity ". And his was a 
genius which already bid fair to overtop Albertus 
Magnus. 

During the month of August three Friars 
Preachers might be seen journeying afoot from 
the Rhine to the Seine : they were the Father- 
General, the master, the disciple : the Venerable 
John, Blessed Albert, St. Thomas. Once arrived 
in Paris, master and disciple resumed their places in 
the Dominican schools, which were affiliated to the 
University. Albert's reputation having preceded 
him, he drew a vast concourse of students to his lec- 
tures ; in time the assembly grew to be so vast that 
no hall could accommodate the auditory, until by 
compulsion he had to lecture in the open square. 
Master Albert was outpaced in holiness and in 
learning by his meteor disciple ; but the Church 
has beatified him, the world has acclaimed him as 
the " Universal Doctor" who knew all that was to 
be known. Daily on his knees he recited the entire 
Psalter. His eminent piety has been attested to by 
many, but let one witness suffice : it is the testi- 
mony of hi cfeciple, Cardinal Thomas of Can- 



HIS STUDIES AT COLOGNE AND PARIS. 31 

timpre : " After this ought it to astonish us that 
Albert should be endowed with superhuman know- 
ledge, and that his word should enflame the heart 
more than that of other masters ? We know now 
from what source those transports of love proceeded, 
which we see so frequently break out in his nume- 
rous writings." All the world owes him homage, 
because he trained the soul as well as the mind of 
St. Thomas. 

Whether the master commented, or examined in 
the cloister school or elsewhere, Thomas was always 
present, forming himself on the great model. At 
this time he was engrossed in studying Aristotle's 
Metaphysics, the " Sacra Pagina," or Holy Scrip- 
tures, and Patrology, for these entered into the 
normal course of every scholastic ; in his hours of 
privacy in the cell he set himself to read and retain 
in memory the voluminous writings of St. Augus- 
tine, the most learned of the doctors. To Thomas 
the mind of Augustine was the mind of the Catholic 
Church ; upon him he based his opinions ; his 
authority was final. Posterity is indebted to St. 
Thomas for a benefit so little known and recog- 
nized ; after assimilating St. Augustine's works, 
which usually extend to forty volumes in octavo, 
he recast them in the terse and accurate speech of 
the Schoolmen. 

Patrology is sacred science in its least scientific 
presentment. The Holy Fathers had none of the 
conciseness in form, none of the preciseness in ter- 
minology, which characterizes the thirteenth century 



32 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

Schoolmen ; they wrote with a fullness of diction 
and laxity of expression which is often tedious and 
sometimes misleading. The great Augustine is a 
river whose fullness of waters gladdens the city of 
God. The Fathers are the " Fontes? the Authori- ' 
ties, while the Schoolmen are but the Exponents ;. 
the former define doctrine, the latter define form, 
whereas " The Angel of the Schools " does both. 
But it must not be overlooked that St. Thomas had 
the Church's experience of eight centuries from the 
age of St. Augustine, during which interval both 
thought and speech were recast. Here in Paris he 
was the reader, the thinker, the rememberer, but 
still the disciple. To write and talk was reserved 
for maturer days, when the coarse grain now pass- 
ing through the mill of his mind would emerge as 
the refined flour, to make the bread of doctrine. 
What little he wrote was for his own purposes : his 
hour had 1 not yet come. 

Such studious occupations did not cause his 
spirit of piety to relax. How often does the study 
even of Divine things cause the wells to dry up ! It 
is to the student's hurt when the true inner spirit 
gives way before the outer discipline of learning. 
With the Dominicans, the novice remains such 
until priesthood under the vigilant eye and candid 
tongue of a novice master : forward youth, over 
pert of speech, has to be kept under, and wilful 
youth tamed ; indolent nature must be jogged, and 
all show of cleverness put down by timely, yea, 
and untimely, snubbings. St. Thomas had ex- 



HIS STUDIES AT COLOGNE AND PARIS. 33 

perience of it in the novitiate at Paris. One day 
as he was reading aloud at table, the voice of 
reproval rang out sharp, correcting him for a false 
quantity in latinity : now although the error was 
not the novice's but the corrector's, the reader in- 
stantly adopted the amended prosody. When after- 
wards twitted with his want of spirit, he replied : 
" It really matters little how a word is pronounced, I 
but it is of the utmost importance to practise /' 
humility and obedience on every occasion ". 

While in Paris he met among our brethren, the 
Friars Minor, one to whom his soul leaped out in 
friendship: this was the future Seraphic Doctor \ 
St. Bonaventure, a student at the time. For a f 
parallel friendship one must go back to the days 
of David. "And it came to pass ... the soul 
of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and 
Jonathan loved him as his own soul" (i Kings 
xvin. i). Although they had entered religion 
about the same time, Bonaventure was older than 
Thomas by about four years. Their intimacy in 
Paris extended over seven years, that is from 1246 
to 1248, and again from 1252 to 1256. It is 
sometimes stated that St. Thomas sat with his 
friend as a student under Master Alexander de 
Hales : that brilliant man, however, was dead 
before Thomas's arrival. 

After two years spent in the schools of St. 
Jacques, Brother Thomas was raised to the Sub- 
diaconate, and his younger brother, Rayner of 
Aquino, gave himself to the order in Naples. The 



34 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

General Chapter which met in Paris in this year 
confirmed the Ordinances made in the two previous 
chapters, and erected four new formal colleges for 
the higher studies in other University centres : 
Oxford for England, Bologna for Northern Italy, 
Cologne for Germany, and Montpellier for Pro- 
vence. Master Albert was now designated Regent 
for Cologne, with Thomas for Bachelor ; so once 
more they wended their way to the Rhine, while 
Brother Thomas carried in his sack Aristotle's 
writings and the Sentences of Peter Lombard. 
On the road they halted at Louvain in Brabant, 
passing some days in the priory and church of 
Notre Dame aux Dominicains, on the Dyle : a relic 
of this visit is still reverently treasured in the new 
foundation there, the restored "Studium Gene- 
rale"; it is the upper portion of the "pupitre," 
or lectern, from which St. Thomas sang the 
epistle. 

As Bachelor he had charge of all the students : 
it was his task to supervise their plan of study, 
correct their essays, object severely in the daily 
defensions, read iwith them in camera. As a pro- 
fessor he began some daily lectures -on Philosophy 
and the Sacred Scriptures, which were not restricted 
to his fellow religious, but were addressed to a great 
concourse of clerics as well. It may not be out of 
place to give his letter of golden advice addressed 
to a student, premising that it is not admitted as 
genuine by some critics : 



HIS STUDIES AT COLOGNE AND PARIS. 35 
"MY VERY DEAR (BROTHER). 

" Since you have asked me how you ought 
to study in order to amass the treasures of know- 
ledge, listen to the advice which I am going to 
give you. 

"As a mere stripling, advance up the streams, 
and do not all at once plunge into the deep : such 
is my caution, and your lesson. I bid you to be 
chary of speech, slower still in frequenting places 
of talk : embrace purity of conscience, pray un- 
ceasingly, love to keep to your cell if you wish to 
be admitted into the mystic wine-cellar. Show 
yourself genial to all : pay no heed to other folk's 
affairs : be not over-familiar with any person, be- 
cause over-much familiarity breeds contempt, and 
gives occasion to distraction from study. 

" On no account mix yourself up with the sayings 
and the doings of persons in the outside world. Most 
of all, avoid all useless visits, but try rather to walk 
constantly in the footsteps of good and holy men. 
Never mind from whom the lesson drops, but 
commit to memory whatever useful advice may be 
uttered. Give an account to yourself of your every 
word and action .' see that you understand what you 
hear, and never leave a doubt unsolved : lay up all 
you can in the storehouse of memory, as he does 
who wants to fill a vase. 'Seek not the things 
which are beyond thee'. 

" Following these ways, you will your whole life 
long put forth and bear both branches and fruit in 



36 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

the vineyard of the Lord of Sabaoth. If you take 
these words to heart, you will attain your desire." 

This letter is unquestionably the reflex of his 
own rule of conduct. No one could be more 
affable, more courteous, yet at the same time it was 
a principle with him to shun all needless visits ; the 
world might come to him, but he would not go out 
to it. As the time drew near for him to be raised 
to the sacred priesthood, he gave himself over to 
more protracted prayer and watchings. Several 
hours of the day, as well as part of the night, were 
spent in attitude of adoration before the altar, often 
sighing and weeping audibly as his soul melted with 
devotion ; the heat of love within was manifest 
on the glowing countenance. At early morn the 
brethren frequently found him like the angel guard- 
ing the sepulchre. The Archbishop of Cologne 
raised him to the diaconate, and subsequently to 
the priesthood. The prelate who had the privilege 
of consecrating his holy hands was Conrad of Hoch- 
staden, the princely and munificent Archbishop 
who rebuilt the choir of the old Romanesque 
Cathedral. The ordination took place in the year 
1250. His attitude in celebrating the Divine mys- 
teries upon the altar was one of majesty, and of 
rapt devotion. William de Tocco, his pupil and 
first biographer, describes what he was privileged 
to witness daily : " When he consecrated in mass, 
he was seized with such intensity of devotion as 
to be dissolved in tears, utterly absorbed in its 
mysteries, and nourished with its fruits ". 



HIS STUDIES AT COLOGNE AND PARIS. 37 

This year of gladness for him was one of dire 
disaster for his family. His brothers left the service 
of the Emperor Frederick II in consequence of his 
hostility to the Pope, and took up arms in defence 
of the Holy See. The enraged monarch thereupon 
besieged Rocca Secca Castle, and all but demolished 
it, put Raynald of Aquino to death, while the elder 
brother, Landulf, who was now head of the family, 
fell fighting in the cause of the Church. The 
Countess Theodora, stricken with grief and years, 
was forced into voluntary exile with her dependents, 
and died soon after in sentiments of great piety. 
St. Thomas heard of the ruin of his home and 
family with his wonted calm, humbly accepting 
God's inscrutable and adorable will. 

All knowledge is aptly distinguished into two 
classes, which form the divisions of the holy doc- 
tor's writings. The distinction is his own : " The 
knowledge of Divine things is termed Wisdom, 
whereas the knowledge of human things is called 
Science ". His life henceforth may be generally 
classified into two periods, each of twelve years ; 
as an expository writer he now started his scien- 
tific period, which was in 1262 commuted for the 
sapiential. 

During this time at Cologne he composed his 
first Opuscula, or lesser works. These were first 
of all Aristotelian : first in order was the treatise 
" On Being and Essence," then another on " The 
Principles of Nature " ; for his theological course 
he wrote a " Commentary on the Sacred Scriptures," 



38 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

also a " Commentary on the Sentences of Peter 
Lombard ". At the instance of Adelaide Duchess 
of Brabant he drew up and sent her a treatise " On 
the Government of the Jews," for it was a thorny 
question of the day, as to how the Jews ought to be 
treated by Christian rulers. 

From the day of his ordination the scholar came 
forth as the preacher. In the churches of Cologne 
and Bonn St. Thomas poured out his thoughts in 
rich German speech to delighted auditories ; he 
was no utterer of platitudes or profundities, but an 
orator who spoke to the heart and held men under 
the spell of his sonorous eloquence. The great 
German awakening to liberty, and letters, and 
national prosperity, dated from 1250; their feu- 
dalism ended then, and a religious-minded people 
thought and wrote for the first time no longer in 
Latinity but in their own vigorous tongue. St. 
Thomas caught the public ear by his well-reasoned 
doctrinal sermons, which were listened to by Jews 
and Christians alike. To quote from de Tocco 
once more : " He was heard by the people as if 
his discourse came from God ". " A wholesome 
tongue is a tree of life," as we read in Proverbs 
xv. 4. We have grown so used to think of him as 
the theologian teaching and writing that we are apt 
to lose sight of the apostolic side of his life. Not 
less an apostle in zeal than St. Dominic, he never 
let an occasion of preaching go by ; where hun- 
dreds heard him in the schools, thousands hung 
on his lips in the churches of Italy, France, and 



HE GRADUATES AS DOCTOR. 39 

Germany, for this versatile man could say with St. 
Paul : " I give thanks to my God, for that I speak 
in all your tongues " (i Cor. xiv. 18). 

CHAPTER IV. 
HE GRADUATES AS DOCTOR. 

GREAT was the satisfaction of the scholars in Paris, 
greater the joy of the brethren, when Thomas was 
recalled thither as licentiate in 1252, with a view 
to taking the doctorate. The holy friendship with 
Bonaventure was resumed, and deepened. One 
day he found his friend engaged in writing the life 
of St. Francis of Assisi : loath to disturb him in his 
devout task, he stole quietly away from the cell, 
saying to his companion, "Let us leave a saint to 
write about a saint ". 

It was now a period of conflict between the city 
and the University, owing to the slaying of a 
student, coupled with the wounding and arrest of 
three more, perpetrated by the city guard. Since 
satisfaction was not forthcoming, the doctors closed 
their schools : but the Dominican and Franciscan 
professors continued to lecture as usual, having no 
interest in the dispute. Such a proceeding gave 
offence, so the University authorities passed a new 
statute, that for the future no one should be ad- 
mitted to the degree of Doctor in Theology unless 
he swore to observe all the statutes, especially the 
one just formulated. This simply meant that on 
every occasion of a dispute between themselves and 



40 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

the city, all lectures must cease until the matter 
was settled. The Mendicant Orders stood out, and 
refused to be so restricted. Why should sober- 
minded men be reduced to silence by reason of the 
night escapades of these young bloods ! The dis- 
agreement lasted for over three years, while the 
saintly friends kept their souls in peace, studying, 
praying, and lecturing, as if there were no such 
entities as doctors and proctors and city-bailiffs. 
But when Friar Thomas Aquinas was duly pre- 
sented by the Prior and Regent to stand for his 
degree, he was curtly set aside and the petition 
refused. Feeling ran so high that he and Bona- 
venture were driven out of the schools with kicks 
and hisses : such was the secularism of the age. 
Pope Alexander IV sent a Brief ordering the Uni- 
versity to admit him to the doctorate : the Senate 
steadily refused to obey the mandate. Matters 
stood at a deadlock, the outlook was becoming 
serious, as the students forsook Paris for Oxford, 
not in units but in shoals, while Thomas lectured 
to the shrunken auditory of his brethren only. 

During this time, which was as peaceful to him as 
it was distracting to others, he composed and issued 
treatises " On Man," " On Eternity," " OnThought," 
" The Movement of the Heart," " Thirty-six Articles 
in Reply to a Professor of Venice," " Explanation of 
Two Decretals of Pope Innocent III," written for 
the Archdeacon of Trent. The following, which 
have been attributed to him, must however be con- 
sidered as apocryphal: " Of Fate," "The Powers 



HE GRADUATES AS DOCTOR. 41 

or the Soul," " The Difference between God's Word 
and Man's Word," "The Essence and Dimensions 
of Matter". 

There came a lull in the storm early in 1256, 
since the Pope wrote to the Chancellor on 4 May, 
congratulating him on permitting Friar Thomas 
Aquinas to teach once more in public ; but the 
spirit of rancour was still abroad. As he was 
preaching in St. Jacques' Church on Palm Sunday, 
one of the University proctors, Guillot by name, 
marched in and stopped his discourse, after which 
he read aloud a letter from William de St. Amour 
and the other doctors, full of acrimony against the 
Mendicant Friars and the preacher in particular. 
Thomas kept silent throughout, then calmly re- 
sumed his sermon. This William de St. Amour, a 
name of ill-omened fame, had just completed a 
work against the Mendicant Orders, entitled, "The 
Perils of the Last Times ". This was the gage of 
battle thrown down by the doctors of Paris Uni-/ 
versity. The French episcopate spoke out against 
the infamous book, but coming as it did from such 
high authority, the students and people accepted 
its lying statements. At the instance of the King, 
St. Louis IX, the Pope summoned both parties to 
appear before him. The gage of battle thus reck- 
lessly thrown down was taken up by Thomas and 
Bonaventure, while a commission of doctors repre- 
sented the University : it was question now, not of 
privilege, but of the very right of existence for 
religious men. 



42 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS, 

Thomas proceeded straight to Rome on the sum- 
mons of the Master General, Humbert de Romans, 
who put the book into his hands to read and refute. 
Against it he wrote his famous treatise, entitled, 
" An Apology for the Religious Orders," basing it 
upon the opening words of Psalm LXXXII. : "O- 
God, who shall be like unto Thee ? Hold not Thy 
peace, neither be Thou still, O God. For lo, Thine 
enemies have made a noise : and they that hate 
Thee have lifted up their head." He pronounced a 
discourse before the General Chapter, in which he 
broke out as follows : " Have no fear, my brethren, 
for I have examined it, and find it to be captious, 
perfidious, and erroneous ". The mendicant apolo- 
gists were Albert and Thomas on behalf of the 
Friars Preachers, Bonaventure and another on be- 
half of the Friars Minor, besides other friars from 
both orders ; all appeared before Pope Alexander 
IV in Anagni Cathedral, and read their confuta- 
tions ; as was to be expected, this silly and most 
murderous work in its intent was condemned on 
5 October, 1256. The apologies read that day 
deserve the eternal gratitude of all the religious 
orders : Paris reeled again under the blow smitten 
by the hands of the Universal, the Seraphic, the 
Angelic doctors, who vindicated the rights of holy 
poverty. 

During this stay in Italy, St. Thomas confuted 
another work of impiety and false mysticism, en- 
titled "The Eternal Gospel". In November he 
returned with Master Albert by sea. to Marseilles. 



HE GRADUATES AS DOCTOR. 43 

During \ the early part of the voyage the weather 
seemed promising : soon, however, a wild tempest 
arose, which created panic in every breast but their 
own. Like another Paul, the saint prayed, the lives 
of the travellers and mariners were granted to his 
prayers, and all reached the port in safety. 

Eleven Papal Briefs were sent out before the 
Angel of the Schools was admitted to his degree in 
October, 1257, in his thirty-third year. When the 
time came his humility took alarm : vainly he 
pleaded his unworthiness of such a dignity, or 
that there were other brethren, his seniors, who 
were more deserving of the doctorate. It required 
the voice of a formal obedience to get him to 
acquiesce, and this made him sad of heart. 

During the night preceding the academic Act 
he was on his knees reciting the sixty-eighth Psalm, 
seeking comfort from heaven. "Save me, O God," 
cried he, " for the waters are come in, even to my 
soul! " then sleep overcame him, and he had this 
vision : before him stood a religious of mature 
years, wearing the habit of the order, who ac- 
costed him in gentle tones : " Why are you be- 
seeching God thus earnestly, and in tears? " Then 
Thomas answered him with all his natural sin- 
cerity : " It is on account of the burden of the 
doctorate, for which my knowledge is insufficient, 
likewise because I do not know which text to se- 
lect as the burden of my discourse ". Then the 
heavenly visitor continued: "Behold thou art 
heard. Take the burden of the doctorate upon 
4 



44 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

thee, since God is with thee : choose for thy sub- 
ject this text, and all will go well with thee : ' Thou 
waterest the hills from Thy chambers above: the 
earth shall be filled with the fruits of Thy works ' " 
(Ps. cm. 13). Then he awoke and returned thanks 
to God. Who else can the heavenly instructor 
have been but the Apostolic Patriarch St. Dominic 
s himself? 

Early in the morning of the eventful day Thomas 
awoke with swollen cheek, and scarce able to speak 
from pangs of toothache ; so he hied him -to the 
cell of his friend Father Reginald for counsel in his 
misery. Reginald stood dumb with amazement at 
the mishap. Did he suggest some old-time remedy ? 
Very likely he did, but Thomas hit upon a speedier 
one. Falling on his knees he prayed mutely a while, 
when to the cell floor fell the cause of the trouble, 
the tooth with its biting fangs. 

It was on 23 October, 1257, that St. Thomas pro- 
nounced his oration in the hall of the Archbishop's 
palace, based on the text revealed to him : " Thou 
waterest the hills from Thy chambers above : the earth 
shall be filled with the fruits of Thy works ". His 
theme was " The Majesty of Christ" and he spoke 
as one inspired, before a hushed assembly. It was 
as a scene rehearsed from the Book of Job (xxix.) : 
" The young men saw me, and hid themselves : the 
elders rose up and stood. The rulers ceased to 
speak, and laid their ringer on their mouth." He 
applied his text to our Lord, who is King over 
angels and men alike. Christ from His throne of 



HIS SYSTEM AND METHOD OF STUDY. 45 

majesty waters the mountains, which are the 
heavenly spirits, the sublime intelligences, with the 
torrents of His glory and light. He fills the Earth, 
that is to say, the Church upon earth, with the fruits 
of His works, through the Sacraments, which are the 
channels whereby He communicates to men the 
fruits of His Passion. After the oration he was 
solemnly received with cap and ring as a Doctor of 
Paris. There is an old tradition to the effect that 
St. Bonaventure was promoted on the same day. 
Some critics deny the fact, 1 but what tradition is 
there which has not been gainsaid ! On this occasion 
arose the only contention they ever had together. 
Each from humility wished the other to take prece- 
dence, until Thomas gave way as being the younger. 

CHAPTER V. 

HIS WRITINGS ; FIRST PERIOD : HIS SYSTEM 
AND METHOD OF STUDY. 

" Post honores, labores" " To honours succeed la- 
bours ". 

LIKE some well-laden tree, Thomasj moved by the 
.Spirit of Truth from on high, dropped the ripe fruits 
of learning. St. Raymund of Pennafort, known 
in history as " The Master of the Decretals, " after 
resigning the rank of Master General of the Order of 
Preachers, retired to Spain, where he exercised his 
zeal in the conversion of the Jews and Moors. 

1 " Acta S.S.," Tom. xxx. p. 809. 
4* 



46 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

What he needed most was a philosophic exposition 
of Christian belief, to combat Arabian thought. 
Aware of the newly risen star, he besought Father 
Thomas in Paris to undertake the task. Writing 
is preaching, when the pen is dipped in grace, and 
is ever more enduring. So the holy Doctor re- 
sponded to the appeal by commencing his first 
monumental work, the w Summa Contra Gentiles/' 
or, " The Sum of the Truth of Catholic Faith against 
the Gentiles "- 1 Set forth in four books, it contains 
a complete demonstration of Christian Truth against 
false philosophies, demonstrating absolutely that 
the dogmas of Christianity can never be op- 
posed to right reason* Its success was immense, 
and soon it was rendered out of Latin into 
Greek, Syriac, and Hebrew, in order to be more 
accessible to those against whose errors it was 
composed. In European schools from 1261 it be- 
came a text-book of the philosophy of religion. 
Next followed the mixed writings known as the 
" Quodlibets," a collection in 160 Articles of 
questions proposed with their solutions : some of 
these questions were profound, others trivial, but all 
throw a side-light on the scholastic subtilties of his 
day. After this he put forth the opusculum of 104 
articles upon "Truth," this he followed up by the 
" Compendium of Theology ". The masterly collec- 
tion known as the " Questiones Disputatse " was 
not written in any precise year : it is a compilation 

1 The exact date of completion of the " Summa Contra 
Gentiles " appears to be 1261 (Ptol. Lucca, L, xxn, C. 23). 



HIS SYSTEM AND METHOD OF STUDY. 47 

made in 400 articles, comprising his answers to dis- 
cussions arising out of his lectures, and extending 
over twenty years. In his elaborated Commentary 
on the Book of Job, he draws out admirably the 
argument of God's Providence governing the world. 
The real presence of Christ in the Sacrament of the 
Eucharist is a doctrine which cannot be denied with- 
out making shipwreck of the faith. By the term 
real is meant an objective, substantial, abiding \ 
presence : it proclaims the living Christ to be truly I 
in the Sacrament, " Secundum rei Veritatem ". This ' 
doctrine is the very touchstone of Catholic belief, 
the centre of Catholic devotion. But in the age of 
St. Thomas, while all professed this faith, there were 
conflicting opinions as to the manner of such pres- 
ence. The Doctors of Paris were especially full of 
this question, and now, after many fruitless disputes, 
resolved to refer the matter to the Angelic Doctor, 
since with him,to seize upon a difficulty was to unravel 
it. For a time he withdrew to the solitude of his 
cell to give himself up to prayer, then, under the 
dictation of the Holy Spirit, he wrote a treatise, " Of 
Substance and Accidents in the Eucharist," 1 which 
he afterwards so pithily expressed in the '* Lauda 
Sion ". 

Here beneath these signs are hidden 
Priceless things to sense forbidden ; 
Signs, not things, are all we see. 

1 The extant tractate is declared apocryphal by Pere Man- 
donnet, O.P. Des Merits authentiques de St. Thomas 
d'Aquin Fribourg, 1910, p. 97. 



48 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

After finishing the work he retired to the church, 
where he placed it upon the altar, and thus ad- 
dressed the crucifix : " Lord Jesus Christ, Who art 
really present and workest wonders in this Sacra- 
ment, I humbly beg of Thee, that if what I have 
written of Thee be true, Thou wilt say so : but if I 
have written aught which is not conformable to the 
faith, or contrary to this holy mystery, be pleased 
/ to hinder me from proceeding farther ". Fr. Regi- 
nald of Piperno and others who had followed him 

I saw our Blessed Lord appear, standing on the manu- 
script, and heard Him speak these words of appro- 
bation : " Thou hast written ably of the Sacrament 
of My Body, and hast accurately determined the 
difficulty proposed to thee, in so far as it can be 
understood by man on earth, and be defined by 
human wisdom ". Then the spectators beheld the 

| { holy man uplifted miraculously from the ground, as 
if drawn heavenwards by the fervour of his devotion. 
From that day the University looked upon him not 
merely as a genius of thought, but as a man sent of 
God. According to the statutes the Master must 
retire on the expiry of one year, and Thomas com- 
plied ; but so keen was the sense of loss, that after 
a few months he was invited to resume his course. 

St. Louis IX, King of France, held his relative 
Thomas Aquinas in the highest esteem, and made 
him a member of his Privy Council for State Affairs. 
It was his wont to inform the holy Doctor the even- 
ing before of all important business to be discussed 
on the morrow, so that he might come prepared to 



HIS SYSTEM AND METHOD OF STUDY. 49 

tender advice. One is not surprised to find these 
years synchronize with the monarch's greatest tem- 
poral glory, opening an epoch of lasting benefit to 
France. He excused himself as often as he could 
with propriety from sitting at the royal table, but 
whether at Council board or supper, he was as 
recollected as in his cell. While sitting at table one 
evening with the King and Queen and guests, he 
was observed to be quite lost in thought. Vainly 
the Prior plucked his sleeve to arouse him, when 
suddenly the goblets and platters jumped from a 
blow of his fist on the trencher, and the sonorous 
voice rang out : " The argument is clinched against 
the Manichees ! " All the while his train of thought 
had been of the heresy of the new Manichees, the , 
Vaudois, and Cathari. The Prior rebuked him for / 
such unseemly conduct, but the gentle Louis only 
smiled, and bade one of his secretaries write down 
the argument hastily, lest it might lose its force and 
clearness. The King furthermore employed him 
and Fr. Vincent de Beauvais, author of " The Three- 
fold Mirror," in arranging the royal library of rare 
manuscripts Often might the spectacle be seen of 
the saintly King sitting as a rapt listener, while the 
great Doctor, now a man of commanding stature 
and build, poured out his eloquence within the 
walls of Notre Dame, or of St. Jacques. A fairer sight 
it was to behold Thomas humbly serving at Mass 
in the conventual church, or making the rough ways 
plain to novices in logic. 

In the General 'Chapter assembled at Valen- 



50 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

ciennes during Pentecost of 1259, he sat on the 
Commission for Studies, together with Masters 
Albert, Vincent de Beauvais, Peter de Tarentaise, 1 
Buonomo, and Florence, all of them Doctors of 
Paris. It was their task to draw up a Norma 
Studiorum, or fixed programme of higher studies, 
to be employed in all colleges of the order ; the 
Ordinances then prescribed may be found in the 
Chapter Acts. 2 From thence he returned to Paris 
for two more years, lecturing and writing as before. 
In the schools his deportment and spirit reminded 
the listeners of the mildness and modesty of Christ ;\2 
never ruffled, never heated in argument, utterly de- 
void of pretence or display, he kept to his childlike 
way of holy simplicity. St. John Chrysostom in his 
"Sixty-second Homily on St. Matthew's Gospel," 
makes this deep observation, and St. Thomas cer- 
tainly lived up to it : " The full measure of philo- 
sophy is to be simple, with prudence : such is an 
angelic life ". Once when he was examining a 
candidate for the Licentiate, the cleric hazarded 
a thesis savouring of unorthodoxy ; Thomas gently 
reproved the line of argument taken, and pointed 
out its fatal consequences, but with rare delicacy. 
When blamed for not at once confuting the error, 
he rejoined : " I did not wish to put him to shame 
before such a distinguished auditory, but to-morrow 

1 Afterwards Pope Innocent V. 

2 " Reichart Acta Capitulorum Generalium," 1898, i. 99 ; 
cf. Denifle " Chartularium," Paris, 1889, I. ft. 385, etc., 
n. 335- 



HIS SYSTEM AND METHOD OF STUDY. 51 

I will convince him of his mistake ". Next day 
came the final defension in the Archbishop's palace, 
when the same opinion was advanced with em- 
boldened insolence. Then the holy Doctor calmly 
objected by accepting the thesis, but with pitiless 
logic forced the candidate to draw out his argument 
to its ultimate conclusions, which he had to admit 
were heretical and untenable. The defendant saw 
his error, withdrew the thesis, and apologized for 
the offensive manner assumed. The saint then ad- 
ministered a correction quite after his own fashion : 
" Ah, now you speak sound doctrine, as a true 
teacher should ". 

How did St. Thomas study? What was his 
method in writing ? We gather it from the lips of 
his inseparable secretary and confessor and confi- 
dant, Fr. Reginald of Piperno. Before studying or 
lecturing he prayed much, distrusting his great 
natural gifts : when writing or dictating he would 
frequently rise and stand a while before the cruci- 
fix : at times he would withdraw to the altar where 
the adorable Sacrament reposed, and, leaning upon 
the altar table, or with head pressed against the 
Tabernacle door, collect his thoughts as he sought 
for light. During the composition of his Apology 
for the Faith, the " Summa Contra Gentiles," he 
was often seen in rapture. The Vatican Library 
contains among its other treasures a genuine auto- 
graph copy, on whose margins he occasionally 
wrote the words " Ave Maria ". 

Genius is twofold : it may be the dower of rare 



52 ST, THOMAS AQUINAS. 

mental parts, but more commonly it is the faculty 
of taking pains over work, the art of constructive- 
ness : and St. Thomas shone in both. He took 
the greatest pains in forecasting his scheme, divid- 
ing and subdividing, after which he built up each 
portion in a separate article. There is an old adage 
in the schools : 

Sanctus Doctor est doctrina simul et disciplina. 
(The Holy Doctor is both doctrine and discipline.) 

From him the scholar can learn science and method. 
" He did all things well," as was said of our Lord. 
Employing both methods, analytic and synthetic, his, 
aim was to construct each work on the basis of a 
vast synthesis. Of course this does not hold good 
of his Commentaries, where the purpose is all critical 
and expository. Nor does it apply to the " Catena 
Aurea," which is simply the stringing together of? 
quotations from the Fathers : but even here one 
marvels at the acumen shown in the fitness of the 
passages culled from each, like a handful from a 
meadow. 

The beauty of his writings lies in four cardinal 
points : Sublimity of thought, Subtilty of argument, 
Simplicity of style, Unction of spirit. Above all 
things he is logical in sequeL No one can presume 
to abridge him without losing the charm of his 
rare diction : wilfully to excise an argument, especi- 
ally one which he calls " a first and more obvious 
one," such as the proof of God's existence drawn 
from motion, is the freedom of a pigmy towards a 
giant. The best model for the Christian apologist 



HIS SYSTEM AND METHOD OF STUDY. 53 

to follow is his "Sum of the Truth of Catholic 
Faith against the Gentiles ". His attitude towards 
the princes of the ancients, Plato and Aristotle, 1 is 
always one of reverence : towards the leaders of the 
Arabian school he is more hostile, since their in- 
fluence threatened to undermine Christian thought : 
hence all his destructive weapons were brought to 
bear upon Avicenna (1037), Avicebron (1070), and 
Averroes (1198). His philosophy is Aristotelian 
throughout, but refined and purified by the light of 
revelation : with all the elevation of Plato, he does 
not disdain at times to use the Socratic method. A 
master of analysis, he furnishes us with many an 
example of clear thought. Take for instance his 
treatise on the Incarnation of our Blessed Lord, 
which he disposes of in fifty-nine questions : it is all 
resumed under four headings : Ingressus, His birth ; 
Progressus, His mission ; Regressus^ His passion and 
death ; Exaltatio, His ascension and headship. 

No one need ever hope to understand St. Thomas 
who is not well grounded in Scholastic Philosophy : 
mere knowledge of latinity will not suffice. The 
student must attend to the holy Doctor's method of 
constructiveness, as exhibited in every article. He 
first submits his proposition : as for instance 
" Whether Grace be a quality of the soul ". Then 
he opens out with arguments to the contrary, vary- 
ing from two to twenty, but commonly three in 

1 For question of the Church's supposed condemnation 
of Aristotle's Philosophy see " Siger de Brabant," by Pierre 
Mandonnet, O.P., Louvain, 1911. 



54 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

number: these objections are drawn either from 
reason or authority, and such authority is either of 
Sacred Scripture, the Fathers, or the Philosophers. 
After apparently demolishing the proposition, he 
opens out his own line of argument by a " Sed 
Contra ", or, "But on the contrary ". In the body 
of the article he constructs the proof by solid argu- 
ments well reasoned out : frequently he adopts the 
historic method, narrating the opinions of past 
schools of thought, and demolishing each as he 
proceeds : finally he lays down the conclusion as 
established by irrefragable argument. All this is 
constructive method : now he passes to the destruc- 
tive. Each objection proposed at the outset is 
weighed, distinguished, dismissed. The Scholastic 
rule of debate is this : " Never admit, seldom deny, 
always distinguish ". All are not Thomists who read 
St. Thomas : Thomism is consistency with the prin- 
ciples and conclusions of the Master. 

Great was the consternation and grief of Paris 
when the newly elected Pontiff, Urban IV, sum- 
moned St. Thomas to Rome. For four years now, 
from 1261 to 1265, he was a stranger to the public 
schools : Universities vainly petitioned for his ser- 
vices, but the Pope would have him close by his 
side. Although never made Master of the Sacred 
Palace, he was set over the school of select scholars, 
and resided with them in the Lateran Palace. Ur- 
ban IV was a promoter of learning, and insisted on 
the staff and students following him in all his jour- 
neys and residences through Italy : thus it came 



HIS SYSTEM AND METHOD OF STUDY. 55 

about that during five years Thomas held his " pre- 
lections," as they were termed, in Rome, Viterbo, 
Fondi, Orvieto, Anagni, Perugia, and Bologna. He 
was now a member of the papal household, a Con- 
suitor of the Holy Father, a teacher of the coming 
princes and bishops of the Church : at the same 
time he gave himself to preaching in these towns, 
to the great profit of souls. The uppermost thought 
in Urban's mind was the reunion of East with West, 
since the Eastern Church was unfortunately severed 
by heresy and schism. The Greek Church had 
stood aloof for ages from the centre of unity, the 
Chair of Peter, in a state of stagnation as to learn- 
ing and sanctity. Christ's prayer for unity wrung 
the PontiiFs soul ; so he opened his mind to the 
Angelic Doctor. The zeal of the one and the learn- 
ing of the other ought surely to- accomplish our 
Lord's desire : " Grant, Father, that they may be one, 
even as Thou and I are one" (St. John, xvn. 22). 
According to St. Thomas, schism is a most grievous 
crime, as destroying the Church's Unity, and setting 
up many folds and shepherds. Figuratively speak- 
ing, the Lord's seamless garment is rent : with such 
a conviction in mind, this loyal son of the Church 
set himself to repair it with the silver threads of 
argument and the golden of charity. At the bid- 
ding of Urban IV he composed a work entitled 
"Against the Errors of the Greeks". The Pope 
sent the book to Michael Paleologus, the eighth 
Emperor of Constantinople : soon it was turned 
into the Greek tongue, and copies multiplied, which 



5 6 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

found their way into many hands. He followed it 
up with another work undertaken at the request of. 
the Precentor of Antioch ; "Against the Errors of the 
Greeks, Armenians, and Saracens ". In this treatise . 
he draws out in masterly fashion the Generation of" 
the Eternal Word, the Procession of the Holy Ghost, 
the motive of the Incarnation, how the faithful re- 
ceive the Body of Christ, Purgatory for expiation, 
the Beatific Vision in heaven, and lastly, how Pre- 
destination imposes no necessity on man's free-will. 
Our saint did not live to see the realization of his 
hopes, but he sowed the good seed which resulted 
in the harvest garnered in at the General Council of 
Florence, when the decree of union was pronounced. 
Quite a year went by from St. Thomas's coming 
to Rome before the Pope removed his Court to' 
Viterbo ; during this interval he interpreted Aristotle 
to the students in the Lateran Palace. It was it\ 
Viterbo that he completed his second Commentary 
on the Sacred Scriptures : its method is quite 
different from the first : in the latter he bases his 
views upon Tradition, whereas in the former he 
relied upon the revealed letter itself. When these 
are employed side by side, they form a component 
harmony of the written word. The one aim of his 
life was to pursue and to impart knowledge. Daniel 
d'Augusta put the question to him one day, as to 
what he considered to be the greatest gift he had 
ever received, apart from sanctifying grace : with 
candour of soul he replied that it was the gift of 
understanding all that he had ever read. To inti- 



HIS SYSTEM AND METHOD OF STUDY. 57 

mate friends he disclosed the secret of his marvellous 
wisdom, telling them that he learned more by prayer 
than from study. This is the prayer which he invari- 
ably made before lecturing or writing, or studying : 

" Creator, beyond human utterance, Who out of 
Thy wisdom's treasures didst establish three hier- 
archies of Angels, setting them in wonderful order 
to preside over the empyrean heaven, and Who hast 
most marvellously assorted the parts of the universe ; 
Thou Who art called the fountain-head of life and 
of wisdom, and the one over-ruling principle; be 
pleased to shed the ray of Thy brightness over the 
gloom of my understanding, so as to dispel the 
double shadow of sin and ignorance in which I was 
born. Thou Who makest eloquent the tongues of 
babes, instruct my tongue, and shed the grace of 
Thy blessing upon my lips. Bestow on me keenness 
of wit to understand, the power of a retentive 
memory, method and ease of learning, subtilty for 
explaining, and the gift of ready speech. Teach 
me as I begin, direct me as I advance, complete my 
finished task for me, Thou Who art truly Godand man, 
Who livest and reignest for ever and ever. Amen." 

The fortieth General Chapter of the Order met 
in London in the year 1263, at Pentecost. We 
are told that 300 brethren took part in it, in the 
priory which stood in Holborn, which, on the testi- 
mony of Matthew Paris, was previously " the noble 
residence " of the Earl of Kent. King Henry III 
gave them a cordial welcome, assisted at the open- 
ing ceremony, and, as the Garde-robe Accounts 



58 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

testify, gave a new habit to every friar present ; this 
was by no means a superfluous gift, considering 
that all had come on foot, and many from remote 
quarters of Europe. The Chapter was presided 
over by the Venerable Humbert de Romans, fifth 
Master-General, who, after nine years of govern- 
ment, now laid down his office owing to infirmities. 
The resignation came as a surprise, and was ac- 
cepted with regret, but since the Chapter was not 
an elective one, no more could be done than choose 
a Vicar- General for the ensuing year. Master 
Albertus Magnus was the one selected, and took 
up office. It was an eminent Chapter, if only from 
men of eminence who took part in it. St. Thomas 
was there, also Blessed Albertus Magnus, Peter 
de Tarentaise, better known now as Blessed 
Innocent V, Peter de Luca, the Roman De- 
finitor, all the Provincials of the order with 
their companions, the Masters from Paris, David 
de Ayr, the Vicar-General of Scotland, and 
the Vicar from Ireland, some forty definitors, 
and the professors from Oxford. The fact of St. 
Thomas's presence is not attested by contemporary 
writers, but by later ones, who set forth many 
authentic details of his life corroborated from other 
sources. This need occasion no surprise, since the 
scope and purpose of the first biographers was to 
establish the sanctity and miracles of the Angelic 
Doctor, as set forth by the Commissions. He 
would have sailed from a French port in a schaloupe, 
and landed at Deal, from whence a short journey 



HIS SYSTEM AND METHOD OF STUDY. 59 

would bring him to his brethren in Canterbury. 
From Canterbury to Rochester would form the 
second stage : then on the close of the third day 
he would be crossing Old London Bridge. There 
was an affinity between King Henry Plantagenet 
and Thomas of Aquino, although a remote one, 
since each sprang from the Princes of Normandy. 
Two main points occupy the attention of every 
Chapter : these are regular observance and study. 
During the great intellectual development of the 
thirteenth century, the question of the Schools was 
paramount ; the nomination of Masters in Theology 
to the greater centres of teaching, the assigning of 
scholars who were to read in the various faculties, 
the enforcing or modifying of the Norma Studiorum, 
all these had to be discussed, and the results pub- 
lished. The aim of those first Dominicans, whose 
motto has ever been Veritas, or Truth, was not to 
keep abreast of the times, but to go beyond them, 
to lead, and progress beyond the Sentences of Peter 
Lombard in divinity, and glosses upon Aristotle, 
Most of all they sought to specialize. Thus at 
this very time three hundred of them were engaged 
under Cardinal Hugh de St. Cher in compiling the 
first Biblical Concordance, while St. Raymund of 
Pennafort was compiling his Five Books of Decre- 
tals, and others were establishing centres for the 
study of Oriental languages. Their halls in St. 
Edward's Schools at Oxford had been open now 
just forty years, and to these many of the disaffected 
'scholars from Paris flocked. The condition of this 
5 



60 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

General House of Studies, enjoying the privileges 
of a University, would certainly form a subject for 
protracted discussion. On the conclusion of the 
Chapter, St. Thomas returned to Viterbo by way of 
Paris and Milan. In this latter city he prayed for 
some days before the tomb of his holy brother in re- 
ligion, St. Peter of Verona, the Martyr, in whose 
honour a magnificent shrine had just been erected 
over his remains in the church of the order, San 
Eustorgio. At the request of the pious donors, he 
then composed the still extant epitaph : 

Proeco, lucerna, pugil, Christi, populi, fideique, etc. 
St. Thomas was Poet as well as Theologian : his 
"Summa Theologica" is one vast epic, while his 
poems are all of them devout and couched in sweet 
flowing numbers : and right well he sang of the 
object dearest to his soul, Christ veiled in the 
Eucharist. The office composed for the festival of 
Corpus Christi is the rhapsody of a poet inspired 
by faith and devotion ; that he wrote it is due to a 
command received by Pope Urban IV, whom he 
petitioned to establish a special feast to be known 
as Corpus Christi's. The thought was by no means 
his own, for the honour falls to three holy virgins 
of Belgium, the Blessed Julienne, Prioress of Mont 
Cornillon, Eve, the recluse by Liege, and Isabel 
of Huy. Stirred by a vision of the saints petition- 
ing our Lord to establish such a festival in His 
Church, they consulted a devout Canon of Lidge, 
John de Lausanne, who warmly approved of their 
design, and wrote the original Office of the Blessed 



HIS SYSTEM AND METHOD OF STUDY. 61 

Sacrament. This good priest furthermore laid the 
scheme before Urban in the days when he was 
simply Archdeacon of St. Lambert in Liege, as 
well as before the Dominican Provincial, Hugh de 
St. Cher, besides consulting with Guy de Laon, 
Bishop of Cambrai, and three Dominican theolo- 
gians, John, Giles, and Gerard. Now that the 
Archdeacon was seated on the throne of the Fisher- 
man, he acceded to the prayers of these devout 
souls, and commissioned " his own Doctor," as he 
termed him, to compose a new office for the fes- 
tival of Corpus Christi. Approaching this work in 
the spirit of reverent criticism, one is forced to 
pronounce it a marvel of poetic vein, tenderest 
thought and sublime doctrine. Dipping his pen 
as it were into his very heart, he wrote as one in- 
spired; where all is beautiful, one is particularly 
struck with its doctrinal accuracy. Thus, in the 
Antiphon for the Second Vespers, he sets forth ad- 
mirably the fourfold purpose of the Eucharist. 

O Sacred Banquet ! wherein 

(1) The Christ is received, 

(2) The memory of His Passion recalled, 

(3) The Soul is filled with grace, and 

(4) A pledge of future glory given to us. 

The language of theology is didactic, but in 
the sequence, the Lauda Sion Salvatorem, he sings 
even while he defines, like some bell-mouthed 
Seraph strayed from heaven. With the year 1264 
closes his Noon-tide of life. The morning star's 
lustre has given place to the light of the full noon. 
5* 



PART III: EVENING. 

CHAPTER VI. 
HIS WRITINGS: SECOND PERIOD. 

WHILE the Angelic Doctor was reading his Office 
for Corpus Christi before Urban IV, the Pontiff's 
eyes were suffused with tears : never was guerdon 
better earned, so, retiring into his oratory, after a 
little while he came forth bearing the large silver 
dove containing the sacred species, and gave it as 
a memento. Then he charged St. Thomas to write 
a luminous commentary on the Four Gospels, com- 
piled exclusively from the writings of the Fathers. 
Under the title of "Catena Aurea," or "Golden 
Chain," he composed the fullest commentary ever 
drawn from Patristic sources, culled impartially from 
Eastern and Western Fathers, and for the most 
part written from memory. St. Matthew's Gospel, 
finished in 1264, was dedicated to the Pope, who 
died soon after ; the other three Gospels ; followed, 
but St. John's was dedicated to his fellow religious, 
Cardinal d'Annibaldi. Directly Pope Clement IV 
assumed the tiara in February, 1265, he summoned 
Thomas to Rome. If love of truth made our saint 
62 



HIS WRITINGS : SECOND PERIOD. 63 

always to seek the quiet of retirement, the call of 
obedience found him ready for further work. He 
now put forth another argumentative treatise, begun 
long before in Paris, in which Arabian pantheism 
yielded before the power of the syllogism ; its title 
is : " On the Unity of the Intellect, against the 
Averroists". Averroes, the cultured Arabian physi- 
cian, while outwardly professing to be a Christian, 
was an atheist at heart. Christianity he called an 
impossible religion, Judaism one for children, 
Mohammedanism one fit for hogs. The basis of his 
errors was this, that all men have but the one 
intellect, and consequently but one soul : con- 
sequently, there is no personal morality. " Peter 
is saved : I am one intellect and soul with Peter ; 
so I shall be saved." Presumably the deduction 
from unity of intellect with Judas was forgotten. 
From the appearance of St. Thomas's work, the 
philosophy of Averroes was consigned to the anti- 
quities of the buried past. 

Meanwhile the Father-General, Blessed John de 
Vercelli, and his brethren, were conscious of the 
loss to the Order in being so long deprived of the 
holy doctor's services : so now, by agreement with 
Pope Clement, he returned to the cloister-school 
of Santa Sabina on the Aventine. The General 
Chapter held at Montpellier in 1265 assigned him 
to Rome, to resume teaching. " We assign Friar 
Thomas of Aquino to Rome, for the remission of 
his sins, there to take over the direction of studies. 
Should any students be found wanting in application, 



64 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

we empower him to send them back to their own 
convents." He now drew up the scheme of his 
most memorable work, the triumph of his life, the 
great "Summa Theologica," which he was not 
destined to complete even after nine years of labour. 
The very daring of the scheme, comprising the 
whole range of dogmatic and moral theology, fills 
the world with astonishment, while its intricacy of 
argument can be likened only to some gorgeous 
tapestry woven by the genius of thought. Let us 
hear his introductory prologue. 

"Since the teacher of Catholic truth ought to 
instruct not merely the advanced, but it falls to him 
likewise to teach beginners, according to the saying 
of the Apostle in I Corinthians HI. i : ' As unto 
little ones in Christ, I gave you milk to drink, and 
not meat ' ; the purpose of our intent in this work 
is to treat of the matters of the Christian religion 
in such a way as to adapt them to the instruction 
of beginners. 

"Now we have observed that novices in such learn- 
ing are very much hindered by the writings of some 
individuals ; partly from the multiplying of useless 
questions, articles, and arguments ; partly again be- 
cause the themes to be learnt are not dealt with in 
their proper order, but just as the explanation of 
text-books called for, or as occasion for discussion 
arose ; and, finally, in part because the constant 
repetition of the same matter begot weariness and 
confusion in the minds of the listeners. 

" Kndeavouring then to avoid these and similar 



HIS WRITINGS : SECOND PERIOD. 65 

drawbacks, and confiding in the Divine assistance, 
we shall endeavour to traverse briefly and clearly all 
the matters of sacred doctrine, according as the 
matter in hand shall permit." 

Drawing exhaustively upon theological founts, he 
brings in Philosophy simply as a handmaid, to con- 
firm from Reason the teachings of Revelation. This 
Sum of Theology is the most perfect body of truth, 
the fullest exposition of theological lore ever given 
to the Church. When one calls to mind the frequent 
interruptions from daily lectures, frequent preaching 
and journeys afoot, the marvel is that it ever neared 
completion. The first Part treats of God and 
Creation. In rigid sequel the treatises deal with 
God's Existence, Unity, Attributes, and Trinity. 
Creation comprises God's creative action, the Hex- 
ameron or work of the six days, the Angels, and 
lastly Man. All this is set forth in 119 Questions, 
or divisions, subdivided into 584 articles, making 
one v great folio. The Second Part is subdivided 
into two divisions known as the First of the Second 
and Second of the Second, yielding two more folios. 
The former deals with the End of man, which is the 
Vision of God ; with Morality, Passions, Sin, Theo- 
logical and Moral Virtues, Gifts of the Spirit, Law, 
and Grace. In comprises 114 Questions, containing 
619 articles. Whereas this Part deals with the sub- 
ject matter under common consideration, the Second 
of the Second goes over the same ground in detail, 
under particular consideration, ending with the 
states of bishops and religious. This occupies 189 



66 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

Questions, with 916 articles. The Third Part 
treats of Redemption through Christ ; the chief 
treatises are the Incarnation, the Life of Christ, thus 
forming a perfect Christology ; the Sacraments as 
sources of grace applying the fruits of Redemption, 
then in detail Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, 
and Penance. When mid-way through the treatise 
on Penance, the pen was laid down to be resumed 
no more. With his own hand he wrote ninety 
Questions, containing 539 articles. The rest of the 
Part is all his, but compiled by another hand : it is 
drawn from his Commentary on the Fourth Book 
of the Sentences : this supplement contains ninety- 
nine more Questions distributed into 442 articles ; 
making the Third Part complete under 189 Ques- 
tions, with 981 articles. This vast arsenal of Ca- 
tholic Doctrine has altogether 497 Questions, sub- 
divided into 2481 articles. The First Part, written 
in Rome, occupied him during two years ; the 
Second Part was written in Bologna and Paris, the 
fruit of five years' toil ; the Third Part was compiled 
in Naples. Small wonder then that the words of a 
Pope are inserted as an antiphon in his festival 
office : 

As a river of limpid knowledge 

He irrigates the entire Holy Church. 

Ten years had elapsed since the attack was made 
on the Mendicant Orders by William de Saint 
Amour, who was forced to retire apparently a broken 
man. Once more he returned to the fray with a 



HIS WRITINGS : SECOND PERIOD. 67 

more plausible work, which the Pope handed over 
to the Master General for St. Thomas to confute. 
In 1268 appeared the Apology for the Religious 
Orders, entitled " Against those who would withdraw 
others from entering the Religious State ". He wrote 
this Apology for a purpose, and he attained it : the 
purpose was to combat prejudice against youth 
seeking the state of perfection. Presently he added 
another treatise, " On the perfection of the Spiritual 
Life," to show wherein Christian perfection lies 
essentially, and by what means it may be attained. 
All perfection consists essentially in Divine Love. 
" God is Charity" hence, since human perfection 
comes of progressive likeness to God, it follows 
that it comes of the infusion and exercise of Charity. 
It is the one abiding gift which never falls away. 
The Moral Virtues give fitness for the life of blessed- 
ness in heaven : Faith and Hope pass into Vision 
and Embrace, but Charity alone endures. The 
charity of creatures comprises four degrees, as the 
ascending scale to the Holiest Himself. There is 
the love of the Angels, whose choirs attain their 
zenith in the blessed Seraphim. The sons of light 
are the sons of fire. " Thou makest thine Angels 
spirits, and thy ministers a flame of fire " (Psalm 
cm. 4). Next in order comes the love of the Blessed, 
ever actually engrossed in the thought of God, who 
can never turn their faces away : with them their 
love is their life, and the outcome of their degree 
of charity when on earth. But, as St. Thomas 
teaches, love such as this is beyond man's earthly 



68 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

powers. " It is not given to man upon earth to 
think actually of God at all times, ever actually to 
love Him." The remaining degrees concern us 
men in our state of pilgrimage below. The charity 
of earth is twofold : the higher is that of such as 
embrace and keep the Gospel counsels of perfection, 
by professing voluntary Poverty, perpetual Chastity, 
entire Obedience. All are in the state of perfection 
who thus follow the Master out of love. The 
lowest rank is of such as are only called to, and 
are content with, what is of precept, the simple 
keeping of the Commandments. Thus the Religious 
State is one of perfection, but actual perfection is 
the heroism of fulfilment, the bloodless martyrdom 
of charity. 

In Rome during the whole Lent of 1267 our 
Saint preached in the Old Saint Peter's Basilica : 
taking Christ's Passion for his theme, he spoke so 
strongly against public vices that a change of morals 
was observable on all sides. During the Good 
Friday sermon he wept aloud, so as to move the 
whole audience to tears: on the Easter Day and 
during the Octave he made them all to thrill with 
joy and hope. As he was passing out through the 
porch, a woman long afflicted with a flow of blood 
came behind him, kissed his cloak, and was in- 
stantly cured. A remarkable Jewish conversion 
made in the previous winter stirred the hearts of 
the Romans. Cardinal d'Annibaldi having secured 
Thomas for a few days' visit to his country residence 
at Molara, invited two Rabbis to meet him, to enjoy 



HIS WRITINGS: SECOND PERIOD. 69 

his rare gift of conversation. Polite speech soon 
grew to argument between the well-measured op- 
ponents, regarding the Messiah, for it was Christmas 
Eve. The Rabbis pleaded their cause with learn- 
ing and earnestness, but all that they could advance 
was met by clear proofs to the contrary, put before 
them with all meekness and sincerity. They were 
so tenacious of their convictions, however, that all 
he said produced no immediate results : yet at the 
same time they were so captivated by his manner, 
that they promised to repeat the visit on the morrow. 
That night of the Christmas mystery Thomas spent 
before the new and abiding Bethlehem, " the home 
of bread," on the altar: where argument failed, 
prayer prevailed, and on Christmas Day he received 
them into the Christian fold. 

The holy Doctor acknowledged to friends, that, 
on every Christmas night, he obtained some special 
favour from God, some vision, or deeper insight 
into the glories of Christ. His exquisitely tender 
devotion towards our Lord stands revealed in this 
prayer : 

" Most tender Jesus, may Thy most sacred Body 
and Blood be my soul's sweetness and delight, health 
and holiness in every temptation, joy and peace in 
every sorrow, light and strength in every word and 
work, and my last safeguard in death." 

St. Thomas was now held in universal esteem as 
an oracle sent of God: halls and churches were 
taxed to their utmost capacity to contain his eager 
auditory, and those listeners were no mere youths, 



70 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

but Doctors of the schools, Bishops and even Car- 
dinals. He had such mastery over mind and senses 
that he dictated to four secretaries at the one time 
on widely different subjects, and was known to 
dictate still while fast asleep. Such is the testimony 
of two such secretaries, Reginald of Piperno and 
Hervey Brito. So capacious was his memory, that 
he never forgot what he had once read. One even- 
ing while dictating the treatise on the Holy Trinity, 
he held the candle so as to assist the scribe : soon 
he became so lost in sublime thought that he let the 
candle burn out in his ringers, without being con- 
scious of the pain. 

At Pentecost of the year 1267 he took part in the 
General Chapter of Bologna, and witnessed the 
solemn translation of St. Dominic's relics : it was 
on this occasion that the Pope sent him a Brief re- 
quiring him to choose and send two friars to assist 
the Bishop of Narenta in Dalmatia. The Univer- 
sity prayed the Chapter to leave him in Bologna, so 
he accepted a chair in the public schools. It was 
a joy for him to live in the home wherein St. Dom- 
inic died : many were the nights he spent in prayer 
before the Holy Father's tomb. It is an interesting 
fact that he composed the questions on Beatitude 
and the Beatific Vision in this hallowed spot. Out 
of consideration for his merits, two new foundations 
were bestowed upon the order. Archbishop Pa- 
tricio Matteo gave St. Paul's church in Salerno, with 
its houses and gardens, " to his friend and former 
master, Thomas of Aquino ". Abbot Bernard of 



HIS WRITINGS: SECOND PERIOD. 71 

Monte Cassino, in a Synod of the clergy within his 
jurisdiction, made over a similar establishment in 
the town of San Germano. 

In 1268 the house of Aquino was restored in its 
honours and estates, whereat the man of God 
adored heaven's judgments and designs, even while 
he poured out thanks. At the request of the Master 
General he composed a short work on " The Form 
of Absolution " : for the King of Sicily he wrote the 
first two books of the treatise " On the Government 
of Princes," but the third and fourth are by some 
other pen. 

Summoned to attend the General Chapter in 
Paris in the year 1269, at the voice of authority he 
remained there as Regent of Studies. The world 
of letters might come to him, if it so listed, but he 
would not go out to it, being pre- occupied with the 
moral section of his " Summa ". He continued on 
terms of holy intimacy with St. Louis IX, until that 
Preux Chevalier sailed for the Holy Land in 1270. 
During his two years' residence in Paris he published 
these works : "On the Soul " ; on " Potentia " ; 
" On the Union of the Word " ; " On Spiritual Crea- 
tures " ; " On the Virtues " ; " On Evil ". 

One day he accompanied the novices to the 
abbey church of St. Denys, which was the burial 
place of the Kings of France; there they sat a 
while to rest upon a hillock, and surveyed the city 
stretched before them. Hoping to hear some 
words of wisdom, one of the party observed : 
" Master, see what a splendid city Paris is ; would 



72 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

you not care to be its lord ? " Thomas gazed 
for a moment, then replied : " I would rather have 
St. Chrysostom's Homilies on Matthew's Gospel. 
What could I possibly do with such a city ? " " Well 
Father," rejoined the novice, " you might sell it to 
the King of France, and build convents for the 
Friars Preachers in many a place." " In good 
sooth," said the saint, " I should prefer the Homilies. 
If I had the government of this city, it would bring 
me many cares : I could no longer give myself to 
Divine contemplation, besides depriving myself of 
spiritual consolations. Experience truly shows 
this, that the more a man abandons himself to the 
care and love of temporal things, the more he ex- 
poses himself to lose heavenly blessings." "O 
happy Doctor," exclaims Tocco, "despiser of the 
world ! O lover of heaven ! who carried out in con- 
duct what he taught in words, who thus despised 
earthly things, as if he had already caught a glimpse 
of the heaven he was looking forward to possess." 

A man's character can be accurately measured by 
his friendships. While bearing himself affably to- 
wards all, the Angelic Doctor had but few inti- 
macies, and these were with persons of singular 
holiness. Now since friendship is based on resem- 
blance, and results in equality and expansiveness, 
one is not surprised to find that his great heart 
opened to the learned, many of whom are enrolled 
with him in the catalogue of the Blessed. 

He kept perfect control over his emotional and 
sensitive faculties. When the rude surgery of the 



HIS WRITINGS : SECOND PERIOD. 73 

time required that he should be bled, and once 
when it was deemed necessary to cauterize his knee 
with a hot iron, he put himself into a state of con- 
templation, and felt nothing whatever of the opera- 
tion. When preaching, he stood firm and erect, 
the clasped hands resting on the pulpit, the eyes 
closed, the head upturned and thrown somewhat 
backwards. At table he often sat lost in thought, 
with open eyes gazing upwards ; it was the same in 
the garden, the cloister, the cell. He frequently 
gave this injunction to Reginald, his chief secretary ; 
" Whatever you see happen in me, do not interrupt 
me ". It was in 1270 he completed his Commen- 
tary on St. Paul's Epistles, during the composition 
of which he was favoured with the visible appearance 
of the Apostle, who came to his assistance in ex- 
pounding the more abstruse passages. 

Recalled to Rome in 1271, he finished the second 
section of the Second Part of his " Summa " in the 
peaceful priory on the Aventine hill, and began the 
Third Part. His time was now devoted to this 
work, to daily lectures, and to writing a Commentary 
on Boetius. 

St. Thomas possessed a master mind ranging 
over the whole domain of Philosophy : after seven 
centuries he is abreast of our times in science, 
while not a few of our latter-day " discoveries " may 
be read in his pages. The twentieth century has 
gone back to him for its epistemology, or science 
of doctrine, to his canon of " Nihil in intellectu quin 
prius fuerit in sensu ". With him, ethics is no dry 



74 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

digest of " agibilia" it is the most practical of the 
sciences, for it is the shaping of human conduct. 
The political and social economist must consult 
him for sound economics, as Pope Leo XIII did 
in his Encyclical "Rerum Novarum"; there in 
many an eloquent passage he will find as the basis 
of social economy man's fundamental right of 
ownership, while the determination falls to the 
State. In Psychology this sage holds firm for the 
real distinction between soul and faculties, and be- 
tween the faculties themselves; feeling is largely 
identified with will, but he is no patron of Rosminian 
consciousness as being the soul's nature. It is to 
St. Thomas we go for the sound philosophical 
principles of rational physics. His exposition of 
cosmology, given in the treatise on Creation, which 
is contained in the First Part of the "Summa 
Theologica," is out and out more scientific than all 
theories of atomism, chemical forces of dynamism, 
or pretended affinities of later days. He is a 
creationist, and holds to matter and form as the 
substantialities of things. Primary matter is the 
subject of all the substantial transformations of the 
corporeal universe. Substantial form is the like- 
ness of a Divine idea, which, being expressed in 
matter, constitutes it in a determined substance : 
as a consequence, the degrees of beings depend on 
the perfection of forms. 

Nature is the first principle of motion and of 
rest. All primitive substantial forms as well as 
primary matter must come of creation : his teach- 



HIS WRITINGS : SECOND PERIOD. 75 

ing shows the impossibility of our modern bio- 
genesis. The variation of gravity he explains not 
by addition or subtraction of extraneous particles, 
but by matter itself becoming rare or dense ; hence 
heaviness is a result of density. He was well ac- 
quainted with ether, admitting as he does of an 
ethereal and most subtle bodily substance every- 
where diffused in the interplanetary spaces, as the 
vehicle and subject of the reciprocal operations of 
the stars and planets. Such is the explanation of 
the diffusion of light and heat, in agreement with 
experience. Ages before Melloni he said: "All 
light is productive of heat, even the light of the 
Moon ". Those who talk of sex in plants as a 
modern discovery had better read his " Commentary 
on the Third Book of ' Sentences '". " In the same 
plant there is the twofold virtue, active and passive, 
though sometimes the active is found in one, and 
the passive in another, so that the one plant is 
said to be masculine, and the other feminine." 1 
He was well acquainted with seminal causes, the 
laws of qualities, attraction, mechanical activity, 
and inertia of bodies : in the matter of chemistry 
there is no substantial discrepancy between his 
teaching and the true principles of modern science 
as to substantial transformation. 

Mil, " Sent.," Dist. Ill, Quest. II, art. i. 



76 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

CHAPTER VII. 
HIS HEROIC SANCTITY. 

OUR saint presented a very noble and striking 
figure. He was of lofty stature, of heavy build but 
well proportioned, while his countenance was of 
our northern complexion, " like the colour of new 
wheat,' as we read in the deposition for his canoniz- 
ation. The features were comely, the head mas- 
sive and well shaped, the forehead lofty, and he 
was slightly bald. Judging from his portrait, the 
general aspect was calm, sweet, majestic ; the deep 
meditative eyes speak of gentleness, the nose is 
long and straight, the mouth very firm. Taken 
altogether, the features reveal the inner charm of 
his soul. 

The earliest known portrait is a superb painting 
on a panel by an unknown artist of the fifteenth 
century, now preserved in the Louvre at Paris. A 
replica of inferior quality is to be seen in the sup- 
pressed Carmelite convent at. Viterbo. An in- 
scription beneath reads thus : " The true portrait 
of the Angelic Doctor Saint Thomas Aquinas, as 
described by a disciple ". 

He was the saint of sublimest thought, which he 
nourished with' spiritual reading. "In such read- 
ing I try to collect devout thoughts, which will lead 
me easily to contemplation." 

The basis of his character and conduct was holy 
humility. The advice he tendered to others, he 




Photo. Alinari. > ' . ., - 

ST. THOMAS AQUINAS:' LUNETTE FRESCO W 

CLOISTER OF SAN MARCO, FLORENCE, BY 
FRA ANGELICO DA FIESOLE. 



HIS HEROIC SANCTITY. 77 

took to heart himself. " Love of God leads to self- 
contempt, whereas self-love leads to the contempt 
of God. If you would raise on high the edifice 
of holiness, take humility for your foundation." 
In a moment of confidence he made this candid 
avowal to Fr. Reginald of Piperno. " Thanks be 
to God, my knowledge, my title of Doctor, my 
scholastic work, have never occasioned a single 
movement of vain glory, to dethrone the virtue of 
humility in my heart." Dignities he would never 
accept : he held no office in his Order. He de- 
clined the lordly abbacy of Monte Cassino, even 
though the Pope offered to let him keep his habit 
of a Friar Preacher. Clement IV tried to secure 
his acceptance of a Cardinal's hat, and expedited 
the Brief creating him Archbishop of Naples, but 
all to no purpose ; when death was in view, he 
uttered this exclamation: "Thanks be to God, I 
die as a simple religious ". 

He was very tenacious of poverty ; all his 
journeys were made on foot, his habit was of the 
poorest, he kept rigidly to the common life. Fr. 
Nicholas de Marsiliaco has furnished us with this 
testimony : " I was in Paris with Fr. Thomas, and 
I declare before God that never have I seen in 
any man such degree of innocence, such love of 
poverty. In writing his 'Sum against the Gen- 
tiles ' he had not sufficient copy-books, so he wrote 
it on scraps of paper, although he might have had 
books in abundance, had he been so minded, but 
he had no concern for temporal affairs." If mitre 
6* 



78 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

and scarlet had no attractions, still less had the 
rich revenues of an abbey, St. Peter ad Aram, in 
Rome, when offered by Pope Clement. He would 
keep nothing for his personal use, no chalice, no 
manuscript, while he held dainties in abhorrence, 
and practised austerities. 

As to obedience, it was one of his sayings that 
an obedient man is the same as a saint. He 
was just as prompt and hearty in obeying his Prior 
as in obeying the Father-General, or our Lord the 
Pope. A lay-brother in Bologna, having occasion 
to go out of the convent to make some necessary 
purchases for the table, had leave to summon the 
first friar he met to bear him company, as the rule 
required. St. Thomas was pacing the cloister at 
the moment, to whom the brother spoke thus : 
"Good father, the Prior wants you to follow me 
through the town ". Thomas complied, but as they 
strode through streets and market he was unable 
to maintain the pace, being slightly lame, for which 
he was soundly rated more than once. The 
amazed townsfolk interposed with heated speech, 
reminding the testy one of his companion's dignity, 
to say nothing of his infirmity. The simple brother 
fell at once to his knees to implore forgiveness, for 
he had no idea of the strange father's name or 
rank : St. Thomas, however, reassured him by saying 
that each was simply carrying out an obedience. 
It was then he uttered the oft-quoted maxim : 
" Obedience is the perfection of religious life : 
thereby a man submits himself to his fellow-man 



HIS HEROIC SANCTITY. 79 

for the love of God, just as God became obedient 
to men for their salvation ". 

With regard to the holy chastity, the Angelic 
Doctor is both patron and pattern of the angelic 
virtue : youth and maiden, priest and cloistered soul, 
acclaim him alike as their model and protector. 
" Incorruption bringeth nearer to God " (Wisdom, 
vi. 20). In his "Commentary on St. Paul's I 
Corinthians, " Chapter VII, lesson 6, he rehearses 
eight blessings of Virginity. 

i. It preserves cleanness of the flesh. 2. It 
beautifies and adorns the soul. 3. It makes like 
unto the Angels of heaven. 4. It espouses to the 
Christ. 5. It gives union with and closeness to 
God. 6. It surpasses other states. 7. It breathes 
forth the odour of good repute. 8. It invites to 
the eternal nuptials. Of these the most valuable 
are the fourth, fifth, and last. It espouses unto the 
Christ by giving fitness for union with Christ's 
Body in Holy Communion, and to the priest for 
making, handling, and dispensing the same. Hence 
the Poet Virgil places the life-long chaste priest in 
the Elysian fields. 

Quique sacerdotes casti, dum vita manebat. 

y vi. 661. 



It gives union with God, and closeness, by bestow- 
ing fitness for contemplation. "Where there is 
cleanness there is understanding ; " " What re- 
moves a hindrance is an indirect mover," as St. 
Thomas constantly urges. Chastity lends fitness 



8o ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

for contemplation by removing carnal desires, which 
so affect the mind's eye that even the truest see sin 
through a distorted lens. Lastly, it invites to the 
eternal nuptials. The closer anything approaches 
to its principle, the more perfect it becomes : but 
God, Who is our Principle, is a most Pure Spirit : 
therefore, Chastity leads up to perfection. But 
our last end is to be one of inseparable union with 
the all -clean God, as guests at the nuptials of the 
Lamb ; therefore Chastity disposes for such union. 
The saint lived and died a perfect virgin in mind 
and body : his heroism in youth drew Angels down 
from heaven. " He who loves cleanness of heart, 
for the grace of his lips, shall have the King for a 
friend" (Proverbs xxn. n). 

The depth of his Divine love, God alone can 
sound : it was revealed in a measure by his life, 
but he never spoke of it. " It is a good thing to 
conceal the King's secret " (Tobias XH. 7). All the 
world read his heart, his human kindness, his deep 
friendships. No hard saying ever crossed his lips : 
he could slay an argument, yet spare a foe. Without 
guile in his own soul, he could with difficulty be 
brought to believe in the guilt of others. When 
he sat in the tribunal of penance, in God's Mercy- 
seat, it was with a melting heart of pity. Two 
things he loved especially : these were the Order 
of Preachers, and God's poor. From love of the 
brethren he blessed the church bell at Salerno, 
foretelling that it would toll of itself to give warning 
of an approaching death. It kept its miraculous 



HIS HEROIC SANCTITY. 81 

power until it fell and was broken in the seventeenth 
century. 1 Like St. Dominic he was " ever joyous 
in the sight of men," uniting the grace of noble 
manners to the reserve of the religious. He in- 
culcated and observed the remembrance of God's 
presence. " Be assured," he would say, " that he 
who walks faithfully in God's presence, and who is 
ready to give Him an account of his actions, will 
never be parted from Him by yielding to sin." 

Prayer was for him the very breath of his life. 
Frequently he urged St. Augustine's maxim : " He 
knows how to live rightly, who has learnt how to 
pray properly". In the funeral discourse at his 
obsequies, Fr. Reginald bore this testimony: 
" During life my Master always prevented me from 
revealing the wonders which I witnessed. Of this 
number was his marvellous learning which uplifted 
him beyond all other men, which he owed less to 
power of genius than to the efficacy of his prayer. 
Truly, before studying, or lecturing, reading, writing, 
or dictating, he began by shutting himself up in 
secret prayer : he prayed with tears, so as to obtain 
from God the understanding of His mysteries, and 
then lights came in abundance to illumine his mind. 
When he encountered a difficulty, he had recourse 
to prayer, and all his doubts vanished." 

The Angelic teacher was likewise an Angelic 
singer : nothing but inability from sickness ever 
kept him from Choir duty. In the opening of his 
treatise, " On the Separated Substances," that is, 

1 Its power was still attested in 1678. 



82 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

the Angels, he acknowledges his absence for a time 
from Divine praise in the Ghoir, due to frequent 
attacks of sickness. " Being deprived of assisting 
at the solemnities of the Angels, we must not allow 
a time consecrated to devotion to be unoccupied, 
but rather compensate by study for the loss of 
assisting at the Divine Office." 

His devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary was 
tender and deep, as evinced by his writings, and by 
this prayer : 

" Dearest and most blessed Virgin Mary, Mother 
of God, overflowing with affection, Daughter of the 
Sovereign King, and Queen of the Angels : Mother 
of Him Who created all things, this day and all the 
days of my life I commend to the bosom of thy 
regard my soul and my body, all my actions, 
thoughts, wishes, desires, words, and deeds, my 
whole life, and my end : so that through thy prayers 
they may all be ordered according to the will of thy 
beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Lady most 
holy, be my helper and my comforter against the 
attacks and snares of the ancient foe, and of all my 
enemies." 

A few days before his death he told Fr. Reginald 
that Christ's dear Mother had appeared to him on 
several occasions, assuring him that his life and 
writings were pleasing to God, and that he would 
persevere in his state. St. Vincent Ferrer and St. An- 
toninus of Florence affirm that in his difficulties he 
used to turn to her as a child to a mother. Then 
she would stand visibly before him, and, turning 



HIS HEROIC SANCTITY. 83 

with a smile to the Divine Babe in her arms, ask 
Him to bestow the enlightenment he sought. 

A complete Mariology has been compiled from 
his works, drawing out Mary's singular graces. 1 He 
upheld the privilege of her exemption from original 
sin. It is an old-established saying, that, " with St. 
Thomas a man can never be wrong, nor can he be 
right without him ". That he upheld Mary's sinless 
conception can be established from extrinsic and 
intrinsic evidences. It is the verdict of his weigh- 
tiest exponents, such as Capponi de Porrecta, 
Joannes a Sancto Thoma, Natalis Alexander, John 
Bromeyard of Oxford, and many more. At the 
Council of Basle, John of Segobia upheld the Im- 
maculate Conception from St. Thomas's writings. 
Theologians of first rank have held the same view, 
such as Vega, Eichof, Nieremberg, Sylveira, Thyrsus 
Gonzalez, Stefano Chiesa, Piazza, Spada, Cornoldi, 
Cardinal Sfondrato, Cardinal Lambruschini, etc. 

If we open his writings we have the intrinsic 
evidences of various passages. In his " Opusculum," 
LXI, de Juilectione Dei, et Proximi, we meet this 
passage : " For the more complete manifestation 
of His power, the Creator made a mirror which is 
brightest of the most bright, more polished and 
more pure than the Seraphim, and of such great 
purity that there can not be imagined one more 
pure, except it were God : and this mirror is the 
person of the most glorious Virgin ". 

In his " Commentary on the First Book of the 

1 The work of Rev. Dr. Morgott, Ratisbon. 



84 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

" Sentences,' " he twice makes use of this sentence : 
" The Blessed Virgin Mary shone with a purity 
greater than which under God cannot be compre- 
hended." (Dist. XVII, Quest. II, art. 4, 3 m ). Here 
is his proof: " Increase of purity is to be measured 
according to withdrawal from its opposite, and 
since in the Blessed Virgin there was ' depuratio ' 
from all sin, she consequently attained the summit 
of purity ; but yet under God, in Whom there is no 
capability of defect as is in every creature of itself". 
And again he writes in Dist. XLIV, Quest. I, art 3 : 
" Purity is increased by withdrawal from its op- 
posite, and consequently some created being can 
be found purer than which nothing can be found in 
creatures, if never sullied by defilement of sin, and 
such was the purity of the Blessed Virgin, who was 
exempt from original and actual sin ". Some think 
that the expression " depuratio " argues cleansing 
from stain ; but such was not the meaning which St. 
Thomas attached to the word. The Holy Fathers 
frequently use this word with regard to God Him- 
self. St. Augustine, Peter Lombard, Fulgentius, 
Ferrandus, Hugh of St. Victor, also use it of God, 
while a whole host of writers employ it when speak- 
ing of Christ : St. Thomas uses it twice in his 
treatise on the Incarnation, and Dionysius makes 
use of it with regard to the heavenly Hierarchies. 
So then, " depuratio ab omni 'peccato" does not mean 
" cleansing from all sin," but " exemption from all 
sin". The Angelic Doctor knew the scientific 
value of the term used, and his critics do not. 



HIS HEROIC SANCTITY. 85 

The expression used above " immunis a peccato " 
is the one employed by Pope Pius IX in proclaim- 
ing the dogma. 

There is no need to expatiate on the fact that 
St. Thomas was a consummate logician, and con- 
sequently not likely to teach in one part of his 
writings the contrary to what he lays down in 
another. In the First Part of the "SummaTheo- 
logica," Question XXV, art. 6, ad. 4, he writes : 
"The Blessed Virgin, in that she is the Mother 
of God, has a kind of infinite dignity from the In- 
finite Good, which is God, and on this account 
nothing better than her can be made, just as there 
is nothing better than God ". Again in the Third 
Part, Question XXVII, art. 3, he says : " The closer 
a thing approaches to its principle in any order, 
the more it partakes of the effect of such principle. 
Hence Dionysius states in the fourth chapter of 
the ' Heavenly Hierarchies,' that ' the angels being 
nearer to God, share more fully of the Divine per- 
fections than men do '. But Christ is the principle 
of grace authoritatively according to His Divinity 
and instrumentally in His humanity, as St. John 
declares in the first chapter (of the Gospel). 
' Grace and truth are made through our Lord Jesus 
Christ' But the Blessed Virgin was closest to Christ 
in His humanity, since He drew His human nature 
from her, and therefore she ought beyond all others 
to receive the fullness of grace from Christ." 

From these two passages we gather St. Thomas's 
teaching as to Mary's prerogatives, i. She pos- 



86 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

sessed an almost infinite dignity from her closeness 
to God, in this surpassing the angels. 2. She ought, 
that is, she had the right, to receive the fullness of 
Divine grace beyond all other creatures. Since then 
it is the work of grace to purify the soul by impart- 
ing to it the Divine beauty, it follows necessarily that 
grace wrought absolute sinlessness in her soul, and 
created boundless holiness. In this dual capacity 
of closest union with God, and being the appointed 
instrument of Christ's humanity, she surpassed the 
angels, who never knew sin : she had a kind of in- 
finitude in merit which none of them ever could 
have. How then can such teaching of St. Thomas 
be reconciled with the idea that Mary had ever been 
sullied for an instant with original sin ? Let the 
theory be once admitted that Mary had been so 
defiled, then his two principles given above fall to 
the ground ; admit his principles, and the Immacu- 
late Conception is the logical result. The holy 
Doctor was well aware of the grace bestowed on 
those pre-eminent saints, Jeremiah and John the 
Baptist, yet he does not hesitate to place Mary 
incomparably beyond them, and attributes their 
sanctification to her as well as to her son. She 
must then, logically speaking, have received a greater 
grace than cleansing after conception. 

In his exposition of the " Hail Mary " he dis- 
tinctly declares the doctrine. " Thirdly, she exceeds 
even the angels in purity : because the Blessed 
Virgin was not only pure in herself, but even pro- 
cured purity for others. She was most clean from 



HIS HEROIC SANCTITY. 87 

fault, because she incurred neither original, nor 
mortal, nor venial sin." 

In his "Commentary on the Epistle to Galatians," 
III, lect. VI, the original text runs thus : "Of all 
women I have found none who was altogether ex- 
empt from sin, at least from original sin, or venial, 
except the most pure, and most worthy of all praise, 
the Virgin Mary ". 

Again in his " Commentary on the Epistle to 
Romans " : " All men have sinned in Adam, except- 
ing only the most Blessed Virgin, who contracted 
no stain of Original Sin ". 

Such are the readings of the first MS. Codices 
and early printed versions. In a marginal note 
written by St. Vincent Ferrer in his copy of the 
" Summa," Part III, Question XXVII, art. 2, ad. 2m, 
are these words : " The Blessed Virgin was exempt 
from original and actual sin ". It was these original 
texts of early manuscript Codices which early de- 
fenders of the Immaculate Conception quoted for 
their opinion, such as St. Leonard of Port Maurice, 
Bernardine de Bustis, B. Peter Canisius, Cardinal 
Sfondrato, Salmeron, and many more. Weighty 
theologians such as Velasquez, Peter of Alva, Euse- 
bius Nieremberg, Frassen, Lambruschini, Gual, and 
Palmieri, following the critical method of Herme- 
neutics, have held and shown that many passages 
of St. Thomas have been changed or interpolated. 
Let it suffice to adduce three apologetic writers who 
denounce such practices, and vindicate the purity 
of his text. Bishop Vialmo, a Friar Preacher : 



88 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

"Pro defensione Sancti Thomas"; Egidius Ro- 
manus, a disciple of St. Thomas " Castigatorium : 
in corruptorem librorum S. Thomae Aquinatis"; 
Cardinal Sfondrato : " Innocentia Vindicata " ; be- 
sides seven more apologists. 

Some of the Angelic Doctor's neat sayings 
caught in familiar conversation have been preserved. 
11 The poverty of a discontented religious is a use- 
less expense." "The prayerless soul makes no 
progress whatever." "A religious without prayer 
resembles a soldier fighting without weapons." 
" Idleness is the devil's hook, on which any bait is 
tempting." "I cannot understand how anyone 
conscious of mortal sin can laugh or be merry." 
When asked how to detect a spiritual-minded man, 
he gave this reply : " He who is constantly chatter- 
ing about frivolous things, who fears being despised, 
who is weary of life, whatever marvels he may work, 
I do not look on him as a perfect man, since all he 
does is without foundation, and he who cannot 
suffer is ready for a fall ". To his sister Theodora, 
inquiring how to become a saint, he replied with 
a single word, " Velle" or " Resolve ". 

It is not surprising that one so clean of heart 
and full of charity should be favoured with visions, 
or that the dead should make an appeal to his pity. 
Thus, in earlier years he foresaw the triumph of 
the Mendicant Friars, while they were being sub- 
jected to persecution. " A Doctor of Theology in 
Paris, a man of great reputation and learning, and 
one who rendered signal services to the Church, 



HIS HEROIC SANCTITY. 89 

during the time that the Master- General was doing 
battle for the order in the Roman Court, at the 
trying period when bitter enmity prevailed against 
the brethren, saw in a dream a great concourse of 
friars looking up to heaven, who called out to him ; 
1 Look ! Look ! ' He also gazed upwards, and 
saw these words emblazoned in letters of gold upon 
the sky : ' The Lord has delivered us from our 
enemies, and from the hands of all them that hated 
us '. At that very time the Brief issued by Pope 
Innocent against the Mendicant Friars was recalled 
by Alexander his successor, through the favour of 
the Most High" (Gerard de Frachet, "Lives of 
the Brethren," Book IV, Chap. XXIIL). 

His deceased sister, Marietta, the Abbess of 
Capua, appeared to him in Paris in the year 1272, 
to commend her soul to his prayers : some time 
later she reappeared in Rome to tell him that she 
was admitted to glory. When he inquired about 
his dead brothers Raynald and Landulf, she assured 
him that the former was already in paradise, but 
that the latter was still in purgatory. Then, em- 
boldened, he put the question as to whether he 
would himself die before long, and secure his 
eternal salvation. To this she replied : "You will 
be saved, if you but persevere, but you will attain 
your last end very differently from us ; you will 
speedily join us, but your glory will quite surpass 
ours ". Shortly after this he was consoled by the 
vision of an angel displaying a book, on which the 
names of the saints were written in golden letters 



go ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

on an azure ground, and among them he saw 
Raynald's name among the martyrs. The angel 
disappeared, and Raynald stood visibly before him. 
" How do I stand with God ? " was our saint's first 
question. "You are in a good state, my brothef! 
Such a query is unbecoming, because you are in 
the sure way which leads to life. Hold fast to what 
you now have, and finish as you have begun : learn 
also for a certainty, that none of your Order, or very 
few, will be lost." 

CHAPTER VIII. 
HIS WRITINGS; THIRD PERIOD: AND DEATH. 

THE completion of the Moral Section of the " Sum- 
ma" raised St. Thomas to the height of fame. 
The Universities of Paris, Bologna, and Naples, 
sent eager applications to have him, addressed to 
the General Chapter sitting in Florence during the 
Pentecost-tide of 1272. Rome lost him, as there 
was no reigning Pontiff to retain him, and Naples 
won him. The Capitular fathers assigned him to 
teach in Naples University, at the earnest suit of 
Charles, King of Sicily, the brother of St. Louis, 
who contributed two ounces of gold per month 
for his maintenance. Late in the month of Au- 
gust, Thomas quitted Rome in company with his 
brethren Reginald of Piperno and Bartholomew 
of Lucca. 

All three fell sick of malaria at Cardinal d'An- 
nibaldi's residence in the Campagna. Thomas 



THIRD PERIOD: AND DEATH. gi 

speedily recovered, but his companions lay in grave 
danger of their lives, so, drawing from his neck a 
relic of St. Agnes, he applied it with his blessing, 
whereat they rose instantly in perfect health. 

The home-coming of the Angelic Doctor to 
Naples was a veritable triumph. Five miles be- 
yond the city he was met by princes, senators, 
professors, and the ever-clamorous youth of a 
University; an immense concourse of citizens 
filled the festive streets, roaring out their ovation, 
while the reverend magistracy conducted him to 
his convent of San Domenico Maggiore. Such 
demonstrations deeply wounded his humility ; for- 
tunately for himself his habitual recollection of 
thought kept him unconscious of the respectful 
salutions which greeted his every appearance in the 
public streets. Shortly after his arrival the Cardinal 
Legate of Sicily and the Archbishop of Capua, a 
former disciple, went to consult with him on matters 
of grave moment : on being informed of their 
arrival, the holy Doctor descended from his cell to 
the open cloister, but so rapt in thought that he 
passed them unnoticed. Presently his face bright- 
ened, and they heard him exclaim : "I have hit 
upon the solution I was looking for ". The Car- 
dinal looked shocked for a moment at the apparent 
discourtesy, until the Archbishop assured him that 
such moments of abstraction were priceless to the 
Church ; then, pulling Thomas by the sleeve, he 
roused him from his reverie. Then only did the 
man of God observe them, and in simple language 
7 



92 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

explained the mystery of his joyful mien. " It was 
merely because an excellent argument on a long- 
debated subject occurred just then to rn*y mind, 
whose inner contemplation was expressed on my 
joyful countenance." 

His end was close at hand, like a goal in sight ; 
the words from the world behind the veil were 
vividly impressed on his memory : " You will 
speedily join us ". In his cell he prayed and wrote, 
then passed forth to lecture in the University, in 
whose Aula Maxima he delivered the treatises of 
the Third Part of the " Summa Theologica," be- 
ginning with the Incarnation. The pulpit and 
chair from which he lectured were preserved for 
centuries after, together with his statue in marble 
in the outer atrium, where a marble slab bore this 
inscription : 

" Before passing in, pay reverence to this statue, 
and to the chair from which Saint Thomas pro- 
nounced so many oracles to a countless throng of 
students, for the glory and happiness of his age ". 

Every morning he said mass at an early hour in 
St. Nicholas Chapel, after which he heard another ; 
he made his thanksgiving still vested in alb and 
girdle, but when he served mass, he resumed the 
black cappa. At the moment of consecration he 
used his favourite ejaculation : " Tu Rex gloria, 
Christe : Tu Patris sempiternus es Filius ". His Ves- 
per hour of life had come, and he welcomed it : 
during the year 1273 his raptures became more 
and more frequent ; seldom he went out, except to 



THIRD PERIOD: AND DEATH. 93 

deliver the daily lecture. Now that the Commentary 
on Boetius was finished, his philosophic labours 
were ended. His pre-occupying theme now was 
the Sacred Godhead. As revealed in prophecy, it 
is the gist of his exposition of Isaiah : as revealed 
in the Incarnation and Redemption, it is the burden 
of the " Summa " in its concluding part. One night 
his friend and secretary, Reginald, who occupied 
the cell next to his, heard him talking in a loud tone 
as if engaged in animated conversation, which was 
the more remarkable since it was being carried on 
in time of profound silence. After a while Thomas 
came to his cell and bade him to get up. " Light 
the lamp, and bring the manuscript which I have 
begun upon Isaiah : " for a long space of time he 
dictated rapidly, then told him to retire again to 
rest. Reginald then threw himself upon his knees, 
and besought him to tell with whom he had been 
conversing. Finally, in God's dear name and in 
the name of their friendship, he adjured him to 
speak. " Dear son," replied the saint, " for many 
days past you have witnessed my affliction of spirit. 
I had misgivings over a passage in the text I have 
been commenting upon, so that I besought God 
with tears to give me understanding. Now this 
very night God has had compassion upon me, send- 
ing me His blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, who 
have brought me complete light. And now, in 
God's name, I command you to keep absolute silence 
as to this fact, during my lifetime." 

After the Commentary on Isaiah he wrote his 
7* 



94 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

Exposition of the first fifty-one Psalms. During 
the Lent of this year he preached every day in the 
Cathedral upon the words, " Hail full of grace, the 
Lord is with thee" giving a summary of Mary's rare 
privileges. The Compline hour at home filled 
him with the deepest devotion : tears coursed freely 
during the singing of the Lenten anthem : " Cast 
us not off in the season of our old age, when our 
strength shall fail us : Lord God, do not forsake us ". 
As he was praying in the choir, he saw before him 
\\ the figure of Father Romanus, to whom he had 
relinquished his chair in Paris. " Welcome indeed, 
dear brother," said he; "but when did you arrive 
here ? " "I have passed from life," said the dead 
friar, "but I am permitted to appear on your ac- 
count." St. Thomas was much overcome, but re- 
covering self-possession, put these apt questions : 
" How do I stand with God, and are my works 
pleasing to Him?" "Thou art in a good state, 
and thy works are pleasing to God." "What then 
of thyself?" asked the holy Doctor. "I am in 
bliss," replied Romanus, " but have passed sixteen 
days in Purgatory." " Tell me then," cried Thomas, 
u how do the Blessed see God, and do our acquired 
habits abide with us in heaven ? " " It is enough," 
answered Romanus, " if I tell you that I see God : 
ask me no more : ' As we have heard, so have we 
seen, in the city of the Lord of Hosts' : " saying which 
he vanished. The Angelic Doctor at once gave 
voice to his conclusion : " therefore it is by specular 
vision that the Blessed see God ". 



THIRD PERIOD: AND DEATH. 95 

The servant of God was permitted at times to 
penetrate men's hidden thoughts : one such instance 
was when he rebuked a friar for leaving the choir 
to indulge in gluttony. As he was pacing the 
terrace conversing with a nobleman, the devil ap- 
peared under the guise of a negro : " How dare 
you come here to tempt me ! " he shouted as he 
advanced with clenched fist; whereupon the fiend 
vanished. 

The year 1273 was drawing to a close when the 
pen dropped from his hand, before reaching his 
fiftieth year. It was on St. Nicholas Day, the 6th 
day of December, and in that saint's chapel, that he 
had a long ecstasy while saying Mass ; what was then 
communicated to him he never revealed, but from 
that hour " he suspended his writing instruments," as 
William de Tocco puts it. Frequently he had been 
observed to be raised several cubits in the air, 
while engaged in prayer. Directly the treatise on 
the Eucharist was finished, some two months before 
this, Fr. Dominic di Caserta and other friars saw 
him thus uplifted in St. Nicholas Chapel shortly be- 
fore Matins ; but what filled them with awe was the 
miraculous voice proceeding from the mouth of the 
crucifix over the altar. " Thomas, thou hast written 
well of Me ; what reward wilt thou have ? " To 
which the holy man at once replied : " None other 
but Thyself, Lord ". Mid-way in the treatise of the 
Sacrament of Penance, after finishing ninety Ques- 
tions, of five hundred and forty-nine articles, he 
lapsed into silence. To every appeal made by 



g6 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

superiors or brethren there came the same reply : 
" I can do no more ". Fr. Reginald, his secretary 
and confidant, urged him to resume his task. 
11 Father, why do you leave unfinished this great 
work, which you have undertaken for God's glory 
and the world's enlightenment ? " But he could only 
draw the reply : "I can do no more. Such secrets 
have been communicated to me, that all I have 
written and taught seem to me to be only like a 
handful of straw." Few could credit the report 
that the great oracle would speak no more ; none 
imagined that the sun was setting, and in part 
already below the horizon. Nobly has Dante sung 
of him in his " Paradiso," Canto X : 

Such his wisdom upon earth, 
Like to the Chtrubim in lustre glowed. 

One of the lambs of that blest flock was I 
Which Dominic so leads in righteous ways, 
They thrive, unless they fall by vanity. 

The "Summa Theologica" was his legacy to the 
Church.i 

Fr. Reginald was obliged to feed him now, 
owing to his constant abstraction and frequent 
raptures. Before the Christmas festival St. Thomas 

*A study of this monumental work has wrought many 
remarkable conversions, such as Rabbi Paul of Burgos, in 
the fifteenth century; Theobald Thamer, a disciple of 
Melanchthon; the Calvinist, Duperron, afterwards Cardinal 
and Archbishop of Sens. It has earned Luther's invectives, 
as well as Bucer's menace : " Take away Thomas, and I 
will destroy the Church ". 



THIRD PERIOD : AND DEATH. 97 

spent a week with his sister, the Countess of San 
Severino, during which time they had but one long 
conversation, and that was about the joys of life ever- 
lasting. " What can have happened to my brother," 
she inquired of Reginald of Piperno, " that he is 
so entranced, and will not speak to me ? " On his 
return to Naples he fell ill of fever ; the attendant 
informed the prior that during the night he per- 
ceived a brilliant star enter by the window, and rest 
for a long time on the sleeper's head. 

In obedience to Pope Gregory's summons to 
attend at the General Council of Lyons, which 
was to open on i May, St. Thomas quitted Naples 
on 28 January, 1274, taking with him by papal 
command his treatise " Against the Errors of the 
Greeks". He set out on foot, having for com- 
panions the trusty Reginald and another friar ; so 
pre occupied was he in thought, that, as they de- 
scended from Terracina along the Borgo Nuovo 
road, he struck his head violently against a fallen tree 
and lay stunned for some time. From that moment 
Reginald never left his side, but sought to occupy 
his mind by agreeable conversation. " Master, you 
are going to the Council on behalf of our order and 
of the kingdom of Naples." "God grant that I 
may see this great good accomplished," was the re- 
ply. " And furthermore," pursued Reginald, " they 
will make you a Cardinal, like Friar Bona ven- 
ture, so that both of you will be of great service to 
the Orders of which you are members." To this 
came the prophetic reply, confirmed by the event : 



9 8 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

" There is no state in which I can be of more use 
to my Order than that in which I am at present : 
rest assured that I shall never change my state of 
life ". They halted for a few hours at Aquino ; 
there he received a letter from the Abbot of Monte 
Cassino, soliciting his interpretation of a point of 
Rule, to which he returned a gracious reply. Owing 
to his failing strength, a mule was procured, upon 
which he rode to visit his niece, the Countess 
Francesca Ceccano at Maienza Castle. There he 
fell ill, and could take no food ; it was now the 
season of Lent, and, since he would not break the 
law of abstinence, the doctor begged of him to say 
if there was any kind of food he could relish. " I 
have several times eaten in France a kind of fish 
called herring," said he ; " but it is rare and very 
dear in these parts." His physician, John de 
Guido, sought vainly for the fish, until chancing to 
meet a fisherman coming from Terracina, he found 
some herrings at the bottom of a creel of sardines. 
Then Reginald coaxed him to eat some of the her- 
rings. " From whence do they come ? " asked the 
holy Master. " It is God who has sent them," was 
the reply ; but all the same he would not partake of 
them, for fear of indulging in a delicacy. He tarried 
five days in Maienza Castle, and was able 1 to say 
mass twice ; the Abbot and some of the Cistercians 
from Fossa Nuova Abbey came to pay their respects. 
Thomas was now extremely ill, but persisted in ful- 
filling his obedience by proceeding onwards to the 
Council. Once more he mounted upon the mule, 



THIRD PERIOD: AND DEATH. gg 

and the little party of ten moved slowly on to the 
Abbey, just seven miles away. Reverently they 
lifted him and carried him at his request into the 
church, for his last visit to the Blessed Sacrament : 
after a short prayer he was again taken up and 
carried through the cloisters to the Abbot's own 
apartments. Reginald had besought him not to quit 
Maienza Castle, where he could have every remedy 
and attention, but the saint would not listen to the 
proposal. " If the Lord wishes to take me, it is 
better that I should be found in a religious house 
than in the establishment of the laity." He entered 
Fossa Nuova Abbey on 10 February; as he was 
borne through the cloisters he uttered the saying of 
the Psalmist : " This is my rest for ever : here I 
shall dwell, for I have chosen it " (Psalm cxxxi. 14). 
The good Cistercians lavished every attention upon 
him, cutting and carrying faggots for the fire. 
"Whence comes this honour," he cried, in distress 
of humility, "that holy men should carry wood for 
my fire ! Whence comes it that God's servants 
should wait upon me, and carry a burden so far, 
which must be painful to them ! " Very speedily 
the tidings reached Naples that his dissolution was 
at hand ; soon the Abbey was thronged with nobility 
and clergy and brethren, importuning to see him 
but once again. Among the Friars Preachers came 
his younger brother Rayner, who afterwards became 
Archbishop of Messina in Sicily. 1 

1 The Bullarium Ordinis Prasdicatorum, Tome II, gives 
him among the prelates promoted by Pope Honorius IV. 



ioo ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

During an interval of the intermittent fever the 
Cistercians besought him to dictate an exposition 
of the Canticle of Canticles. "Give me St. 
Bernard's spirit, and I will do so," said he. 
Touched by their kindness, he complied : supported 
on his bed, he dictated the Commentary as Reginald 
read each succeeding verse, while eager hands com- 
mitted it to writing. This, let it be observed, was 
his second exposition of Solomon's Song ; it is 
entitled "Sonet vox tua," whereas the first is en- 
titled "Salomon inspiratus". This second work 
must be accepted rather as the fruit of his piety 
than of his learning. His biographer, William de 
Tocco, makes this observation on the fact : "It 
was fitting that the great Doctor, now about to be 
released from the body, should finish his teaching 
by the Canticle of Love between Jesus Christ and 
the faithful soul ". The last words dictated were a 
passage from St. Paul, so fully realized in himself: 
" Our conversation is in heaven : for in every place 
we are unto God the good odour of Christ ". On 
coming to the eleventh verse of the seventh chapter 
" Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the fields" 
he swooned away, for his end was near. As the 
lamp of vitality was burning low, he received the 

" Prater Raynerius de Aquino, germanus frater Doctoris 
Angelici S. Thomae, Archiepiscopus Messanus, Messina 
in Sicilia." See also Bernard Guidonis, de Episcopis 
Siciliae ; Cavalerius, de Episcopis Ord. Praed., Tom. I, p. 46, 
no. cxxxv ; Stephanus Sanpayo, ex. MSS. Archivii Caenobii 
Neapolitani S. Dominici. 



THIRD PERIOD : .AND DE^-TH. 101 

last anointing after confessing to Fr. Reginald. 
The Abbot then brought him the Sacred Viaticum, 
while the brethren knelt around. Upborne in 
Reginald's arms the dying saint made this protesta- 
tion of faith : " If in this world there be any know- 
ledge of this mystery keener than that of faith, I 
wish now to use it to affirm that I believe in the 
real presence of Jesus Christ in this Sacrament, 
truly God and truly man, the Son of God, the Son 
of the Virgin Mary. This I believe and hold for 
true and certain. This faith is in my heart, and I 
profess it with my lips, just as the priest has pro- 
nounced it." 

To Fr. Reginald it seemed impossible that St. 
Thomas should die thus early, when only entering 
upon his fiftieth year, so he used every art to rouse 
him, especially by dwelling on the great work which 
was before him in the coming Council, and of the 
sure honours which awaited him. Then with dying 
breath the holy Doctor made his last reply : " My 
son, keep yourself from harbouring any such 
thoughts, or from troubling yourself in this matter. 
What used to be at one time the object of my 
desires, is now a matter of thanksgiving. What I 
have ever been asking of God He now grants to 
me this day, in withdrawing me from this life in 
the same state in which it pleased His mercy to 
place me. Without a doubt I might have made 
further progress in learning, and have made my learn- 
ing to be more profitable to others, by sharing with 
them what has been manifested to me. But the 



102 -ST. THOMAS AjQUINAS. 

infinite goodness of my God has let me know, that 
if, without any merit of my own, I have received 
more graces and lights than other Doctors who 
have lived a long while, it is because the Lord 
wished to shorten the days of my exile, and to take 
me the sooner to be a sharer in His glory, out of 
a pure act of mercy. If you love me sincerely, be 
content and comforted, since my own consolation 
is perfect." 

After receiving the holy Viaticum he closed his 
eyes, and was silent for a short time, then repeated 
aloud his devout Rhythm 

Adoro Te devote latens deltas 
Quae sub his figuris vere latitas. 

He uttered this Divine song to the finish, and 
yielded up his soul in the early morning of 7 
March, 1274. 




Photo. Ahnari. ' , . ', o - > ' \ /'*' 

ALTAR-PIECE BY GUERCINO? IN TH'E GHAPEL* OF 



ST. THOMAS AQUINAS, CHURCH OF ST. DOMINIC, 
BOLOGNA 



PART IV: THE NIGHT OF 
REST. 

" And night shall be my light in the fullness of 
my delights." Psalm cxxxvin, 1 1 . 

CHAPTER IX. 
MIRACLES AND CANONIZATION 

THE holy body was reverently carried beyond the 
cloister for the consolation of the Countess Fran- 
cesca and female friends, after which it was laid 
out in the choir, with the face exposed. A great 
concourse of the faithful flocked to the church; 
such as were not permitted to enter the chancel 
touched the coffin with olive branches, which 
they kept as relics. The Requiem Mass was sung 
by the Bishop of Terracina, who was a Franciscan, 
in the presence of the Abbot and Cistercians, the 
Friars Preachers and Friars Minor. Fr. Regi- 
nald of Piperno pronounced the funeral dis- 
course, broken with sobs, as he removed the veil 
which had concealed a life of consummate holiness. 
At its conclusion he made formal protest that he 



io 4 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

only left the body until further arrangements should 
be made by the Master General of the Order. 
Then, amid a universal wail, the earthly shrine of 
Thomas Aquinas was removed, and buried in a 
vault under the high altar. When tidings of his 
death reached Lyons, the Pope and Cardinals were 
filled with profound grief; the Holy Father ordered 
his treatise " Against the Errors of the Greeks " to 
be sent on to the Council. The saying of Eliphaz, 
recorded in Job v. 26, was realized in St. Thomas. 
" Thou shalt enter into the grave in abundance, as a 
sheaf of wheat which is brought in its season ". 

The Cistercians of Fossa Nuova saw a great 
light over the Abbey for three days, which passed 
away at his death. The same marvel was beheld 
over the Dominican priory at Cologne. At the mo- 
ment of his death one of the Cistercians engaged 
in prayer in the Abbey church saw St. Thomas's 
soul mount to heaven like a radiant star. 

At the same moment Master Albert in Cologne 
turned to Fr. Albert of Brescia, exclaiming with 
tears : " My son in Christ, Thomas of Aquino, 
the light of the Church, is dead, as God has re- 
vealed to me. He was the world's flower and 
glory, and has rendered superfluous the writings of 
Doctors who shall come after him." 

At Anagni, Fr. Raymund Maturi, while asleep 
a few nights after this, had a vision in which he 
saw St. Thomas, duly vested, proceed to the altar 
and say mass. What struck him as singular was 
the fact that his right eye appeared to be larger than 



MIRACLES AND CANONIZATION. 105 

the other. The saint explained the wonder, with 
these words : " My son, the knowledge which I 
enjoy in heaven is greater than what I had on earth, 
just as my right eye is greater than my left one ". 

Fr. Paul of Aquila beheld this vision while pray- 
ing in the church of San Domenico at Naples. He 
saw Thomas seated in his professorial chair, teaching 
a crowd of disciples. Presently St. Paul appeared 
with a number of the saints, who conversed fa- 
miliarly with him. He distinctly heard Thomas 
ask St. Paul if he had rightly interpreted his Epistles, 
whereat the Apostle replied : " Yes, so far as any- 
one in the mortal body can understand them ; but 
come away with me, and I will conduct you to a 
place where you will have clearer understanding 
of all things ". Then grasping the holy Doctor by 
his cloak, St. Paul led him away. Then Fr. Paul 
shouted aloud: "Alas! Alas! Alas! our Doctor 
is taken from us!" 

Fr. Albert of Brescia, a professor at Cologne, 
poured out many and frequent prayers, especially 
to the Blessed Virgin and to St. Augustine, that he 
might ascertain the Angelic Doctor's degree of glory. 
As he was kneeling before the altar, he beheld two 
figures before him, one wearing a Mitre, and the 
other clad in the Dominican habit : they were St. 
Augustine of Hippo and Fr. Thomas Aquinas. St. 
Thomas's habit was resplendent with precious stones, 
while on his head he bore a crown of gold and 
diamonds. From his neck there hung two chains, 
one of gold and one of silver ; on his breast was a 



io6 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

large carbuncle stone flashing rays of light like a sun. 
Then the figure with the mitre addressed him. 
"Why are you astonished, Fr. Albert? God has 
heard your prayer. I declare to you that I am 
Augustine, a Doctor of the Church, sent to acquaint 
you of the glory of Thomas Aquinas, who is reign- 
ing with me. He is my son, because he followed 
the teaching of the Apostle, and my own, and he 
has illumined the Church with his learning. This 
is signified by the precious stones with which he is 
adorned. The shining jewel on his breast denotes 
the uprightness of intention with which he defended 
and proclaimed the Faith : the other jewels represent 
the books and writings of all kinds which he com- 
posed. Thomas is my equal in glory, but surpasses 
me by the aureola of Virginity." 

Eleutherius, a Franciscan theologian of repute, 
was also favoured with a vision. He beheld the 
Mother of God seated in glory, while beneath stood 
St. Francis with St. Thomas, whose cappa was 
studded with stars. Pointing to St. Thomas, the 
Seraphic Father spoke thus to Eleutherius : " Con- 
fide in this man, for his teaching shall never pass 
away ". 

God revealed the saint's glory by very many 
miracles, ninety-six of which were duly attested, 
and submitted as evidence for his canonization. 
While his body lay exposed in the Abbey tChoir, 
the Subprior, John de Ferentino, who was com- 
pletely blind, placed his eyes against those of the 
saint, and instantly saw. The holy Doctor's cell in 



MIRACLES AND CANONIZATION. 107 

Naples became a resort of pilgrims, one of whom, 
the renowned Egidius Romanus, uttered the phrase : 
11 1 am come to adore in the place where his feet 
have ,stood". Master Albert of Cologne could 
never hear his name mentioned without breaking 
into tears. Learning that his doctrine was im- 
pugned in Paris, although over 80 years of age, he 
proceeded thither on foot with Hugh de Lucca in 
1276, and defended St. Thomas's teaching warmly 
before the University. "What a glory it is," he 
exclaimed, " for the living to be praised by the 
dead ! " After representing the saint as being en- 
dowed with life while all others were covered with 
the shades of death, he poured forth a splendid 
eulogy of his doctrines as resplendent with ortho- 
doxy and piety, and declared himself ready to meet 
any opponent. He did the same at Cologne, de- 
claring that by his writings Thomas had laboured 
for all to the end of time. 

Owing to the pressure of Church affairs of graver 
importance/ little beyond collecting of evidence 
was done towards the canonization under the brief 
pontificates of the Dominican Popes, Blessed In- 
nocent V, and Blessed Benedict XI. Innocent 
spoke of him in terms of no common praise : " The 
teaching of this Doctor beyond all others has fitness 
of terms, manner of expression, and soundness of 
opinions ; so that he who holds it will never swerve 
from the path of, truth : while, on the contrary, he 
who attacks it must always be suspected ". Benedict 
invariably styled him : " My Master ; my Doctor ". 
8 



io8 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

The solemn process of canonization was begun 
in 1318, promoted by Robert, King of Sicily, and 
supported by petitions from the Universities, the 
hierarchy, clergy, and the Order of Preachers. The 
official testimonies to be presented to the Pope 
at Avignon were entrusted to Friars William de 
Tocco and Robert de Benevento ; as they were 
proceeding to France <by sea, a great storm arose, 
and the ship was being carried towards the rocks, 
when they prayed aloud to St. Thomas to preserve 
them ; the wind then veered round, and they 
reached land safely. On delivering up the docu- 
ments, Pope John XXII accepted them eagerly, 
and thus addressed the prelates and friars : " We 
do not doubt that Br. Thomas is already glorious 
in heaven, his life having been saintly, and his 
doctrine miraculous ". Three days later, in Con- 
sistory, he again reverted to it. "Venerable 
Brethren : We deem it a great glory for ourselves 
and for the whole Church, to inscribe this servant 
of God in the catalogue of the saints." The decree 
was then read introducing the cause of canoniza- 
tion, and three prelates appointed as Commissioner 
to examine the evidence of miracles ; these were 
Humbert, Archbishop of Naples ; Angelo, Bishop 
of Viterbo, and Pandulf, an Apostolic Notary. 
Heaven now aided the cause by striking miracles. 
The Archbishop of Naples was suffering from an 
incurable ulcer: he now commended himself to 
the saint's intercession before retiring to rest, and 
in the morning it was gone, leaving only a red 



MIRACLES AND CANONIZATION. 109 

mark. The Bishop of Viterbo fell ill of a violent 
fever, and lay at the point of death : he also 
prayed with confidence to the Angelic Doctor, 
slept peacefully, and awoke in perfect health. The 
same thing happened to Matthew, the chaplain of 
the Archbishop of Naples. Two further Commis- 
sions sat, at Naples and at Fossa Nuova, to sub- 
stantiate the evidence of miracles. While these 
reports were being examined at Avignon, another 
singular miracle was wrought by the saint's inter- 
cession. Mary d'Arnaud, the Pope's niece, lay at 
the point of death from dropsy, so the Holy Father 
sent her the last blessing by the Bishop of Lodevi. 
It so chanced that the Bishop was a Dominican, 
who recommended her to have recourse to St. 
Thomas. She did so fervently, and during the 
night saw some one draw nigh to her bed, whom 
she took to be the Bishop. " Do you wish to be 
cured ? " asked the visitor. " I am not the Bishop, 
but Brother Thomas Aquinas, to whom you have 
had recourse : fulfil the vow you have made, and 
you will recover." In the morning she found her- 
elf in perfect health. 

Three Dominican Cardinals completed the final 
stages of the process with zeal and fervour : these 
were Nicholas Aubertin, Nicholas de Freauville, 
and William de Godieu. 

The day appointed for St. Thomas's canoniza- 
tion was 1 8 July, 1323. The preliminary cere- 
mony began in the Dominican Church in Avignon 
on the day before, in the presence of Pope John 
8* 



no ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

XXII, the Cardinals, very many Archbishops and 
Bishops, King Robert of Sicily, his mother Queen 
Mary, many princes, nobles, and ambassadors. 
The Pope pronounced a grand eulogium of the 
saint's works and merits, grounded on this text : 
" This is a day of good tidings : if we hold our peace ; 
and do not tell it to the morning, we shall be charged 
with crime : come, let us go and tell it in the King's 
court" (4 Kings VH. 9). 

King Robert of Sicily, a relative of the saint, 
then gave an address, showing how St. Thomas 
had merited the honour bestowed, because he had 
been, and would ever continue to be, " a burning 
and a shining light" (St. John v. 35). 

The Archbishop of Capua followed with a pane- 
gyric, who was succeeded by Fr. Raymund Bequin, 
the Master of the Sacred Palace ; further orations 
were delivered by the Archbishop of Aries, the 
Bishops of London, Winchester, and others. 

On the morning of 18 July the Pope had the 
Bull of canonization read, assigning 7 March for 
the feast, after which he sang the votive mass of 
St. Thomas in the Cathedral of Notre Dame des 
Doms, and pronounced another eulogium. " His 
doctrine was not other than miraculous," cried the 
Pontiff. "He has enlightened the Church more 
than all other Doctors, and more profit can be 
gained in a single year by the study of his works, 
than by devoting a lifetime to that of other theo- 
logians. He has wrought as many miracles as he 
has written Articles." 



TRANSLATIONS OF HIS RELICS. in 

CHAPTER X. 
TRANSLATIONS OF HIS RELICS. 

FROM the day of his departure, petitions were ad- 
dressed to the Holy See for the privilege of 
possessing his incorrupt body : the King of Sicily 
and the Counts of Aquino and San Severino did so 
by title of kinship, the Universities of Paris and 
Naples by reason of his services rendered in life, 
and his own Order by right of sonship. The Cis- 
tercians of Fossa Nuova, however, kept their treas- 
ure for close upon a century ; since their church 
had become a sanctuary renowned for miracles, 
they refused to part with what Providence had sent 
them. 

In October, 1274, Abbot James and two monks 
secretly removed the body to St. Stephen's Chapel 
in the cloister, for which the saint rebuked them 
in a dream : incautiously they opened the coffin, 
whereupon a marvellous perfume exhaled which 
penetrated the cells and church, and the deceit 
practised was exposed. All saw him as if but re- 
posing in sleep : as they carried him back to the 
church a marvellous light shone around. Abbot 
Peter translated the body to a befitting tomb in the 
choir in 1279, situated on the Gospel side of the 
high altar. The right hand, still perfectly intact 
and giving forth a delightful odour, was cut off in 
1284 and bestowed on his sister the Countess of 
San Severino, who placed it in a silver reliquary : 



H2 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

her son, Thomas, afterwards gave it to the Domini- 
cans of Salerno. 

Early in the year 1304, in consequence of a 
report that Pope Benedict XI meant to restore the 
remains to the Friars Preachers, the Cistercians 
amputated the head and placed it in a tabernacle 
behind the chqir ; the body, still exhaling the same 
fragrance, they deposited in a massive chest for 
secret concealment. It was privately conveyed to 
the Chapel of the Count of Fondi, another kinsman 
of the holy Doctor. The Lord of Piperno, who was 
at feud with him, resolved on carrying off the treas- 
ure, so as to extort a heavy ransom. Philip, King 
of Sicily, now sent an embassy of bishops and 
nobles, together with a great donation of gold, in 
order to secure the holy remains, alleging his claim 
of descent from the Aquinos : but the Count of 
Fondi would not deliver them up. Years went 
past, until St. Thomas admonished the Count that 
his relics were not in their proper place. His 
mother, who had been healed at his intercession, 
was praying with the Bishop of Fondi before the 
great chest, when both beheld him emerge as a 
living man, and after walking for a short time in 
silence, laid himself down again to rest. In con- 
sequence of this, the Count resigned the body 
to the Dominicans of Fondi, who placed it in their 
church. Here, for the second time, St. Thomas 
came forth visibly before Father- Ray mund. The 
Cistercians addressed a complaint to Pope Urban 
V, who ordered an investigation to be made as to 




BODY OF ST. THOMAS AQUINAS (IN CHASSE ABOVE ALTAR), 
REMOVED FROM DOMINICAN CHURCH AT THE REVOLU- 
TION TO THE CHAPEL OF THE HOLY GHOST, CHURCH 
OF ST. SERNIN, TOULOUSE. 



TRANSLATIONS OF HIS RELICS. 113 

the respective claims of the two Orders ; the rights 
of the Friars Preachers were warmly urged by the 
Queen of Sicily, the Count of Aquino, and the 
Dominican Cardinals. The Father General, Elias 
of Toulouse, then went direct to the Pope. "You 
come at the right time," said Urban; "it is you 
who stole the body of St. Thomas." " Holy Father," 
answered Elias, "he is our brother and our flesh." 
" And where then have you ordered it to be depos- 
ited ? " pursued the Pontiff. " Nowhere, Most Holy 
Father : that shall be as you decide." Nothing was 
then decided ; within a few days the Court moved 
to Montefiascone, at Whitsuntide, whither Father 
Elias followed on Corpus Christi Day. " Holy 
Father," said he, " to-day's solemnity reminds me 
that St. Thomas composed the Office of the Blessed 
Sacrament by order of Pope Urban. Since you 
bear the same name, I beseech you to grant to the 
Saint the honour he deserves, and that his body 
shall rest among his brethren, who will reverence 
him more than any others." Raising his voice, the 
Pope gave solemn sentence. " By the authority of 
our Lord Jesus Christ, of the blessed Apostles 
Peter and Paul, and our own, I give and grant to 
you, the Master General, and to the Order of Friars 
Preachers, the body of St. Thomas Aquinas, a 
religious of this Order, to be placed at Toulouse, or 
Paris, as shall be decided by the General Chapter 
or the Master General. In the name of the Father, 
and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." All present 
then answered "Amen!" Next day the Pope 



u 4 Sf. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

fixed upon Toulouse, as being the cradle of the 
order. Learning that the head was still at Fossa 
Nuova, he continued: "And I also give you St. 
Thomas's head, that it may be translated with 
the body ". 

On 4 August, 1368, the head and body were laid 
in the papal chapel at Montefiascone, and solemnly 
delivered over to the Master General's keeping. 
The relics reposed for a month with the Dominican 
Sisters at Prouille, and many were the miracles 
wrought on the way. On 28 January, 1369, they 
were solemnly conveyed to the Dominican Church 
in Toulouse by Louis Duke of Anjou, many pre- 
lates, and a concourse of 150,000 persons. The 
festival of his Translation became a day of precept 
for the diocese. His right arm was bestowed on 
Paris University, and was placed by King Charles 
in the Dominican Church, in St. Thomas's Chapel ; 
at the Great Revolution it was conveyed to Rome, 
and now rests in the Minerva Church. The chief 
bone of his left arm was given to his brethren in 
Naples, who transferred it to the Cathedral in 
1603. 

In 1628 a magnificent shrine, with altars at the 
four sides, was erected in Toulouse. At the Great 
Revolution it was thrown down, and the remains, 
draped with the Republican flag, conveyed for 
safety by the Constitutional clergy to an obscure 
corner in St. Sernin's crypt. They were exposed 
for veneration in 1805 ; the sacred head was en- 
closed in a new reliquary in the year 1852. On 



EPILOGUE. 115 

24 July, 1878, the Archbishop of Toulouse, Mon- 
seigneur Desprez, after judicial verification of the 
relics, enclosed them in a superb sarcophagus of 
gold and silver. 

EPILOGUE. 
COMMENDATIONS OF HIS DOCTRINE. 

IN the Council of Trent, Master John Gallic de 
Burgos eulogized his writings : " The name of the 
Angelic Doctor, already so renowned throughout 
the Christian world, -will be held in still higher 
veneration by posterity from the honour and cultus 
which you have been pleased to bestow upon him 
here. St. Thomas had not the honour of assisting 
at a General Council during his lifetime, but he still 
lives on after death. He is present with you in the 
spiritual treasures of his writings, bequeathed to 
you as a rich heritage. In this sense we can rest 
assured that no Council has ever been held in the 
Church since his blessed death, at which the holy 
Doctor has not been present, and has not been 
consulted." 

Pope St. Pius V proclaimed him Doctor of the 
Church in the year 1567. The Vatican Council 
of 1870 likewise placed his "Summa" on the 
altar. 

On 4 August, 1879, p P e Leo XIII published 
the Encyclical " ^Eterni Patris" dwelling on the 
importance of basing Christian dogma on sound 



n6 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS. 

Philosophy. " Amongst the Scholastic Doctors, 
the Prince and Master of all, Thomas Aquinas, 
shines with incomparable splendour. Enriched 
with all Divine and human sciences, justly com- 
pared to the sun, he reanimates the earth by the 
bright rays of his virtues, while filling it with the 
splendour of his doctrine. Distinguishing accu- 
rately between reason and faith, he unites them in 
the bonds of perfect concord, while preserving the 
rights and maintaining the dignity of each. So 
then, reason, upborne on the wings of Thomas, can 
soar no higher, while faith can obtain from reason 
no more numerous and efficacious helps than those 
furnished by Thomas. 

" We cannot wonder then at the immense enthu- 
siasm of former ages for the writings of the Angelic 
Doctor. Nearly all the founders and legislators of 
Religious Orders have ordered their subjects to 
study the doctrine of St. Thomas, and to keep to it 
religiously : they have provided beforehand that no 
one amongst them should depart with impunity, 
even in the least point, from the teaching of so great 
a man." 

Another Brief followed on 4 August, 1880. 
" In virtue of our supreme authority, for the glory 
of Almighty God, and the honour of the Angelic 
Doctor, for the advancement of learning and the 
common welfare of human society, we declare the 
Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas, Patron of all 
Universities, Academies, Colleges, and Catholic 



EPILOGUE. 117 

Schools : and we desire that he should be venerated 
and honoured as such by all." 

O Thoma, laus et gloria 
Praedicatorum Ordinis, 
Nos transfer ad caelestia 
Professor sacri Numinis. 



BIBLIOGRAPHY. 

J. V. de Groot. " Het. Leven van den H. Thomas 

van Aquino." Utrecht, 1882. 
P. Mandonnet. " Des ecrits authentiques de S. 

Thomas d'Aquin." Fribourg, 1910. 

A. Touron. " La Vie de S. Thomas d'Aquin, Cri- 

tique sur les CEuvres." Paris, 1741. 
Natalis, Alexander. " Opuscula Apologetica pro 

doctrina S. Thomse Aquinatis." Paris, 1680. 
J. de Gerson, Chancellor of Paris. " Epistola ad 

studentes Collegii Navarrensis de doctrina S. 

Thomse Aquinatis." 

B. de Rubeis. " Dissertationes in singula opera D. 

Thomae Aquinatis." Venice, 1740. 

R. B. Vaughan. " Life and Labours of S. Thomas 
of Aquin." Hereford, 1871. 

" Bullarium Ordinis Praedicatorum," to the eight- 
eenth century, gives thirty-eight Constitutions 
of eighteen Popes, extolling the writings of S. 
Thomas. 

11 Analecta Ordinis Praedicatorum," Rome. Vol. II, 

1895, gives the Apostolic Letters of Leo XIII 

to the Universities of Lille, Baltimore, and 

Louvain, commending S. Thomas's teaching 

118 



BIBLIOGRAPHY. ng 

and imposing it. Vol. III., 1897, Pope Leo's 
Apostolic Letter of 30 December, 1892, to the 
Jesuits, to the same effect. Vol. IV, the 
Letter to the Friars Minor of 25 November, 
1897. 

J. Vielmus. " De Divi Thomae Aquinatis Doctrina 
et Scriptis." Parma. 

Bollandists, " Acta 'Sanctorum : Vita S. Thomae 
Aquinatis," given under 7 March, embodying 
the life by Tocco. 

The learned Commentators of his works : Cajetan, 
Soto, Capreolus, Sylvius, Capponi, Medina, 
Joannes a S. Thoma, Bannes, Billuart, and the 
Theologi Salmanticenses. 

The chief editions of the " Opera Omnia " : Rome, 
1570; Venice, 1594; Antwerp, 1612; Paris, 
1660; Venice, 1775; Parma, 1852-69; the 
Leonine at Rome, 1882-1907 and still in pro- 
gress. 



Jtihil 



F. INNOCENTIUS APAP, O.P., S.T.M. 
F. ROBERTUS BRACEY, O.P. 
Revisores Ordinis 



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