In honor of The Feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas today, I would like to share my Saint Name Project with you that I wrote last March for my Confirmation. It gives a brief history of Thomas Aquinas’ life, ministry and accomplishments within the Catholic Church, and the reasons why I chose him as my saint, which ties to my fondness of wine.
Saint Thomas Aquinas
I have chosen Saint Thomas Aquinas as my Confirmation Saint Name. Before I give my motivations for favoring him, I would like to present a little history of his life, which will provide more understanding of his path to sainthood.
Saint Thomas Aquinas’ mother, Theodora, and father, Landulph, count of Aquino, gave birth to their son on January 28, 1225 in Roccasecca, Italy. His family came from royal descendants, but their class rank was likely considered at the lower end. At age five, Thomas was sent to Monte Cassino to begin his education, then was moved to Naples, where he became acquainted with the studies of Aristotle, which would later provide an enormous impact on his teachings of theology and philosophy. At age nineteen, against his family’s direction, he chose to assemble with the Dominican monks and receive his habit. His family felt violated, so they decided to kidnap him and hold him captive in their castles back home at Monte San Giovanni and Roccasecca for a year. During that time his family attempted to dissuade him from being a Dominican monk, even to go so far as to entice him with a prostitute, but Thomas would not relent, and the incident only gave him more strength to remain a virgin. His family finally subsided, and in 1245, he was released and returned to the Dominicans. Over the next several years, he studied in Naples, Italy, then Cologne, Germany, where he became ordained as a priest in 1250, and later ended up in Paris, France where he was taught by St. Albert the Great, the Patron Saint of Scientists, and earned his doctorate in theology.
During this era, one big controversy was how theology (faith) and philosophy (reason) were or were not correlated. Previous philosophers thought the two were completely separate from each other, and Thomas wanted to prove that one was needed for the other to work accordingly, so after completing his education, he felt compelled to begin a preaching voyage to teach his learnings and to document his research on their interdependence. Thus became his writings of almost 60 known works, and among them the Summa Theologica and the Summa contra Gentiles are his most acclaimed and controversial. In his writings, he distinguishes Theology and Philosophy as two different sciences of God, and to achieve revelation (theology) one must be advised by reason to restrain from lapse of judgement, and one needs reason to analyze and define their faith. He also wanted to show evidence that everything originates from God. Amid much of Thomas’ discoveries, I believe his greatest achievement, and most argumentative today, is in the Summa contra Gentiles, in which he proves the existence of God in five ways: 1)Movement needs someone or something to make the unmoved move, and that is God. 2) Effect needs a cause, and the cause is God. 3)Being is temporary and the permanent being is God. 4)Humans are defective, God is perfect. 5)Knowledge is given to humans by God, who knows everything.
Among his time, Thomas was offered a bishop ship, but he declined any higher clerical positions for he only wanted to teach and write. Then one day while celebrating the Feast of St. Nicolas in 1273, Thomas claimed he was told by God that he did not need to write anymore because what he had written was well enough. Shortly thereafter, on March 7, 1274 he passed away. His canonization took place in 1323, and in 1567 he was given the title as a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius V. His feast day was originally the day of his death, March 7, but it always fell in the time of lent, so it was moved to his birth date January 28 in 1969. In the late 19th century, during the time of Pope Leo XIII, Thomas’ theology became the essence of Catholic indoctrination, both inside the church and in Catholic educational institutions, therefore, he was announced as the patron of Catholic education and students.
Now for a few reasons why I chose St. Thomas Aquinas as my saint. I’ll be honest here, as I should be since this is a project for the Sacrament of Confirmation. The main reason I know of him and why I chose him was because I came across a bottle of wine named Aquinas while dining out with my husband. We thoroughly enjoyed it, so I read the back of the bottle. I wanted to find out what this Aquinas was about because I had never heard of the name.
To my delight, I discovered that “Aquinas wines are named for St. Thomas Aquinas, the seminal 13th century Italian priest, theologian and philosopher who dedicated his life to reconciling reason and faith. Just as he challenged the assumptions of his world, we are challenging the assumptions within ours.”
I was intrigued by their statement, and I wanted to discover more about this saint. Upon more research, I realized that I felt exactly the same about his belief that God and Science go hand in hand. Science can’t exist without God, who created it, and God uses Science to prove to us human beings that He exists. It was like a lightning bolt and it made so much sense to me.
I also was impressed by Thomas’ loyalty to God by remaining celibate, even given the temptations by his own family. He was incredibly humble. He knew what his calling from God was supposed to be, which was to write and teach, so he declined any position that was of higher rank than a priest. He was a man who went against the odds to seek answers, and he was able to brilliantly prove a correlation that everyone else thought was completely unrelated. He was a man of honor. He was a man of God.
“St. Thomas Aquinas – Saints & Angels.” Catholic Online. Catholic Online, 2015. Web. 24. Mar. 2015
“St. Thomas Aquinas.” Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2015. Web. 24 Mar. 2015.
“About.” Aquinas. Don Sebastiani & Sons, 2014. Web. 24 Mar. 2015.