Thomas Aquinas 1225-1254) was born to a rich, influential military family in Naples, Italy. His brothers were all successful in the military or in politics, and everyone expected Thomas to follow in their footsteps. Thomas, however, had his heart set on being a Dominican monk. Thomas’ mother wrote letters to the Pope, asking that he “rescue her son from his madness.” His older brothers kidnapped him and held him in the family castle to change his mind. When this didn’t work, they sent in a prostitute to try to take his mind off of his heavenly calling. Thomas was so infuriated that he chased the woman from the room and burned the mark of a cross on the door behind her. Finally, Thomas’ sister, respecting his devotion, arranged for Thomas’ escape, and study in Paris.
Thomas lived in poverty and was a devoted student. He combined St. Francis’ humility with St. Augustine’s scholarship. When he was 33, he became the professor of religion at the University of Paris, and during twenty years as an active teacher he was incredibly prolific. Thomas was concerned with the relationship between faith and reason. He taught that there were some truths, which reason alone, could reveal, some which revelation alone could reveal and some truths that were revealed but also, which were provable by reason. In December 1273, Thomas had a profound mystical experience. After that time he wrote no more, saying “all I have written seems like straw to me.” Thomas died in the following year, when he became ill on a trip to attend a church council.
“Wonder is the desire for knowledge.”
“There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.”
“Human salvation demands the divine disclosure of truths surpassing reason.”
“Love takes up where knowledge leaves off.”
“A small error in the beginning is a great one in the end.”
“Clearly the person who accepts the Church as an infallible guide will believe whatever the Church teaches.”
“Friendship is the source of the greatest pleasures, and without friends even the most agreeable pursuits become tedious.”
“A man has free choice to the extent that he is rational.”
“Good can exist without evil, whereas evil cannot exist without good.”
“Perfection of moral virtue does not wholly take away the passions, but regulates them.”