Thomas Aquinas was born in 1225 in Aquino, Italy at Roccasecca, in the castle of his father Landulf, Count of Aquino and his wife Theodora, the Countess of Teano. Aquino lies about 70 miles southeast of Rome in the Lazio region of central Italy.
Due to his great intelligence and serious demeanor, Thomas was sent at the age of five to be educated by the monks of Monte Cassino, the monastery founded by St. Benedict of Nursia. The monks later encouraged his father to send him at the tender age of 10 to the University of Naples. His quietness caused his classmates to nickname him the “Dumb Ox,” but by the age of 23 he was teaching philosophy at the University of Cologne, and published commentaries on Aristotle. A few years later, he was ordained a priest of the Dominican religious order.
Aquinas is famous for his works Summa contra Gentiles and Summa Theologiae, along with his Five Proofs for the Existence of God. One of 37 Doctors of the Church, Aquinas is called the “Angelic Doctor” because of his great purity and his extensive writing on angels, and the “Common Doctor” because “he makes accessible the mysteries of the faith to the common man.” One of his primary teachings was that the Catholic faith was reasonable. And that this faith is in unity with philosophy and all other branches of knowledge.
St. John Paul II, in his letter “Fides et Ratio,” said of St. Thomas “In an age when Christian thinkers were rediscovering the treasures of ancient philosophy, and more particularly of Aristotle, Thomas had the great merit of giving pride of place to the harmony which exists between faith and reason. Both the light of reason and the light of faith come from God, he argued; hence there can be no contradiction between them.”
St. Thomas died at the Cistercian Fossanova Abbey, in Latina, Italy on March 7, 1274, was canonized in 1323, and made a Doctor of the Church in 1567. His body is buried in the Church of the Jacobins in Toulouse, France, but relics of his reside in the Basilica of San Domenico Maggiore in Naples, Italy. His feast day is January 28th. Learn more about St. Thomas Aquinas by clicking here and here.