St Thomas Aquinas

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Dominican friar and theologian. St Thomas was born to a noble family at Rocca Secca near Aquino. He was educated from the age of five to thirteen at St Benedict's monastery at Monte Cassino. He then studied at the University of Naples for five years, where he met the Dominicans and decided to join their order. His family were so upset by this they imprisoned him for fifteen months in an effort to make him change his mind. They failed.

St Thomas became a monk and went on to study in Paris and Cologne, where he met some of the finest brains of the time. He soon became one of their most famous lecturers himself. So great was his influence that he was asked to teach at universities across Europe. Paris remained his spiritual and intellectual home for most of his life until he set up his great school in Naples.

Besides tirelessly teaching, St Thomas wrote extensively on theology, philosophy and scripture. But he was always very modest and unassuming. Towards the end of his life he experienced a revelation of God, after which he stopped writing. St Thomas said that after what he has seen, everything he had written was 'so much straw'.

St Thomas died in 1274. He was canonised in 1323. and made a Doctor of the Church in 1567. His Summa Theologica was given given special honours at the Council of Trent. The substance of his work, although not all the details, still remains an authentic statement of Christian doctrine today.

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