This Thursday, the Church will celebrate the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, a Doctor of the Church who was nicknamed “the Dumb Ox” because of his silence and size.
When most people think of St. Thomas Aquinas, they think of the Summa Theologica, however the saint wrote much more than the one thick book in his short lifetime.
Thomas was born in Italy to a well-connected, wealthy family who sent him to be educated by the monks at the abbey of Monte Cassino. The boy was quite astute, and surprised his preceptor by asking, “What is God?”
Eventually the young Aquinas chose to enter the Dominican order. His family, however, did not approve of his action, and took such drastic steps such as having him detained by relatives who were soldiers and sending an impure woman to tempt him. The saint was able to overcome the temptation and was eventually able to pursue his vocation.
He made his profession and was sent to Cologne to study and it was there where he was ordained a priest. His tutor and mentor was Albert the Great, but despite Albert’s greatness, Aquinas surpassed him in wisdom and knowledge. It was also during this time that Thomas earned his nickname the “Dumb Ox” because he was rather silent, and also quite large.
Aquinas was then sent to Paris, where he earned his doctorate at the age of 31. He spent the rest of his life studying, praying, teaching, writing and traveling. Aquinas is said to have been able to dictate to more than one scribe at a time. Thus, of all the works attributed to him, not all of them were written in his own, which explains the 60 works he produced in less than 50 years.
He died on March 7, 1274 and was canonized by John XXII on July 18, 1323 - less than 50 years after his death.
St. Thomas Aquinas is the patron saint of Catholic universities, colleges, and schools.