The “Summa” is composed of 14 volumes in which the philosophical, theological, and scientific knowledge of his time — with a marked influence of great Greek philosophers such as Aristotle — converge. This work would become, centuries later, one of the main texts consulted during the Council of Trent and would initiate an explosion of commentaries, developments, and reflections that continue today.
The thought of St. Thomas Aquinas, therefore, is considered the pinnacle of “scholasticism” — the cultural movement to which Thomas belonged — and of all Christian doctrine.
A key part of the development of the “Summa Theologica” are the “five ways to demonstrate the existence of God” (classified as “proofs”), in which Thomas argues in favor of reason as a faculty capable of affirming, with certainty, that God exists; and that it is possible to know him, at least incipiently, in a rational way from nature as an effect or creation.
In love with Christ
St. Thomas Aquinas is usually recognized for his intellectual greatness, but he is not always recognized for his piety or prayerfulness. But it was he who composed the Eucharistic hymns “Pange Lingua” and “Tantum Ergo” as well as other chants incorporated into the liturgical tradition. Both hymns were commissioned by the pope for the feast of Corpus Christi. Likewise, it is generally forgotten that his devotion to the Virgin Mary was such that in his notebooks he always wrote “Hail Mary” and to her he dedicated a treatise on the Hail Mary prayer.
A certain tradition holds that Jesus Christ appeared to him and said: “Thomas, you have spoken well of me, what do you want in return?” To which St. Thomas replied: “Lord, the only thing I want is to love you, to love you very much, and to please you more and more.”
At the end of his days, Thomas was sent by Pope Gregory X to the Council of Lyons but fell ill on the way. He was received by the Cistercian monastery of Fosanova, where he remained until his death. Before dying, he received the Eucharist and said: “Now I receive you, my Jesus, who paid with your blood the price for the redemption of my soul. All the teachings I have written manifest my faith in Jesus Christ and my love for the holy Catholic Church, of which I profess myself an obedient son.”
St. Thomas Aquinas died 750 years ago, on March 7, 1274, at the age of 49. His body was taken to the Cathedral of Toulouse on Jan. 28 of the following year. He was declared doctor of the Church in 1567.
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.