Thomas Aquinas

Thomas Aquinas
   Theologian, Philosopher and Saint.
   Thomas was born of a noble family in Roccasecca, Italy. He was educated at the famous Benedictine monastery of Monte Cassino and in Naples. Despite family opposition, he joined the Dominican Order in 1244 and then settled in Paris. There he was introduced to the philosophy of Aristotle by Albertus Magnus. Although he spent some time in Cologne and taught in Italy from 1249 to 1259, most of the rest of his life was spent in Paris. He is regarded as the most outstanding and influential theologian of the Middle Ages and among his many works were commentaries on the books of Aristotle, boethius and Pseudodionysius. He produced his Summa Contra Gentiles as a text book for missionaries and his great Summa Theologica remains the fundamental text of Roman Catholic theology. Thomas was living at a time when the works of Aristotle were being rediscovered through the writings of the Arabic philosophers. He took the fundamental concepts of Aristotle and explained Christian doctrines in their light. Most famous are his ‘five ways’ to establish by natural reason the existence of God. At the same time he drew a distinction between the findings of reason and the knowledge that is only revealed by faith (such as the incarnation, the Trinity and the future resurrection), but he stressed that faith doctrines were in no way contrary to reason. Thomas was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1567 and, as late as 1923, the Vatican declared that the study of his work was mandatory for all students of philosophy and theology. Known as ‘Doctor Angelicus’, he is the patron saint of all Roman Catholic universities.
   B. Davies, An Introduction to the Thought of Thomas Aquinas (1992);
   E. Gilson, The Christian Philosophy of Thomas Aquinas (1957);
   J.P. Torrell, Saint Thomas Aquinas (1996).

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