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St. Thomas Aquinas
AKA Thomas Aquinas
Born: 1225
Birthplace: Roccasecca, Naples, Italy
Died: 7-Mar-1274
Location of death: Monastery of Fossanova, Sonnino, Italy
Cause of death: Illness
Remains: Buried, Sant'Eustorgio, Milan, Italy
Gender: Male
Religion: Roman Catholic
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Religion, Philosopher
Nationality: Italy
Executive summary: Catholicism's leading theologian
St. Thomas Aquinas, or Thomas of Aquin or Aquino, scholastic philosopher, known as Doctor Angelicus, Doctor Universalis, was of noble descent, and nearly allied to several of the royal houses of Europe. He was born in 1225 or 1227, at Roccasecca, the castle of his father Landulf, count of Aquino, in the territories of Naples. Having received his elementary education at the monastery of Monte Cassino, he studied for six years at the University of Naples, leaving it in his sixteenth year. While there he probably came under the influence of the Dominicans, who were doing their utmost to enlist within their ranks the ablest young scholars of the age, for in spite of the opposition of his family, which was overcome only by the intervention of Pope Innocent IV, he assumed the habit of St Dominic in his seventeenth year. His superiors, seeing his great aptitude for theological study, sent him to the Dominican school in Cologne, where Albertus Magnus was lecturing on philosophy and theology. In 1245 Albertus was called to Paris, and there Aquinas followed him, and remained with him for three years, at the end of which he graduated as bachelor of theology. In 1248 he returned to Cologne with Albertus, and was appointed second lecturer and magister studentium. This year may be taken as the beginning of his literary activity and public life. Before he left Paris he had thrown himself with ardor into the controversy raging between the university and the Friar-Preachers respecting the liberty of teaching, resisting both by speeches and pamphlets the authorities of the university; and when the dispute was referred to the pope, the youthful Aquinas was chosen to defend his order, which he did with such success as to overcome the arguments of Guillaume de St. Amour, the champion of the university, and one of the most celebrated men of the day. In 1257, along with his friend Bonaventura, he was created doctor of theology, and began to give courses of lectures upon this subject in Paris, and also in Rome and other towns in Italy. From this time onwards his life was one of incessant toil; he was continually engaged in the active service of his order, was frequently travelling upon long and tedious journeys, and was constantly consulted on affairs of state by the reigning pontiff. In 1263 we find him at the chapter of the Dominican order held in London. In 1268 he was lecturing now in Rome and now in Bologna, all the while engaged in the public business of the church. In 1271 he was again in Paris, lecturing to the students, managing the affairs of the church and consulted by the king, Louis VIII, his kinsman, on affairs of state. In 1272 the commands of the chief of his order and the request of King Charles brought him back to the professor's chair at Naples. All this time he was preaching every day, writing homilies, disputations, lectures, and finding time to work hard at his great work the Summa Theologiae. Such rewards as the church could bestow had been offered to him. He refused the archbishopric of Naples and the abbacy of Monte Cassino. In January 1274 he was summoned by Pope Gregory X to attend the council convened at Lyons, to investigate and if possible settle the differences between the Greek and Latin churches. Though suffering from illness, he at once set out on the journey; finding his strength failing on the way, he was carried to the Cistercian monastery of Fossa Nuova, in the diocese of Terracina, where, after a lingering illness of seven weeks, he died on the 7th of March 1274. Dante (Purgatorio, XX 69) asserts that...
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