kids encyclopedia robot

Thomas Aquinas facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas by Sandro Botticelli.jpg
Thomas Aquinas by Sandro Botticelli
Doctor of the Church
Born Tommaso d'Aquino
Roccasecca, Kingdom of Sicily
Died 7 March 1274 (aged 48–49)
Fossanova, Papal States
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Anglican Communion
Canonized 18 July 1323, Avignon, Papal States by Pope John XXII
Major shrine Church of the Jacobins, Toulouse, France
Feast 28 January, 7 March (pre-1969 Roman Calendar)
Attributes The Summa Theologiae, a model church, the sun on the chest of a Dominican friar
Patronage Academics; against storms; against lightning; apologists; Aquino, Italy; Belcastro, Italy; book sellers; Catholic academies, schools, and universities; chastity; Falena, Italy; learning; pencil makers; philosophers; publishers; scholars; students; University of Santo Tomas; Sto. Tomas, Batangas; Mangaldan, Pangasinan; theologians

Thomas Aquinas, OP ( Italian: Tommaso d'Aquino, lit.'Thomas of Aquino'; 1225 – 7 March 1274) was an Italian Dominican friar and priest, an influential philosopher and theologian. He is known as the Doctor Angelicus, the Doctor Communis, and the Doctor Universalis. In 1999, John Paul II added a new title to these traditional ones: Doctor Humanitatis.

The Catholic Church honors Thomas Aquinas as a saint and regards him as the model teacher for those studying for the priesthood.

Early life (1225–1244)

Thomas Aquinas was most likely born in the castle of Roccasecca, near Aquino, c. 1225. He was born to the most powerful branch of the family, and Landulf of Aquino was a man of means. While the rest of the family's sons pursued military careers, the family intended for Thomas to follow his uncle into the abbacy; this would have been a normal career path for a younger son of southern Italian nobility.

At the age of five Thomas began his early education at Monte Cassino. Later, he was enrolled at the studium generale (university) established by Frederick in Naples. There, his teacher in arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music was Petrus de Ibernia. It was at this university that Thomas first read the works by Aristotle, Averroes and Maimonides. All of them would influence his theological philosophy.

Castello di Monte San Giovanni Campano 9
The Castle of Monte San Giovanni Campano

At the age of nineteen, Thomas decided to join the Dominican Order. His family was not happy with his decision and tired to physically stop him.

Thomas was held prisoner for almost one year in the family castles at Monte San Giovanni and Roccasecca. Thomas passed this time of trial tutoring his sisters and communicating with members of the Dominican Order.

Saint Thomas Aquinas Diego Velázquez
Thomas is girded by angels with a mystical belt of purity after his proof of chastity. Painting by Diego Velázquez.

Thomas determined to join the Dominicans. By 1244, seeing that all her attempts to dissuade Thomas had failed, his mother Theodora arranged for Thomas to escape at night through his window. In her mind, a secret escape from detention was less damaging than an open surrender to the Dominicans. Thomas was sent first to Naples and then to Rome to meet Johannes von Wildeshausen, the Master General of the Dominican Order.


In 1245, Thomas was sent to study at the Faculty of the Arts at the University of Paris, where he most likely met Dominican scholar Albertus Magnus. When Albertus was sent by his superiors to teach at the new studium generale at Cologne in 1248, Thomas followed him. He declined Pope Innocent IV's offer to appoint him abbot of Monte Cassino as a Dominican.

Thomas taught in Cologne as an apprentice professor (baccalaureus biblicus). In 1252, he returned to Paris to study for a master's degree in theology. He lectured on the Bible as an apprentice professor, and upon becoming a baccalaureus Sententiarum (bachelor of the Sentences) he devoted his final three years of study to commenting on Peter Lombard's Sentences.

In the spring of 1256, Thomas was appointed regent master in theology at Paris. During his tenure from 1256 to 1259, Thomas wrote numerous works. By the end of his regency, Thomas was working on one of his most famous works, Summa contra Gentiles.

In 1259, Thomas completed his first regency at the studium generale and left Paris so that others in his order could gain this teaching experience. He returned to Naples where he was appointed as general preacher by the provincial chapter of 29 September 1260.

In September 1261 he was called to Orvieto as conventual lector. In Orvieto, Thomas completed his Summa contra Gentiles, wrote the Catena aurea (The Golden Chain), and produced works for Pope Urban IV. Some of the hymns that Thomas wrote for the feast of Corpus Christi are still sung today, such as the Pange lingua (whose penultimate verse is the famous Tantum ergo), and Panis angelicus.

In February 1265, the newly elected Pope Clement IV summoned Thomas to Rome to serve as papal theologian. This same year, he was ordered by the Dominican Chapter of Agnani to teach at the studium conventuale at the Roman convent of Santa Sabina, founded in 1222.

While at Santa Sabina, Thomas began his most famous work, the Summa Theologiae. While there he also wrote a variety of other works. In his position as head of the studium, Thomas conducted a series of important disputations on the power of God, which he compiled into his De potentia.

Thomas remained at the studium at Santa Sabina from 1265 until he was called back to Paris in 1268 for a second teaching regency, a position he held until the spring of 1272.

In 1272 Thomas took leave from the University of Paris when the Dominicans from his home province called upon him to establish a studium generale wherever he liked and staff it as he pleased. He chose to establish the institution in Naples, and moved there to take his post as regent master. At Naples, he worked on the third part of the Summa and was giving lectures on various religious topics. He also preached to the people of Naples every day in Lent, 1273. These sermons on the Commandments, the Creed, the Our Father, and Hail Mary were very popular.


In 1054, the Great Schism had occurred between the Catholic Church in the West, and the Eastern Orthodox Church. Looking to find a way to reunite the two, Pope Gregory X convened the Second Council of Lyon to be held on 1 May 1274 and summoned Thomas to attend. At the meeting, Thomas's work for Pope Urban IV concerning the Greeks, Contra errores graecorum, was to be presented.

On his way to the council, riding on a donkey along the Appian Way, he struck his head on the branch of a fallen tree and became seriously ill. He was then quickly escorted to Monte Cassino. After resting for a while, he set out again, but stopped at the Cistercian Fossanova Abbey after again falling ill. The monks nursed him for several days, and as he received his last rites he prayed: "I have written and taught much about this very holy Body, and about the other sacraments in the faith of Christ, and about the Holy Roman Church, to whose correction I expose and submit everything I have written."

He died on 7 March 1274 while giving commentary on the Song of Songs.


Andrea di Bonaiuto. Santa Maria Novella 1366-7 fresco 0001
Triumph of St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor Angelicus, with saints and angels, Andrea di Bonaiuto, 1366. Basilica of Santa Maria Novella, fresco.
The remains of Thomas Aquinas are buried in the Church of the Jacobins in Toulouse.

Fifty years after Thomas's death, on 18 July 1323, Pope John XXII, seated in Avignon, pronounced Thomas a saint.

A monastery at Naples, near Naples Cathedral, shows a cell in which he supposedly lived. His remains were translated from Fossanova to the Church of the Jacobins in Toulouse on 28 January 1369. Between 1789 and 1974, they were held in the Basilica of Saint-Sernin. In 1974, they were returned to the Church of the Jacobins, where they have remained ever since.

When he was canonized, his feast day was inserted in the General Roman Calendar for celebration on 7 March, the day of his death. Since this date commonly falls within Lent, the 1969 revision of the calendar moved his memorial to 28 January, the date of the translation of his relics to Church of the Jacobins, Toulouse.

Thomas Aquinas is honored with a feast day in some churches of the Anglican Communion with a Lesser Festival on 28 January.


Aquinas was a prominent proponent of natural theology. He was the father of a school of thought known as Thomism. He tought that God is the source of the light of natural reason and the light of faith.

Thomas believed that the existence of God is self-evident in itself, but not to us. He believed that the existence of God can be demonstrated. He argued that faith and reason, science and theology could coexist. Aquinas also wrote about various philosophical topics. He also believed that man's purpose is to develop himself towards God rather than attempting to escape God. Aquinas considered the monarchy and aristocracy to be fair political systems.

He has been described as "the most influential thinker of the medieval period" and "the greatest of the medieval philosopher-theologians". His ideas especially influenced Western thought and modern philosophy, especially ethics, natural law, metaphysics, and political theory.

Thomas Aquinas quotes

  • "There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship."
  • "Three things are necessary for the salvation of man: to know what he ought to believe; to know what he ought to desire; and to know what he ought to do."
  • "Love takes up where knowledge leaves off."
  • "The things that we love tell us what we are."
  • "Friendship is the source of the greatest pleasures, and without friends even the most agreeable pursuits become tedious."
  • "All the efforts of the human mind cannot exhaust the essence of a single fly."
  • "Wonder is the desire for knowledge."
  • "Distinctions drawn by the mind are not necessarily equivalent to distinctions in reality."


His best-known works are:

  • the Disputed Questions on Truth (1256–1259),
  • the Summa contra Gentiles (1259–1265),
  • and the unfinished Summa Theologica, or Summa Theologiae (1265–1274).

He also commented on Scripture and on Aristotle.

Interesting facts about Thomas Aquinas

  • Thomas is the author of eucharistic hymns, which form a part of the church's liturgy.
  • In modern times, the study of his works is a core of the required program of study for those seeking ordination as priests or deacons, and for other students of the sacred disciplines (philosophy, Catholic theology, church history, liturgy, and canon law).
  • Because Thomas was quiet and didn't speak much, some of his fellow students thought he was slow.
  • Thomas has been traditionally ascribed with the ability to levitate.

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Tomás de Aquino para niños

kids search engine
Thomas Aquinas Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.