Thomas wrote Expositio super Isaiam ad litteram , Postilla

Thomas is believed to have been born in the castle of Roccasecca in the old
county of the Kingdom of Sicily, which is now known as the Lazio region of Italy,
in 1225. His parents were well-off, but as the youngest son Thomas was
expected to enter the monastery. At 5-years-old, Thomas began his education at
Monte Cassino, where he remained until the military conflict between Emperor
Frederick II and Pope Gregory IX reached the abbey. He was then transferred
and enrolled at the studium generale in Naples. It is believed that Thomas was
introduced to his philosophical influences – Aristotle, Averroes, and Maimonides –
at the university, where he also met John of St. Julian, a Dominican preacher,
who influenced him to join the recently founded Dominican Order.

When Thomas’ family learned of his decision, his mother Theodora arranged for
him to be moved to Paris. When Thomas was travelling to Rome, his brothers
captured him and returned him to their parents at the castle of Monte San
Giovanni Campano.

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Following the conclusion of his education, Thomas taught in Cologne as an
apprentice professor and instructed students on the books of the Old Testament.
It was during this time he wrote Expositio super Isaiam ad litteram , Postilla super
Ieremiam , and Postilla super Threnos . In 1252, Thomas returned to Paris to earn

his master’s degree in theology. As an apprentice professor, he lectured on the
Bible and devoted his final three years of his education to Peter Lombard’s
Sentences . In 1259, Thomas completed his first regency and returned to Naples,
where he was appointed general preacher. In September 1261, he was asked to
lecture in Orvieto, and during his stay he finished Summa contra Gentiles , as well
as Catena aurea , and Contra errores graecorum .

He continued to write and released several more books until 1268, when he was
called to Paris for a second teaching regency. He was named regent master
again, and stayed until 1272. During this time, he wrote De virtutibus and De
aeternitate mundi . At the conclusion of his regency, the Dominicans called
Thomas to establish a university wherever he wanted with a staff of whomever
he wished. He established the university in Naples and took the regent master
post. In 1273 Thomas was seen by the sacristan Domenic of Caserta to be
crying and levitating in prayer before an icon of the crucified Christ at the
Dominican convent of Naples, in the Chapel of Saint Nicholas. Following this
exchange, something happened but Thomas never wrote or spoke of it. He
abandoned his routine and, when begged to return to work, replied, “I cannot,
because all that I have written seems like straw to me.” In May of 1274, Thomas
was called to the Second Council of Lyon, where his works for Pope Urban IV
would be presented. While journeying to the meeting, Thomas hit his head on the
branch of a fallen tree and fell ill. He was escorted to Monte Cassino to recover,
then he set out again.

Unfortunately, he became ill once again and stopped at the Cistercian
Fossanova Abbey, where the monks cared for him for several days. He received
his last rites and prayed, “I receive Thee, ransom of my sou. For love of Thee
have I studied and kept vigil, toiled, preached and taught…” Thomas died on
March 7, 1274 during a commentary on the Song of Songs. Thomas’ remains
were placed in the Church of the Jacobins in Toulouse on January 28, 1369. It is
not known who beatified Thomas, but on July 18, 1323, Pope John XXII
canonized him.

His original feast day was March 7, the day of his death, but because the date
often falls within Lent, in 1969, a revision of the Roman Calendar changed his
feast day to January 28, the date his relics were moved to Toulouse. Pope Pius
V declared Saint Thomas a doctor of the church, saying Thomas was “the most
brilliant light of the Church.” Saint Thomas’ remains were moved to the Basilique
de Sant-Sernin, Toulouse between 1789 and 1974.

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