St. Thomas Aquinas is known as “the Angelic Doctor” because of his innocence and his genius. He lived during the thirteenth century; a time of extraordinary intellectual activity. In the enthusiastic pursuit of learning, students flocked by thousands to the great universities. Aristotle was taken to be the representative of wisdom but Aristotle and the Gospel were not always in agreement.
It was amidst the confusion of this time that St. Thomas Aquinas worked to mark out the limits of Christian philosophy and to form the separate materials of dogmatic, moral and speculative theology into one structure, a book titled Summa Theologica. Aquinas continues to touch us even today because it is his philosophy and theology that are used to teach the Church.
St. Thomas Aquinas has long been considered to be the truest guide to understanding Catholic doctrine. Although he knew the entire Bible by heart, remembered everything he had ever heard and could dictate to 3 or 4 secretaries at once on different topics, St. Thomas did not rely on his own intelligence, but prayed earnestly before reading, writing or entering into discussion. He spent a bare minimum of time in sleep in order to have more hours in front of the Blessed Sacrament. St. Thomas prepared for his Mass each day by Confession, then attended a second Mass afterwards in thanksgiving, often as an altar server.
He was declared the “Universal Doctor of the Church” in 1923 by Pope Pius XI. He is the Patron of all Catholic universities, academies, colleges and schools. Despite his towering intellect, arguably the greatest theological master in the history of Christianity, St. Thomas Aquinas remains an inspiring, fascinating and much beloved Saint.
Source credit: St. Thomas Aquinas, Universal Doctor of the Church, Tan Publishers