Today, Dominicans throughout the world, celebrate the Feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas, arguably the most gifted philosopher and theologian the Church has ever known. The first reading from the Book of Wisdom could very easily be placed on the lips of Saint Thomas, who devoted his entire life to Prayer, Study and Teaching:
I prayed, and understanding was given me;
I entreated, and the spirit of Wisdom came to me.
I esteemed her more than sceptres and thrones,
compared to her, I held riches as nothing;
I reckoned no priceless stone to be her peer,
for compared with her, all gold is a pinch of sand,
and beside her silver ranks as mud.
Saint Thomas was a student of Saint Albert the Great, and was assigned by his superiors to teach at several of the most prominent universities in Europe.
Pope Gregory X appointed Thomas as Papal Delegate to the General Council of Lyons but he died en route at the Cistercian Abbey of Fossa Nuova on 7th March 1275. As he lay dying, Thomas said: “I leave all of my writings to the judgment and wisdom of the Church. She alone has the authority to determine their value.”
This final act of humility was characteristic of Saint Thomas. He may have shone like a star in the academic world, but his life of prayer, study and teaching had but one purpose: to bring ordinary people to know and to love the truth incarnate in the Person of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
May we who honour Saint Thomas today come to imitate his spirit of humility and simplicity and, with him, seek to know, to love and to serve Christ always.
Saint Thomas Aquinas, pray for us.