Angelic Doctor and Dumb Ox

Feast of St Thomas Aquinas, known at different times as Doctor Angelicus; Doctor Communis; Great Synthesizer; The Dumb Ox; The Universal Teacher.

 

His most important and enduring works are the “Summa Theologica”, in which he expounds his systematic theology of the “quinquae viae” (the five proofs of the existence of God), and the “Summa Contra Gentiles”. He studied under Albertus Magnus who defended him: “We call this young man a dumb ox, but his bellowing in doctrine will one day resound throughout the world!” Aquinas later  synthesised Aristotle and  empirical Christian teachings.

On the feast of St. Nicholas in 1273, Aquinas was celebrating Mass when he received a revelation that so affected him that he wrote and dictated no more, leaving his great work the Summa Theologiae unfinished. He reportedly heard a voice coming from a crucifix that said, “Thou hast written well of me, Thomas; what reward wilt thou have?” to which St. Thomas Aquinas replied, “None other than thyself, Lord.”

To Brother Reginald’s (his secretary and friend) expostulations he replied, “The end of my labors has come. All that I have written appears to be as so much straw after the things that have been revealed to me.” When later asked by Reginald to return to writing, Aquinas said, “I can write no more. I have seen things that make my writings like straw.”

 

Detail from an altarpiece portrait of Thomas Aquinas by Carlo Crivelli.

 

Thomas-Aquinas

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