Saint Thomas Aquinas was a renowned theologian, educator, composer, and philosopher. Thomas Aquinas was born in Italy in 1225 (only four years after Saint Dominic’s death). In 1244, he entered the Dominicans, and, in 1245, he moved to Paris (and later to Naples, Rome, and Cologne) to study, teach, and write.
Written toward the end of his life, Thomas Aquinas’s most noted work is the Summa Theologica, in which he posits five arguments for the existence of God. But, Saint Thomas’s genius is attributed to much more than a single work. He is honored as a Doctor of the Church, and is the patron saint of scholars, schools, and students. Nearly eight-hundred years after his death, his legacy continues to teach much about grappling with truth, learning, and how both are essential to faith.
As a young adult, Saint Thomas Aquinas helped shaped my spirituality, study, and my nursing ministry,” Dominican Sister of Hope Diane Trotta, O.P. says.
She’s not alone. Many of our sisters have been deeply influenced by the work of Thomas Aquinas. Below, we share the unique ways Thomas Aquinas’s legacy has a lasting influence today.
1. Focus on the Common Good: We Are All One
2. Preaching that Individuals are Multifaceted, i.e. the Principle of Totality
3. Constantly Pursuing Truth
As career educators, many of our sisters have sought to mimic Thomas Aquinas’s persistent search for truth. Although Thomas Aquinas is remembered as a writer, a thinker (or, in less-flattering accounts, a fat man), he is seldom depicted as a wrestler. Yet, Thomas Aquinas was just that: he wrestled with truths and engaged with them.Thomas Aquinas considered truth, critiqued it, and put pieces together such that something with more truth came out in the end. Whether it’s in relation to our faith beliefs, sacred texts, an academic discipline, the current political scene, or other aspects of our world, we, too, are called to wrestle with truth, to put pieces together, and to arrive at greater truth in the end. As educators, our sisters sought to give their students that same deep desire and goal. In truth, the point of education isn’t about grades or degrees. As Thomas Aquinas reminds us, “Jesus says that He came into the world to ‘testify to the truth,'” Sister Catherine Walsh writes. “Seeking truth requires intense listening; deep compassion and selfless openness. Not easy. But so necessary.”
4. But, Above All, Prayer is Most Important