Today is the feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas! This famous saint was a theologian and Doctor of the Church, and is the patron of universities and students. He was an Italian by birth and a major writer in the fields of philosophy and ethics. Saint Thomas is widely considered to be the foremost theologian and scholar in the history of the Church. To celebrate his feast day, Aquinas and More is featuring several works on sale! Included are works both by and about Saint Thomas Aquinas. In the spirit of this feast day, here are five things you might not know about Saint Thomas Aquinas and his theology!
- Saint Thomas was one of the first Catholic scholars to draw heavily from the writings of Aristotle, whom he referred to as "the Philosopher". Several of Saint Thomas' important works are commentaries on Aristotle's teachings, including Nichomachean Ethics and On the Soul. He was also involved in translating the works of Aristotle from Greek into Latin.
- Saint Thomas concentrated a lot of his writing on ethics, natural law, and epistemology—essentially the study of truth. He wrote that humans, as flawed beings, cannot understand Truth without divine aid. In his comprehensive Summa Theologica, he wrote on ethics and laid out the four Cardinal Virtues: prudence, temperance, justice, and fortitude.
- He also wrote a great deal on politics and social order. Saint Thomas' theories became very influential, as he wrote about humans being social creatures and the necessity of community. His ideas on the most effective forms of government placed emphasis on limiting the potential downsides of the situation; specifically, he believed that monarchies were less susceptible to descending into tyranny than were oligarchies, and that in some cases tyranny should be accepted as a better alternative to anarchy.
- Saint Thomas wrote on the nature of humanity in regards to the soul and the body. He described humans as beings of one material substance, with the soul and body as one. The soul, as Saint Thomas wrote, is perfected in the form of the body, but is spiritual in nature and so is not dependent upon the body.
- Saint Thomas considered theology to be a science. He used scripture, the traditions of the Church, and other scholarly sources—such as Aristotle's works—as materials and applied faith and reason as tools of investigation. He was revolutionary in that he involved the study of nature and reason alongside faith, and viewed the confluence or blending of them to be necessary to find Truth.
Learn more about the theology of Saint Thomas in Practical Theology and The Summa of the Summa, on sale for 20% off until January 31st at Aquinas and More's web store, and follow along with his life in Saint Thomas Aquinas and the Preaching Beggars!