Saint Thomas Aquinas


I started 2015 with a bang and launched into a series of lectures called Life in The Middle Ages (1000-1500), the lectures were given by Joseph Lynch, Lance Wilcock’s, Katherine French and Dennis Martin. All experts in Middle Age history.

I discovered a lady named Marjorie Kemp who was a devout Christian and although she was illiterate managed to write the first ever autobiography in English. Well, she didn’t actually write it, she dictated and a scribe wrote for her.

The lectures also covered Jeffery Chaucer’s poetry, Chaucer was a very accomplished man and wrote much about the corruption in the Catholic Church. He was a Politician, a Solicitor, a Judge and a Poet – WOW!

During the middle ages, many Christians made pilgrimages to The Holy Land (then Palestine). Along the way they collected relics, and other memorabilia as keepsake. Some relics were macabre to say the least, nevertheless they were highly valued as used as indulgences.

The arts were prevalent, due to a predominately illiterate audience. The Gospel was preached from pulpits but more emphasis was placed on the visual: plays; icons; statues; sculptures; stained glass imagery etc.

Some of the other topics covered in the lectures were Thomas Beckett, Francis of Assisi and Thomas Aquinas. Unfortunately the lectures ended with last of the Byzantines and the invasion of the Turks (1453 AD).

Based on what I’ve learnt, I decided that Thomas Aquinas sounded interesting, and so I will be reading his life story next.




Thomas Aquinas for Armchair Theologians by Timothy Renick.

 “The human mind can understand truth only by thinking.” Thomas Aquinas.


Apparently we owe much of our understanding of Human Rights, Sex, Warfare and International Law to Aquinas. His influence on the Catholic Church was massive, although initially his writings were greeted with some skepticism and at one stage they were even banned. Pope Leo the 13th accepted his writing in 1879, by claiming Faith and Reason need not be enemies.

During Aquinas’s lifetime (1225-1274) Europe was emerging out of the dark ages (13th Century). Learning was revived [debatable], Oxford was established (1200) and Cambridge (1204). This period also saw an increased interest in Reason. Aquinas dedicated his life to the development of Reason, which (I think) is trying to explain a rational basis for the existence of God. Good luck with that one!

The legacy Aquinas left us was The Summa Theologiae, which is the most influential work in Western Literature. It is over 2 Million words long and is the longest Thesis ever written. Unfortunately, he never finished it, at just 49 years of age, something happened to him and one day he just stopped writing, he put his pens away and died that same year. Some think he may have had a stroke.

Aquinas was a rather boring man, he ate, he slept, he wrote and he ate some more. Sounds familiar…

He was given into the Benedictine Order when he was five years old, but choose the Dominican Order when he grew older. The Dominican’s were considered a bit of a cult because of their vows of poverty and chastity. Aquinas’s Italian family became quite concerned about his choices, and they thought if only they could make him sin with a woman (have sex that is) he would have to leave the Dominican’s and return to the Dominicans.

They locked him in room with a prostitute and hoped for the best. Aquinas chased the prostitute around the room with a smoldering hot poker! Just when I thought the book was getting interesting I was reminded by the Author to get my mind out of the gutter… it was smoldering hot poker from the fireplace – silly. Oh, that poker!  Needless to say, Aquinas remained a virgin and anti-anti woman.

Anyway, it was the hot poker incident and the herring incident (you don’t want to know) that eventually made him a Saint in the eyes of the Catholic Church. If only I could turn back time!

There’s a lot of babble, about his theories for justifying Faith and Reason, and his later influence on The Thinkers, of which he was The Original Thinker. He had a Fantastic brain, it worked like a huge library, and he remembered everything he read.

At one stage I thought I should/could tackle The Summa Theologiae, but common sense has prevailed and I’m settling for another great Thinker, Philosopher, Mathematician, Scientist and Theologian – Maimonides.

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