Brother John Raymond
St. Thomas Aquinas was declared the patron of all universities,
colleges and schools by Pope Leo XIII in 1880. This would certainly have
surprised his fellow students in Cologne, Germany who gave him the
nickname "the dumb ox" in 1245. He was mistaken by them for dumb because
he was quiet most of the time and was quite large.
In his youth St. Thomas was fortunate to be brought by his parents
to the Benedictines at the abbey of Monte Cassino. He studied there from
the age of 5 until he was 13. In 1239 he attended the University of Naples.
There he met the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) and, at the age of 19,
received the habit of this Order. His vocation to a new and mendicant
Order was not appreciated by his family. They wanted him to be a
Benedictine. St. Thomas was kidnapped by his brothers and kept prisoner
for two years. When he returned to the Order he was sent to complete his
studies under St. Albert the Great.
From 1259 to 1268 St. Thomas lectured and preached in many Italian
towns. During these years he began his most famous work, the Summa
Theologica. While in Paris in 1269 he was consulted by a university to
decide a theological question concerning the Blessed Sacrament. His answer
was accepted by the university first and later by the whole Church. He was
commissioned by Pope Urban IV (1362-1370) to compose liturgical texts for
the new Feast of Corpus Christi. It is from this work that we were given
the following beautiful prayer-hymn about the Blessed Sacrament:
Tantum Ergo Sacramentum
Down in adoration falling,
Lo! The Sacred Host we hail.
Lo! o'er ancient forms departing,
Newer rites of Grace prevail:
Faith for all defects supplying,
Where the feeble senses fail.
To The Everlasting Father
And The Son Who reigns on high,
With The Spirit blessed proceeding
Forth, from Each eternally,
Be salvation, honor, blessing,
Might and endless majesty. Amen.
On the feast of St. Nicholas in 1273, while celebrating Holy Mass,
St. Thomas received a revelation which affected him so much that he wrote
no more. He said after this experience "The end of my labors has come. All
that I have written appears to be straw in comparison to the things that
have been revealed to me."
On a journey to Lyons he became ill and was taken to a Cistercian
abbey at Fossanova, Italy. He died there on March 7, 1274. Let us remember
to invoke this great Doctor of the Church on January 28th to give us a
share in his great love of the Holy Eucharist. Also, let us sing or recite
the Tantum Ergo Sacramentum often to Jesus really and truly present in the
Most Blessed Sacrament.