In the traditional calendar March 7th is the Feast Day of St. Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225 – 1274), the Angelic Doctor of the Church and Patron Saint of Catholic schools, scholars, theologians, and booksellers. Studying under St. Albert the Great at Cologne from 1248 to 1252, St. Thomas’s large frame and quiet demeanor led to fellow students dubbing him the “Dumb Ox.” This “Dumb Ox” went on to become arguably the greatest theologian of the Church. Among his voluminous works, Summa contra Gentiles and the Summa Theologiae represent the high points of scholasticism, remaining unsurpassed in scope and quality even today.
Numerous Popes have praised St. Thomas and his work. The words of Pope Leo XIII in calling for a renewal of scholastic philosophy are representative of papal praise of the Angelic Doctor:
While, therefore, We hold that every word of wisdom, every useful thing by whomsoever discovered or planned ought to be received with a willing and grateful mind, We exhort you, Venerable Brethren, in all earnestness to restore the golden wisdom of St. Thomas, and to spread it far and wide for the defense and beauty of the Catholic Faith, for the good of society, and for the advantage of all the sciences. (Leo XIII, On the Restoration of Christian Philosophy Aeterni patris (4 August 1879), 31)
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