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Life and Works of St. Dominic and St.

Thomas Aquinas

1 ST. DOMINIC DE GUZMAN


Dominic De Guzman was born in Caleruega, Spain. There was a story that before his birth his
barren mother made a pilgrimage to the Abbey at Silos, and dreamed that a dog leapt from her
womb carrying a torch in its mouth, and "seemed to set the earth on fire". This story drew deep
meaning from the fact that his order became known, after his name, as the Dominican order,
Dominicanus in Latin which a play on words interpreted as Domini canis: "Dog of the Lord."
Dominic was educated in the schools of Palencia (they became a university soon afterwards)
where he devoted six years to the arts and four to theology. In 1191, when Spain was desolated
by famine, young Dominic gave away his money and sold his clothes, furniture and even precious
manuscripts to feed the hungry. In 1215, Dominic established himself, with six followers, in a
house given by Peter Seila, a rich resident of Toulouse. Dominic saw the need for a new type of
organization to address the spiritual needs of the growing cities of the era, one that would
combine dedication and systematic education, with more organizational flexibility than either
monastic orders or the secular clergy. He subjected himself and his companions to the monastic
rules of prayer and penance.
Dominic saw the need for a new type of organization to address the spiritual needs of the
growing cities of the era, one that would combine dedication and systematic education, with
more organizational flexibility than either monastic orders or the secular clergy so he, together
with his six followers, in 1215, subjected theirselves to the monasteric rules of prayer and
penance. In the same year, Dominic went to Rome to secure the approval of the Pope, Innocent III
and a year later the Pope finally granted written authority in December 1216 and January 1217
for an order to be named "The Order of Preachers", popularly known as the Dominican Order. In
the same year, the year of the Fourth Lateran Council, Dominic and Foulques went to Rome to
secure the approval of the Pope, Innocent III. Dominic returned to Rome a year later, and was
finally granted written authority in December 1216 and January 1217 by the new pope, Honorius
III for an order to be named "The Order of Preachers" ("Ordo Praedicatorum", or "O.P.," popularly
known as the Dominican Order).

2 ST. THOMAS AQUINAS


Thomas Aquinas was born in a hilltop castle at Rocca Secca not far from the Benedictine
Abbey at Monte Cassino where his education would first commence. When he was transferred to
Frederick IIs University of Naples, he was particularly drawn to those that emphasized a life of
spiritual service, in contrast with the more traditional views and sheltered lifestyle he'd observed
at the Abbey of Monte Cassino. Later on he was introduced to the new Dominican order and was
influenced by his colleagues to join the Dominican order and was to go to Rome, but due to his
familys reputation, his mother disagreed and later on was kidnapped by his own brothers. He
was under family house arrest for two years, and was also tempted by a prostitute, were used to
dissuade Thomas Aquinas commitment to the Dominican order and way of life. Due in part to
political concerns over his defiance and a mothers eventual consent, Theodora allowed him to
escape; legend has it that he was lowered from his window in a basket into the arms of fellow
Dominicans who were immediately impressed with the competence of his prolonged independent
study while in custody and took him to Rome.
His university years took place during a period of important growth and development in
educational pedagogy in general. Some of his writings during this time directly or indirectly
addressed such challenges and eventual attacks. He was ordained in Cologne, Germany, in 1250,

and went on to teach theology at the University of Paris. Under the tutelage of St. Albert the
Great, St. Thomas Aquinas subsequently earned his doctorate in theology. Consistent with the
holy hermit's prediction, Thomas proved an exemplary scholar, though, ironically, his modesty
sometimes led his classmates to misperceive him as dim-witted. After reading Thomas's thesis
and thinking it brilliant, his professor, St. Albert the Great, proclaimed in Thomas's defense, "We
call this young man a dumb ox, but his bellowing in doctrine will one day resound throughout the
world!
After completing his education, St. Thomas Aquinas devoted himself to a life of traveling,
writing, teaching, public speaking and preaching. Religious institutions and universities alike
yearned to benefit from the wisdom of "The Christian Apostle."
As a writer, St. Thomas Aquinas penned close to 60 known works. Handwritten copies of his
works were distributed to libraries across Europe. His philosophical and theological writings
spanned a wide spectrum of topics, including commentaries on the Bible and discussions of
Aristotle's writings on natural philosophy. He is not just a writer, but also a teacher in Cologne. In
1256, while serving as regent master in theology at the University of Paris, Aquinas wrote
Impugnantes Dei cultum et religionem, or Against Those Who Assail the Worship of God and
Religion, a treatise defending mendicant orders that William of Saint-Amour had criticized.
Written from 1265 to 1274, St. Thomas Aquinas's Summa Theologica is largely philosophical in
nature and was followed by Summa Contra Gentiles, which, while still philosophical, comes across
to many critics as apologetic of the beliefs he expressed in his earlier works. St. Thomas Aquinas
is also known for writing commentaries examining the principles of natural philosophy espoused
in Aristotle's writings: On the Heavens, Meteorology, On Generation and Corruption, On the Soul,
Nicomachean Ethics and Metaphysics, among others.
Shortly after his death, St. Thomas Aquinas's theological and philosophical writings rose to
great public acclaim and reinforced a strong following among the Dominicans. Universities,
seminaries and colleges came to replace Lombard's Four Books of Sentences with Summa
Theologica as the leading theology textbook. The influence of St. Thomas Aquinas's writing has
been so great, in fact, that an estimated 6,000 commentaries on his work exist to date.