Saturday, 7 March 2015

The Legend of St. Thomas Aquinas - Tridentine Breviary

The following readings are taken from the office of Matins for the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, which is today (March 7). 
Reading 4
That splendid adornment of the Christian world and light of the Church, blessed Thomas of Aquino, was the son of Landulph, Earl of Aquino, and Theodora of Naples, his wife, being nobly descended on both sides. (He was born in the year of salvation 1226,) and even as an infant gave token of the love which he afterwards bore to the Mother of God. He found a little bit of paper upon which was written the Angelic Salutation, and held it firm in his hand in spite of the efforts of his wet-nurse; his mother took it away by force, but he cried and stretched out for it, and when she gave it back to him, he swallowed it. When he was only four years old, he was given into the keeping of the Benedictine monks of Monte Cassino. He was thence sent to Naples to study, and there, while very young, entered the Order of Friars Preachers. This displeased his mother and brothers, and he left Naples for Paris. When he was on his journey his brothers met him, and carried him off by force to the castle of Monte San Giovanni, where they imprisoned him in the keep. Here they used every means to break him of his intention, and at last brought a woman into his room to try to overcome his purity. The lad drove her out with a fire-brand. When he was alone he knelt down before the figure of the Cross, and there he fell asleep. As he slept, it seemed to him that angels came and girded his loins and from this time he never felt the least sexual inclination. His sisters came to the castle to beseech him to give up his purpose of leaving the world, but he so worked on them by his godly exhortations, that both of them ever after set no value on earthly things, and busied themselves rather with heavenly.

Reading 5
Being let down from a window, Thomas escaped out of the castle of Monte San Giovanni, and returned to Naples. Thence he went first to Rome, and then to Paris, in company of Brother John the German, then Master-General of the Friars Preachers. At Paris he studied Philosophy and Theology under Albert the Great Doctor. At the age of twenty-five years he took the degree of Master, and gave public disquisitions on the Philosophers and Theologians with great distinction. He never set himself to read or write till he had first prayed, and when he was about to take in hand a hard passage of the Holy Scriptures, he fasted also. Hence he was wont to say to Brother Reginald his comrade, that whatever he knew, he had learnt, not so much from his own labour and study, as from the inspiration of God. At Naples he was once kneeling in very earnest prayer before an image of Christ Crucified, when he heard a voice which said Thomas, thou hast written well of Me what reward wilt thou that I give thee? He answered: Lord, thyself. He studied most carefully the works of the Fathers, and there was no kind of author in which he was not well read. His own writings are so wonderful, both because of their number, their variety, and the clearness of his explanations of hard things, that his rich and pure teaching, marvellously consonant with revealed truth, is an admirable antidote for the errors of all times.

Reading 6
The Supreme Pontiff Urban IV sent for him to Rome, and at his command he composed the Church Office for the feast of Corpus Christi. The Pope could not persuade him to accept any dignity. Pope Clement IV. also offered him the Archbishoprick of Naples, but he refused it. He did not neglect the preaching of the Word of God. Once while he was giving a course of sermons in the Basilica of St Peter, during the octave of Easter, a woman who had an issue of blood was healed by touching the hem of his garment. He was sent by blessed Gregory X. to the Council of Lyons, but fell sick on his way to the Abbey of Fossa Nuovo, and there during his illness he made an exposition of the Song of Songs. There he died on the th day of March, in the year of salvation 1274, aged fifty years. He was distinguished for miracles even after his death, and on proof of these Pope John XXII. added his name to those of the Saints in the year 1323. His body was afterwards carried to Toulouse by command of blessed Urban V. He has been compared to an angel, both on account of his innocency and of his intellectual power, and has hence been deservedly termed the Angelic Doctor. The use of which title as applied to him was approved by the authority of holy Pius V.

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