You may know St. Thomas Aquinas as the big-time theologian, a Doctor of the Church with the nickname “Angelic Doctor.” But did you know he’s also the patron of pencil makers? Read on for more fascinating facts!
His family imprisoned him
St. Thomas Aquinas was born in 1226 into a rich family and was expected to become the affluent abbot of Monte Cassino. His family found out that Thomas had secretly joined the Dominican Order, which had been recently founded. The Dominicans didn’t have much money at all, and his family imprisoned him in a tower for a whole year! His mother and brothers did everything they could to dissuade him, even sending a prostitute to his room to seduce him! After Thomas chased her out with a flaming branch, his family realized they couldn’t change his mind, and his mother “allowed” him to escape from a tower window. And maybe you thought you had problems discerning your vocation!
He was bullied
After his imprisonment, Thomas was sent to the University of Paris to pursue his doctorate. While studying under St. Albert the Great, he was dubbed the “Dumb Ox” by his fellow students, in part because he was a pretty big guy, but mainly because he hardly spoke at all! St. Albert, realizing Thomas’ true worth, said, “You call him the Dumb Ox, but in his teaching, he will one day produce such a bellowing that it will be heard throughout the world.” It’s true: St. Thomas Aquinas’ great work, the Summa Theologiae, is still studied all over the world, and it’s widely considered one of the most important Catholic theological works of all time.
He wrote hymns
In 1263, an extraordinary thing happened to Peter of Prague, a priest who doubted the True Presence in the Eucharist. As he was saying Mass, he said the words of consecration, and real blood began to fall from the host! When word of this miracle reached Pope Urban IV, he commissioned St. Thomas to write a special Mass (which we know today as Corpus Christi) and an office for the Liturgy of the Hours, from which we get the hymn, Pange Lingua. Never heard of it? Well, if you’ve been to adoration, you’ve probably sang the last two stanzas of it: Tantum Ergo, or known in English as Down in Adoration Falling!
He walked across Europe
If you thought he was called the “Dumb Ox” because he was big and inactive, think again! St. Thomas is the patron of traveling through Europe because he (literally) walked across it multiple times. In fact, he was walking from Rome to the Second Council of Lyons, France, in 1274, when he fell sick from a brain injury. He died a peaceful, holy death on March 7th, 1274, at the age of 48. His feast day in the ordinary liturgical calendar is January 28.
Prayer for Students
St. Thomas Aquinas is the perfect patron to ask for help in almost every student-related situation, and we even have the prayer he said before studying!
Come, Holy Spirit, Divine Creator, true source of light and fountain of wisdom! Pour forth your brilliance upon my dense intellect, dissipate the darkness which covers me, that of sin and of ignorance. Grant me a penetrating mind to understand, a retentive memory, method and ease in learning, the lucidity to comprehend, and abundant grace in expressing myself. Guide the beginning of my work, direct its progress, and bring it to successful completion. This I ask through Jesus Christ, true God and true man, living and reigning with You and the Father, forever and ever.(Source)