The Life of Thomas Aquinas: The “Angelic Doctor”

The Philosophy of Thomas Aquinas, a beginners course by Dr. Jonathan Dolhenty


Thomas Aquinas, born of a noble family in Rocca Secca, near Aquino in 1225, was to complete the magnificent synthesis of Scholasticism.

As a very young boy, he went to Monte Cassino, the celebrated Benedictine monastery which at the time was headed by one of his uncles. He displayed such brilliance that the monks advised his father to send him to the University of Naples, where he could receive a more advanced education.

While in Naples, he entered the Dominican Order. His mother, far from favorable to this move, hastened to Naples; but the Dominicans, fearing her opposition, had already send Thomas to Rome in the hope that he would eventually be able to reach Paris or Cologne.

His brothers captured him on the road and held him prisoner in the fortress of San Giovanni at Rocca Secca, where he remained almost two years while his family tried to dissuade him from following his vocation.

Finally released, he was sent to Rome, then to Paris and Cologne where he studied in the school of Albertus Magnus. There he was introduced to the study of Aristotelianism and completed his theological studies.

In 1252, Thomas Aquinas was sent to Paris to further his studies and then to teach, which he continued to do until 1260. In that year he returned to the Roman province of his Order, where he was given various offices of administration and education in the province.

In 1269 he was again in Paris, where he carried on the controversy against the Averroism of Siger of Brabant. In 1272 he went to Naples to assume the chair of theology at the university there. At the beginning of 1274 he set out with a companion for the Council of Lyons, but died en route, at the Cistercian monastery of Fossa Nuova near Terracina, on March 7, at the early age of forty-nine. He was proclaimed a saint by the Church, and by posterity has been acclaimed as the Angelic Doctor.

Dr. Jonathan Dolhenty was the Founder and President of The Center for Applied Philosophy and the Radical Academy, and is Honorary Philosophy Editor at Self-Educated American.