Thomas Aquinas, Saint

(c. 1225-1274)
   Saint Thomas Aquinas is considered one of the greatest representatives of Scholasticism. He was born near Aquino, Italy, to a noble family related to the royal house of France and he entered the Benedictine Monastery of Monte Cassino at the age of five. In 1239, he attended the University of Naples and five years later joined the Dominicans in that city. His family was so opposed to his decision that they kidnapped and imprisoned him for 15 months in an attempt to persuade him to renounce his religious calling. Their efforts were futile as, once released, the saint rejoined the Dominicans and taught for them in Naples, Orvieto, Rome, and other major Italian cities. Pope Gregory X invited St. Thomas to discuss the reunion of the Greek and Latin churches at the General Council of Lyons, but he died on his way there. He was canonized in 1323 by Pope John XXII, and declared one of the Doctors of the Church in 1567. His writings, which include the Summa Theologica, Quaestiones Disputatae, and Summa contra Gentiles, became the basis for modern Catholic theology. In art, St. Thomas is portrayed often. In the Triumph of St. Thomas of c. 1340, painted for the Church of Santa Caterina in Pisa and attributed to Francesco Traini or Lippo Memmi, he receives wisdom from Christ, the Evangelists, and the philosophers of the ancient world, including Plato and Aristotle. The most important episodes of his life are the subject of the decorations by Filippino Lippi in the Carafa Chapel at Santa Maria sopra Minerva, Rome (beg. 1489). He also figures prominently in the Strozzi Chapel at Santa Maria Novella (1355-1357), the Dominican church of Florence, as one of the most notable representatives of the order.

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

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