St. Thomas Aquinas, Patron Saint of People Who Love Angels

Life and Miracles of Saint Connected to Angels, Teachers, Students, Etc.

"Saint Thomas Aquinas" by Carlo Crivelli, circa the 15th century / public domain

St. Thomas Aquinas serves as a patron saint of: people who love angels, teachers, students, schools, universities, philosophers, theologians, apologists, publishers, book sellers, chastity, and people dealing with storms. Saint Thomas Aquinas, who lived from 1225 to 1274 in Italy, France, and Germany, has a feast day of January 28th. Here's a biography of St. Thomas Aquinas, and a look at his love for angels and the miracles that believers say God performed through him.

Biography

Thomas was born in 1225 into the Italian royal family (his father was Count of Aquino and his mother was the countess of Teano). When Thomas was just 5 years old, his parents sent him to study religion with Benedictine monks, and the monks expressed surprise that Thomas repeatedly asked them mature questions about the nature of God while Thomas was such a young child.

Once Thomas grew up, he attended the University of Naples, and then joined the Order of Saint Dominic (the Dominican religious order) as a friar. But Thomas’ family was distraught at his decision to give up the privileges of royalty so he could live a simple life of poverty while serving in the religious order. So Thomas’ mother convinced his brothers (who were soldiers) to capture Thomas and detain him in the family’s home, trying to get him to give up his life as a friar.

Thinking that Thomas might decide to forget about the Dominican order (and its vow of chastity) if he was tempted by a prostitute, Thomas’ brothers brought a prostitute to Thomas’ bedroom one night, but Thomas chased her away with a burning stick he took out of his fireplace.

Later that night, Thomas said, two angels visited him in a dream while he was sleeping, to give him the extra strength he needed to remain celibate.

After more than a year of Thomas steadfastly remaining faithful to God’s calling on his life despite his family’s pressure to give it up, his family relented.

They freed Thomas from detention, and he returned to the Dominicans.

Studying Angels

Thomas kept studying, and earned his doctorate in theology from the University of Paris. He prayed, spoke, taught, and wrote extensively, developing a reputation as an expert in religion, philosophy, metaphysics, ethics, and logic. Thomas applied that expertise to the most famous document he wrote: the Summa Theologica.

In the Summa Theologica (which means "Compendium of Theology" in Latin), Thomas sought to join faith and reason together while explaining why he believed that Christian beliefs are universally true. Thomas devoted a significant portion of the Summa Theologica to the nature of angels and how they relate to human beings.

His insights into angels led the Catholic Church to declare him an "Angelic Doctor" of the church in 1567. Thomas famously said about angels: "We are like children, who stand in need of masters to enlighten us and direct us; and God has provided for this, by appointing his angels to be our teachers and guides."

Famous Miracles

Thomas worked on the Summa Theologica for years, but didn’t complete it. He stopped writing after experiencing what he said was a miraculous time of spiritual ecstasy during worship on December 6, 1273, in which God revealed deep spiritual mysteries to him.

Thomas wrote about the experience to his friend Father Reginald of Piperno: "I can do no more. Such secrets have been revealed to me that all I have written now appears to be of little value, like straw in the wind."

Another famous miracle of Thomas’ life happened while he was kneeling before a crucifix (a statue of Jesus Christ on the cross). As Thomas prayed and stared at the crucifix, it glowed with light and Jesus came alive on it, Thomas later reported. Then Jesus said to Thomas: "You have written well of me, Thomas. What reward would you desire?" and Thomas replied: "Nothing, Lord. I’m just doing it for you."

When Thomas’ brothers in his religious order came into the chapel, they witnessed Thomas levitating -- miraculously suspended in the air while caught up in an intense spiritual experience.

Thomas returned to the ground when it was over and told the brothers about what had happened.

Thomas died on March 7, 1274 and was canonized as a saint by Pope John XXII in 1323.