Thomas Aquinas, a saint and doctor of the Latin church, surnamed the Angelic Doctor, born according to some authorities at Aquino in the kingdom of Naples in 1224, according to others at Belcastro in 1226, died at the Cistercian abbey of Fossa Nuova, in the Pontine marshes, March 7, 1274. His father was count of Aquino, and allied both by blood and marriage with several of the royal families of Europe. At an early age he was intrusted to the care of the Benedictines at Monte Casino, and thence he was transferred to the university of Naples. From the first he showed an inclination to the monastic life, and in 1243 he received the habit of the Dominicans. His relatives were opposed to this proceeding and imprisoned him in a tower of his father's castle, whence, by the help of one of his sisters whom he had converted, he escaped, and was allowed to resume in peace his convent life. In company with the general of the Dominican order, he went to Cologne, where he became a pupil of Albertus Magnus. The nickname of Dumb Ox, which his fellow students gave him fro m his size and silence, gave occasion to his master one day to exclaim when the promptness and acuteness of his answers had astonished them all, "This dumb ox will give such a bellow in learning as all the world shall hear." In 1248 Thomas was appointed to teach ethics at Cologne; and four years later, he was teaching theology at Paris. His school was thronged with students, and crowds waited upon Lis preaching.

In 1261 he was recalled by Urban IV. to Italy, and became a constant attendant and friend of this most active of popes, teaching in the more important places of central and southern Italy, particularly in Naples, Rome, Bologna, and Pisa. He was on his way to the council at Lyons, to sustain the cause of the Latin against the Greek church, when he was seized with his fatal illness. Less than 50 years afterward, in 1323, he was canonized, and the day of his death was appointed as the day of his festival. He is ranked with the four great doctors of the western church. The works of St. Thomas have always had high authority, and large use is still made of them in Catholic theological study. They form 17, 19, and 20 folio volumes, in the various editions from 1490 to 1745. The three volumes of the Summa Theologies may be regarded as the most finished compend of scholastic divinity. - See " Life and Labors of S. Thomas of Aquinas," by Roger Bede Vaughan (2 vols., London, 1872).