Thomas is usually shown with the sun on his breast, as here, and holding a church and a book. He is the patron of booksellers, universities, pencil makers, scholars and students.
THOMAS, known as the Angelic Doctor on account of his sublime understanding of heavenly things, was born about 1226 in a castle perched on a mountain crag above the town of Aquino. He had two elder brothers and three sisters, the youngest of whom was struck dead by lightning in the room where little Thomas and his nurse were sleeping. The saint remained terrified of thunderstorms for the rest of his life.
Thomas went to school at the Benedictine monastery of Monte Cassino and . afterwards to the University of Naples where he became attracted to the Dominican order, His entry into the order was violently opposed by his family, who pursued him across Italy and eventually his elder brothers, with a company of soldiers, took him prisoner on a road near Siena and incarcerated him.
During his imprisonment Thomas studied and learnt by heart large portions of the Bible. Nothing deflected him from his purpose to become a Dominican friar. His brothers even tried to seduce him by introducing a prostitute into his room but Thomas, waving a flaming brand from his fire, chased her out. Eventually, when the family resistance weakened Thomas, helped by his willing sisters, escaped by a rope from the castle and returned to the Dominicans at Naples where he was duly professed.
Studies occupied the next few years. Under great teachers like Albertus Magnus he made tremendous strides. But his humility kept him silent when he might have distinguished himself at disputations among the other students. He was known, because of his silence and his size as " l'he Dumb Sicilian Ox".
His life was spent lecturing all over Europe (he probably visited London exactly seven hundred years ago — in 1263 — to attend the General Chapter of the Dominican Order) and in writing philosophical and theological works. His great work. the Summa Theologica, is the fullest exposition of theology ever written. He also composed the 'Pange Lingua', 'Verbum Supernurn'. 'Lauda Sion' and 'Adoro tc devote' — hymns in daily liturgical use still.