“Reason is one way of finding truth. It is a distinctively human way; animals can't do it. We can. So let's begin.”

Peter Kreeft

St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274 A.D.)


Thomas was a gentle boy. His eyes reflected a cheerful demeanor and thoughtfulness beyond his years. Even when he as a little child was unable to understand the missals and scripts through which he frequently poured, he gazed at them in wonder. Just turning the pages over and again became a "little world of joy" for him.

In the fall of 1231, six year-old Thomas was sent to the nearby Benedictine monastery of Monte Cassino to receive a basic education.

The Monte Cassino Monastery of today is not the same Thomas lived in because it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1349, rebuilt and destroyed again by bombers in 1944, during the World War II.

The monastery was run by his uncle, Lord Abbot Landulf Sennebald. Thomas' family hoped for Thomas to one day become the abbot himself.

In the monastery, Thomas learned Italian, as well as basic elements of Latin and French. Outside of linguistics, his education in Monte Cassino laid the foundations of his contemplative life and love for the Scriptures.

To the monks' amusement, young Thomas would frequently question "divine dilemmas": "What is God?" "How can we know God?" and "What is truth?" – questions, that he continued to ponder upon through the rest of his life.

Though amiable towards his friends, Thomas was slow to join them in their boyish chatter or games. His most prized companion was a book; his favorite retreat, the church.

The atmosphere of the monastery, compatible with his personality, nurtured his observant powers and formed the silent thinker and prayerful spirit that Thomas grew to be.


  1. Saint Thomas Aquinas by Fr. Placid Conway, O.P., Longmans, Green and Co., 1911
  2. http://www.brogilbert.org/st_thomas/1st_thomas_childhood.htm
  3. Thomas Aquinas Spiritual Master by Robert Barron, The Crossroad Publishing Co., 2008