Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of January 28, 2008
Thomas Aquinas famous as scholar and preacher
A great writer, teacher, this saint was known for his purity of mind
St. Thomas Aquinas – January 28
By TED FITZGERALD
The saint is sometimes portrayed in Church art with a star on his chest, symbolic of his purity of mind.
Over the years, the church was enlarged several times, but fell victim to the French Revolution, and for many years was used by the French army until deemed unfit as a structure. Fortunately, by the 1970s it had been restored to its original form under the direction of Prosper Merimee of the Historical Monuments Commission.
The size and architectural style of the great church can be appreciated when viewed from the relaxing green spaces of the partially restored convent cloisters.
Made of the soft reddish brick that Toulouse is famous for, the nave walls rise to culminate in the distinctive, many-tiered octagonal bell tower, a near duplicate of that at the city's most prestigious house of God, the Basilica of Saint-Sernin.
Inside the convent church, most visitors are immediately impressed with the great height of the building and its air of spaciousness. It's an unusual plan in having two equal-sized naves separated lengthwise by an impressive row of plain, tall columns.
The interior was deliberately designed to avoid the distraction of decoration since the primary purpose of the church was for preaching, one nave for the public, the other for the monks.
Centred alone in the north nave is the prize of the Jacobin church, a simple altar that shelters the relics of the great Dominican saint, Thomas Aquinas.
Despite his reputation as a great writer and teacher at several European universities, Thomas was noted for his humility and prayerfulness.
He died en route to a council in Lyons in 1274 and was canonized a short 50 years later.
He was declared a doctor of the Church and since 1880 has been recognized as patron of Catholic schools.
The saint is sometimes portrayed in Church art with a star on his chest, symbolic of his purity of mind and elevated purposes.
His feast day commemorates the date in 1368 when his relics arrived at Les Jacobins (they were later moved for safe-keeping to Saint-Sernin during the revolution).
His Toulouse shrine welcomes a steady stream of those who, kneeling at the reliquary, present their pleas for intercession through the holy saint before visiting the large, busy gift/book shop at the front of the church for meditative and spiritual aids.
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