St. Thomas Aquinas

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In the year 1225, the majority of Europe as we know it today was part of a single Latin culture, very much influenced by the Roman Catholic Church and the Holy Roman Empire. 'The Emperor Frederick II ruled from Germany to Sicily' and 'his ambitions conflicted with those of a succession of Popes (making) Italy of the early thirteenth century a theatre of constant strife' (Kenny, 1980, p.1). It was at this point in history that the youngest child of Count Landulf of the feudal house of Aquino was born: Tommaso d'Aquino. He was born in the family's castle located at Rocca Secca in the Southern part of Italy. His father and older brothers happened to be soldiers for Frederick II and therefore were caught up in the arguments and disputes between Frederick and the papal states. This fact is particularly ironic considering Thomas was later dubbed the 'Common Doctor' of the Roman Catholic Church. Nonetheless, at age five Thomas' family sent him to Monte Cassino, a monastery, to be a 'Benedictine oblate.' This meant that Thomas was offered by his parents to the monastery to be educated and trained into the life of a monk and at a later time Thomas would be given the option to choose for or against committing himself to monkshood (McInerny, 1977, p. 14). Because of the continued squabbles between Frederick II and the Pope, leading to Frederick's excommunication in 1239, Monte Casso became occupied by Sicilian troops and many monks were sent into exile. At this time, Thomas' family removed him from the monastery and sent him to the University of Naples to continue his studies.

Moving to Naples allowed Thomas to study Liberal Arts in an institution that Emperor Frederick II had founded. Frederick appreciated Jewish, Mohammed and Christian scholarship...