Thomas Aquinas
1224-1225 - 7 March 1274
Part I

His life, his works, the Paintings.

A brief biography.


Thomas Aquinas was born 1224 of 1225 to his father Count Landulf of the castle of Roccasecca, and his mother Theodora Countess of Caracciolo, related to the Hohenstaufen dynasty of Holy Roman emperors.



Thomas Aquinas was born in the castle of the family Aquino in Roccasecca, in the Campagna Romana, Italy, ca 1224-1225.


Vatican City 1974. Postmark Rocca Secca
                       14.09.1974. KimCover 515.





The history of Roccasecca is tightly bound to its strategic position, a "dry rocca" at the entrance to two narrow defiles that give access to the Valle di Comino, below the slopes of Monte Asprano (553 m.), and a natural position to control the wide Valle del Liri. Remains of archaic perimeter walling attest to early fortified presence around the site. Roccasecca served as a way station for legions and armies crossing the River Melfa, spanned by three ancient bridges here, of which remains persist, but the commune had its real beginnings in the early Middle Ages.


Thomas at Monte Cassino and at the Studium Generale of the Dominicans in Naples,


Landulf's brother Sinibald was abbot of the Benedictine abbey at Monte Cassino. While the rest of the Aquinas sons pursued a military career, the family intended for Thomas, the  fourth son, to follow his uncle into the abbacy; this would have been a normal career path for a younger son of southern Italian nobility.

At the age of five, Aquinas began his early education at Monte Cassino but after the military conflict that broke out between the Emperor Frederick II and Pope Gregory IX spilled into the abbey in early 1239, Landulf and Theodora had Aquinas enrolled at the studium generale (university) recently established by Frederick in Naples. It was here (1239)that Aquinas was probably introduced to Aristotle, Averroes and Maimonides, all of whom would influence his theological philosophy. It was also during his study at Naples that Aquinas came under the influence of John of Saint Julian, a Dominican preacher in Naples, who was part of the active effort by the Dominican order to recruit devout followers. Here his teacher in arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music was Petrus de Ibernia.
In this setting Thomas decided to join the Dominicans in Napoli, against his parents' will in 1243/44.

After his novitiate and profession he was sent to Rome. Then the Master of the Order Johannes Teutonic Thomas sent him for studies to Bologna, Thomas' elder brothers captured him and he was detained two years. In 1245 he was realised.


Thomas at Paris 1244-1248.

His superiors assigned him to the University Saint-Jacques in Paris, where he arrived in the autumn of 1245.There he meet the Dominican scholar master Albert the Great (Albertus Magnus) and studied
the works of Aristotle.


To the priory in Köln, 1248-1252, and in Paris till 1259.

During the summer of 1248, Aquinas left Paris with Albertus, who was to assume direction of the new faculty established by the Dominicans at the priory in Köln. He remained there until 1252, when he returned to Paris to prepare for the degree of master of theology. After taking his bachelor's degree, he received the licentia docendi ("license to teach") at the beginning of 1256 and shortly afterward finished the training necessary for the title and privileges of master. In 1256 he began teaching theology in one of the two Dominican schools incorporated in the University of Paris.

Thomas at the papal Curia, 1259-1268 and return to Paris in November 1268-1272.

In 1259 Thomas was appointed theological adviser and lecturer to the papal Curia, then the centre of Western humanism.  From 1265 to 1267 he taught at the priory of Santa Sabina in Rome and then, at the request of Clement IV, went to the papal Curia in Viterbo. Suddenly, in November 1268, he was sent to Paris, where he became involved in a sharp doctrinal polemic that had just been triggered off, around  the works of Averroës.

Last years at Napoli, 1272- 7 March 1274.

At Easter time in 1272, Thomas returned to Italy to establish a Dominican house of studies at the University of Napoli. This move was undoubtedly made in answer to a request made by King Charles of Anjou, who was anxious to revive the university. After participating in a General chapter, or meeting, of the Dominicans held in Firenze during Pentecost week and, having settled some family affairs, Thomas resumed his university teaching at Napoli in October and continued it until the end of the following year.

In January 1274 Thomas Aquinas was personally summoned by Gregory X to the second Council of Lyon, which was an attempt to repair the schism between the Latin and Greek churches. On his way he was stricken by illness; he stopped at the Cistercian abbey of Fossanova, where he died on March 7, 1274.


To celebrate the 7th centenary of Thomas Aquinas' dead (7.3.1274).


Germany 1974, Mi 795, Sc 1134. Postmark 1974 Bonn 15.7.1974.






In January 1274 Thomas Aquinas was personally summoned by Gregory X to the second Council of Lyons, which was an attempt to repair the schism between the Latin and Greek churches.

On his way he was stricken by illness; he stopped at the Cistercian abbey of Fossanova, where he died on March 7, 1274.     


Vatican City 1974. Postmark Fossanova 14.09.1974. KimCover 511.

Thomas Aquinas was canonized a saint in 1323
by Pope John XXII (1316-1333), officially named doctor of the church in 1567, by Pope Pius V (1566-1572), and proclaimed the protagonist of orthodoxy during the modernist crisis at the end of the 19th centurycosmic and anthropological realism of Aquinas.

7th Centenary of the dead of Thomas Aquinas
in the abbey of Fossanova on 7th March 1274.

Italy 1974, Mi 1467, Sc 1164.
Postmark  Fossanova 25.10.1974.

The works by Thomas Aquinas.

Thomas Aquinas published in the period 1244 - 1274 more than 100 works  among others Commentaries of Aristotle , Boetius (1260-1262), The prophet Jesaja, The Psalms, the Gospels, the letters of Saint Paul.  Famous is his Summa Theologica (1265-1272).Source: listed in wikipedia: 'works by Thomas Aquinas'.


In the Summa Theologica (1265-1272), book Secunda secundae, 9, 188, article 6 of his  theological work Summa Theologiae, Thomas Aquinas paraphrased the ideal of the Order of the Preachers: Contemplari et contemplata aliis tradere: Meditate and passing on the fruits of meditation. 

On this stamp of the series creatief met zegels, everybody can give a picture or own logo or text.

Netherlands 1998, Mi 1668-1672; Sc 1007 a-e.


His work 'Contra Gentiles', 1261-1263)
(Tractatus de fide catholica, contra Gentiles [contra errores infidelium]).


Francesco Traini, ca 132- ca 1365.


700th Anniversary of Thomas Aquinas' dead, 7 March 1274. Painting, 1344, by Francesco Traini (ca 1321-ca 1365), for the Dominican church
Santa Catherine in Pisa, and preserved in this church.

Thomas with his book Summa contra Gentiles, with the text:Veritatem meditabitur guttur meum et labia mea detestabuntur impium. Proverbia 8,7.

Italy 1974, Mi 1467, Sc 1164. Maximum card.


Domenico Ghirlandaio, 1449 - 1494.


Panel by Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449-1494),
Virgin on the Throne with Child and Saints,
158 x 197 cm., 1482/84.
On the right Thomas Aquinas with his book 'Summa contra Gentiles' and the text: Veritatem meditabitur guttur meum et labia mea detestabuntur impium. Proverbia 8.7. Galleria degli Uffici, Firenze.

Uganda 1996, Mi 1773, Bl 267; Sc 1455.



Thomas Aquinas as defender of the Holy Eucharistic.


Thomas Aquinas published many tracks about the Holy Eucharistic, and wrote the 'Officium de Festo Corporis Christi ad nandatum Urbani Papae' in 1264, and the hymn 'Adoro Te devote'. Many painters placed him in the 'Disputa del Sacramento'.

Raphael, Raffaelo Santi, 6 April 1483 - 6 April 1520

The Disputation of the Sacrament (Italian: La disputa del sacramento), or Disputa, is a painting by the Italian Renaissance artist Raphael (Raffaelo Santi 06.04.1483--06.04.1520)It was painted between 1509 and 1510 as the first part of Raphael's commission to decorate with frescoes the rooms that are now known as the Stanze di Raffaello, in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. At the time, this room was know as the Stanza della segnatura, and was the private papal library where the supreme papal tribunal met (Adams 344).

Raphael has created a scene spanning both heaven and earth.
Christ is surrounded by the Blessed Virgin Mary, John the Baptist and various biblical figures such as Adam, Moses and Jacob. God sits above Jesus, depicted reigning over the golden light of heaven. Below, on the altar sits the monstrance.

altar is flanked by theologians who are depicted debating Transubstantiation. Christ's body is represented in the eucharist, which is discussed by representatives of the Church; among them are Pope Julius II, Pope Sixtus IV, Savonarola and Dante Alighieri.
Pope Sixtus IV is the gold dressed Pope in the bottom of the painting. Directly behind Sixtus is Dante, wearing red and
sporting a laurel wreath (symbolizing his greatness as a writer.


In the left hand corner, there is a bald figure reading a book
leaning over a railing.
This is Raphael's mentor and famous renaissance architect Bramante.
At the bottom of the painting three Dominicans are represented: At the left Fra Angelico, in the middle Thomas Aquinas, and at the right Savonarola.

Ajman 1972, Mi 1891.


Tapestry after design by Pieter .Paul Rubens 'The institution of Corpus Domini' for the church of the monastery of the Clare Sisters in Madrid. Thomas Aquinas as defender of the Eucharistic at the
right of the Monstrance.

Malta 1980, Mi 607, Sc 567.


He was a friend of the Franciscan Cardinal-Bishop Bonaventura (121718-1274).
By order of  Pope Alexander IV Bonaventura and Thomas were appointed Magister on  12 August 1257 .

Francisco de Zurbaran, 5 November - 7 August 1664.


Panel by Francisco de Zurbaran (5.11.1598-27.8.1664): The visit of Saint Thomas Aquinas to Saint Bonaventura, 226 x 256 cm., 1629, for the Colegio de S. Bonaventura in Sevilla.

It was preserved in the Kaiser Friedrich Museum in Berlin and was definitive destroyed in 1945.


Sierra Leone 1992, Mi 1794, Sc 1487A.


Portraits of Thomas Aquinas.


There is no portrait of Thomas Aquinas. It is known that he was in later days a corpulent man. Here the  paintings, reliefs, sculptures are fantasy etc. issued on stamps.






? Century


Thomas Aquinas after a unknown artist.


Antigua and Barbuda 2000, Mi 3239, Sc 2385,h.
Bhutan, 2000, sheet. Millennium Thomas Aquinas.




On top of the stamp of Andorra the wrong notice: Sant Tomàs D’Aqui. The post office department of Andorra wished to honour the chronicler of Charles Magnus, Tomas d' Aqui (ca. 730-19.05.804), who lived some time in Andorra.



Thomas Aquinas, painting by Otto van Veen (1556-1629).


The figure on the stamp is Thomas Aquinas, after an engraving by C. Boel, based on a painting by the Leyden artist Otto van Veen (1556-1629), preserved at the Dominicans in Gent.  It was used for the frontispiece of the illustrated book about Thomas Aquinas, that was published on initiative of Miguel Ophovius, O.P., prior in Antwerpen, in 1610.


Andorra, French Administration 1982, Mi 330, Sc 303.
Postmark Principat d' Andorra 4.12.1982.



Thomas Aquinas, scholastic philosopher,
after a painting by an anonymous artist,
today preserved in the library of the priory
of San Marco, Firenze.

Vatican City 1974, Mi 640-642; Sc 555-557. KimCover 464. Visit of Pope Paul VI in Aquino. On the cover the basilica of Saint Thomas Aquinas.        



Macrino d'Alba, 1465/70 - ca 1528.


Painting by the Italian artist Macrino d’ Alba (Gian Giacomo de Alladio or de Fava), 1465/70 - ca. 1528. Madonna with Child,
Angels, Francis of Assisi and
on the right Thomas Aquinas.   
City-Hall of Alba.


Italy 2001, Mi 2797, Sc 2432.     



 Fra Angelico
Giovanni di Fiesole, circa 1395 - 18 February 1455


Painting by Fra Angelico : Madonna della Stella, catalogue by Elsa Morante, EM 29, before 1434. Tempera on panel, 84x51 cm., as a whole; 60x70 cm. as a picture. On the predella of this painting Peter Martyr, Saint Dominic and Thomas Aquinas.
Preserved in the Museo di San Marco, Firenze.

Gambia 1991, Mi 1290, Sc 1168.







Fresco by Fra Angelico. EM 101. The Crucifixion (1441/1442), 550 x 950 cm.
On the right Saint Dominic and Saint Thomas.

Museo di San Marco, Chapter Room, Firenze.


Nicaragua 1968, Mi 1479, Sc C649.
With overprint Mi 1485, Sc C655.




Gregorio Vásquez de Arce y Ceballos, 163801711.


Painting of Thomas Aquinas by the Columbian artist Gregorio
Vásquez de Arce y Ceballos, preserved in the University of Bogotá.

Thomas is presented with the  hymn Pange lingua, to be read
with a loupe. On the postmark the text: facientes veritatem.


Colombia 1982, Mi 1597, Sc 902. Postmark Bogotá 06.08.1982.


Pange lingua in music history .

"There are two plainchant settings of the Pange Lingua hymn. The better known is a Phrygian mode tune from the Roman liturgy, and the other is from the Mozarabic liturgy from Spain. The Roman tune was originally part of the Gallican Rite.

The Roman version of the Pange Lingua hymn was the basis for a famous composition by Renaissance composer Josquin des Prez, the Missa Pange lingua. An elaborate fantasy on the hymn, the mass is one of the composer's last works and has been dated to the period from 1515 to 1521, since it was not included by Petrucci in his 1514 collection of Josquin's masses, and was published posthumously. In its simplification, motivic unity and close attention to the text it has been compared to the late works of Beethoven, and many commentators consider it one of the high points of Renaissance polyphony.

Juan de Urrede, a Flemish composer active in Spain in the late fifteenth century, composed numerous settings of the Pange Lingua, most of them based on the original Mozarabic melody. One of his versions for four voices became one of the most popular pieces of the sixteenth century, and was the basis for dozens of keyboard works in addition to masses, many by Spanish composers.

Building on Josquin's treatment of the hymn's third line in the Kyrie of the Missa Pange Lingua, the "Do-Re-Fa-Mi-Re-Do"-theme became one of the most famous in music history. Simon Lohet, Michelangelo Rossi, François Roberday, Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer, Johann Jakob Froberger[2], Johann Kaspar Kerll, Johann Sebastian Bach, Johann Fux wrote fugues on it, and the latter's extensive elaborations in the Gradus ad Parnassum made it known to every aspiring composer - among them Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, whose Jupiter [3] theme borrows the first four notes.

The last two verses of Pange Lingua are often separated out. They mark the end of the procession of the monstrance in Holy Thursday liturgy. Various separate musical settings have been written for this, including one by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina and one by Widor.

Pange Lingua has been translated into many different languages for worship throughout the world. However, the Latin version remains the most popular. The Syriac translation of Pange Lingua was used as part of the rite of benediction in the Syro-Malabar Church of Kerala, India, until the 1970s."
Source: wikipedia


More paintings, reliefs, stained glass windows, tapestry.

Named after Thomas: churches, colleges, parishes, priories, universities etc.



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15th Century

The Virgin of the Catholic Monarchs, ca. 1493, 123 x 112 cm. by an anonymous Castilian painter now preserved in the Prado Museum, Madrid. On the left Thomas de Torquemada (+1498) with the model
of the church of the Dominican priory Saint Thomas Aquinas at Avila.

Grenada 2000, Mi 4455, Sc 3005.


16th Century