by Kyle Burgess ’21
This Monday, January 28, saw residents of Aquinas Hall come together to celebrate the feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas with a special mass in Aquinas Lounge. The main celebrant for the occasion was Providence College’s Chaplain and Director of Campus Ministry, Reverend Peter Martyr Yungwirth, O.P.
As any first-year Development of Western Civilization student could tell you, St. Thomas Aquinas was born in 1225 in modern-day Sicily as the youngest member of a well-off merchant family. His family sent him away to the monastery of Monte Cassino just outside of Rome at five-years-old in keeping with the traditional Italian custom of designating one’s youngest child to the religious life.
Eventually, Aquinas transferred to a university in Naples where he would first encounter the Dominican order. Despite attempts by his family to prevent him from joining the sect, Aquinas persisted and was soon ordained a priest and full-fledged Dominican friar.
St. Thomas Aquinas’ chief claim to fame is his vast collection of proofs and writings in the study of theology, most notably his Summa Theologiae. His dedication to the field quickly made him a beloved member of the Dominican religious community, as is proven by the plethora of references found in the name of the dorm Aquinas Hall and statues across the College’s campus.
Despite the efforts of St. Thomas Aquinas and the Dominican order to make progress in understanding man’s relationship with God, their discoveries have been viewed as irrelevant to the demands of modern society.
The atmosphere at PC is no exception to this trend, with many students placing MPAc exams and coveted intramural t-shirts over any of the Summa’s revelations.
However, Rev. Peter Martyr reminded attendees that although theology textbooks don’t appeal to everybody, the messages within them point towards a far greater truth than any other class or intramural game can teach. “It is the work of St. Thomas,” he explained, “which aims to help us understand the love of God and how he is present in our daily lives.”
St. Thomas Aquinas is also a fan-favorite of many faithful Catholics because of his personability in pondering life’s greater questions. “St. Thomas is really admirable because of the way he dedicated his whole life to finding truth,” remarked Brooke Douglass ’21. “My first theology class revolved around his works and I loved it so much that I even added theology as a major!”
A “culinary tour” of St. Thomas Aquinas’ life immediately followed Mass, which incorporated Italian, French, and German cuisine to represent the countries in which he taught and lived, providing Aquinas Hall residents with the opportunity to socialize and partake in the day’s festivities with a feast of their own.