Thomas Aquinas was born in 1225 in Aquino, Italy and died aged 49 in France in 1274.
Thomas Aquinas’ father was Count Landulf of Aquino, near Naples. He and his brother Ronald seized the castle of Roccasecca and became the landlords of the area. Thomas’ mother was Theodora; she may have been sister to the Holy Roman Emperor.
Aged five Thomas was taken to the abbey of Monte Cassino to be educated by monks. Thomas’ family wanted to place him in the best position to obtain power and wealth. However, aged 18 Thomas refused the path that would lead to him becoming abbot of the abbey, and instead joined the poor Order of Preachers founded by St Dominic.
Thomas’ outraged family abducted him and incarcerated him in Roccasecca castle. This was to prevent Thomas from joining the Dominicans because they were too evanglical. Dominicans were going around preaching the gospel to the poor. Other saints of the new evangelical movement in the church in the 13th century were St Francis of Assisi and St Anthony of Padua.
Thomas escaped and as a Dominican friar went to study at Naples University under the new Aristotlian teachers of the 1240s. The Dominican brothers removed Thomas from there because of the problems he had with his nearby family. They took him to the University of Paris to study under Albert the Great in 1245. The other scholars in Paris mocked Thomas for being a bit slow and stupid, but Albert saw that Aquinas was destined for great things.
Thomas was made a priest in Cologne where he had a post teaching Bible studies to Dominican brothers. He taught Biblical studies and theology at various papal universities receiving his qualification as a teacher in 1256.