JMC : Saint Thomas Aquinas / by Raïssa Maritain

XX His Holy Distraction

WHEN he wept and prayed in this way, or when he was trying to find the answer to a difficult question, very often he did not hear nor feel what was going on about him.

So one day, when he was at the table of the King Saint Louis, the two saints seated side by side, Brother Thomas, forgetful of the circumstances and the place, rapped loudly on the table and cried out:

So much for the heresy of the Manicheans !

"Master," said the Prior who accompanied him, "be careful, you are at the table of the King of France."

And saying this, he pulled at his cloak to bring him out of this state of holy distraction.


He was extremely sensitive. And when he had to undergo some operation, or the bleeding that the doctors of that time sometimes inflicted on their patients, in order not to be distracted by pain, Saint Thomas would make use of a marvellous means: it was enough for him to start to pray. Then they could use the cauterizer or the lancet, could prick, cut or burn his flesh; he felt nothing. His mind was pursuing its angelic life.

And a greater marvel still, he was several times seen in prayer, lifted up several arms' length above the earth, suspended in the air, having as support only the invisible wings of his love of God.

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