JMC : Saint Thomas Aquinas / by Raïssa Maritain

XXI Divine Favours

THE Doctors of the University of Paris consulted him one day about a difficult question regarding the Eucharist.

He wrote his reply and placed it on the altar, submitting it to the judgment of God.

His companion and several other brothers were there and watched him.

Suddenly they saw Christ standing above the copy-book, and they heard these words:

"Thou hast written well of the Sacrament of My Body, and thou hast well and truthfully answered the question that was put to thee, so far as it is possible to know these things on earth."

And stupefied, they saw the Saint joyfully lift himself up in the air about an arm's length. So strong was the attraction of his soul toward God, and so strong the love of God that drew him up.

Another time, at the convent of Naples, the sacristan saw him lifted up quite a distance from the floor of the chapel.

He stayed a long time to look. Saint Thomas, turned towards the Crucifix, prayed and wept. And suddenly a voice came from the Crucifix:

"Thou hast written well of Me, Thomas," said the voice. "What reward wilt thou have?"

"None other than Thyself, Lord!" replied the Saint.

He was then writing about the Passion and Resurrection of Christ.


For the feast of Christmas, Saint Thomas always received some fine present from the Child Jesus.

One time it was the conversion of two Jews from Rome who met at the house of a Cardinal.

Brother Thomas," said the Cardinal, "say some of your good and holy words to these two hardened Jews."

Brother Thomas talked to them. "And as soon as he began they felt themselves changed." They themselves admitted that "it was with difficulty that they could resist his reasoning or contradict him."

They asked for Baptism, and were baptized on Christmas Day in the chapel of the Cardinal.


The sick were cured by his prayer, or by touching the hem of his cloak. One day he cured Reginald, his beloved companion, who had been suffering for some time from a dangerous fever. Thomas, who always carried about him some relics of the little martyr Agnes, placed them on the breast of the sick man. And Reginald, who had confidence and prayed, was immediately cured.

But now the holy Doctor was sick himself. A brother who was caring for him, and a child named John Coppa, suddenly saw a large bright star come into the window and shine over the bed where he was lying. It stayed in the room long enough for one to say a Hail Mary.

This prodigy, to which John Coppa testified at the process of canonization, took place at Naples in 1274, the very year of the Saint's death.


A little before, on December 6th, 1273, he had a long ecstasy. That is to say, God drew all his attention and all the affection of his soul. And He kept him for a long time, as a mother holds her child in her arms and presses it against her breast.

Reginald, who did not like to see his Master so forgetful, and who was, perhaps, also a little afraid to have him die, indiscreetly pulled him by the cloak. The Saint came back to himself, but from that day he ceased to write or to dictate.

Reginald was very sad, and said to him:

"How can you set aside such an important work which you undertook for the love of God and the enlightenment of the world?"

"I can do no more," replied his Master, "I can do no more, Reginald. Such secrets have been revealed to me that all I have written now seems to be as nothing. Now I hope that in His goodness God will allow the end of my life to follow closely that of my work."

Saint Thomas spoke this way without bitterness. He had only gentleness in him. Especially from December 6th, he seemed filled with the gentleness of God. It was as though he were dazzled by the vision of His beauty. A little of the divine beauty had been shown to him, and all the beauty of the world had been eclipsed by it in his eyes.

The masterpieces of men, the most precious manuscripts, and even the masterpieces of God: flowers, sun, the starry heavens -- all had lost their charm for him.

And the work to which he had devoted his life, which God had willed and God had blessed, in which God had helped with His grace the labours of the Saint, answering by the gift of light and truth his prayers and tears -- even this work could hold him no longer.

Incomplete in our eyes, in the eyes of God it was finished. Brother Thomas felt it: soon God would tell him to come. Soon he would enter into the joy of the Lord. He had no more to do here below. The Saint was anxious to die.

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