JMC : Saint Thomas Aquinas / by Raïssa Maritain

XXII The Death of Saint Thomas

CALLED to the Council of Lyons by Pope Gregory X, "because he was considered one of the holiest and wisest men in the world," Brother Thomas started out once more, out of obedience.

He was obeying the Pope, and he was obeying God. He started out for Lyons, so weak, so sick, and he was starting out for heaven. It was the same way.

He stopped in passing at the home of his niece, the Countess Francesca, who lived at the Castle of Faenza in Campania.

But he stayed only four days. Overcome by sickness, he asked to be taken not far from there to the Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria of Fossa Nuova.

Going in, he leaned with his hand against the wall, and said

"This is my rest for ever and ever: here will I dwell, for I have chosen it."


Saint Benedict had welcomed Thomas, a little child of five, at the monastery of Monte Cassino. Saint Benedict again welcomed, at Fossa Nuova, the great Doctor who was about to die.

He came laden down with merit and glory, the creator of an immortal work, but more gentle and humble than a child -- holy.

He lived on for a month.

The gentle hospitality of the Benedictines was for him even more respectful and gentle.

The monks did not know what to do for him to express their veneration and joy at serving so great a servant of God.

From the forest to his cell they themselves bore in on their shoulders wood to warm him.

And he, he gathered up all his strength to speak to them of the love of God.


The Blessed Virgin appeared to him with a gentle smile. She told him that he was pleasing to God. And all that he had asked of the Lord by her intercession had been granted to him.


As he felt the end approach he asked for the Holy Viaticum.

The Abbot, surrounded by his monks, entered the cell, carrying the Blessed Sacrament.

Thomas, who was lying on the floor, hastened to kneel before the Lord.

His face bathed in tears, he burst forth with his love, saying

"I receive Thee, the price of my redemption. I receive Thee, Companion of my life on this earth.

"For Whose love I have watched, studied, laboured. Thee have I preached; Thee have I taught.

"Never have I said anything against Thee if anything was not well said, that is to be attributed to my ignorance. . . . I submit all to the judgment and correction of the Holy Roman Church, in whose obedience I now pass from life."

Looking upon the divine Host, he said again, and repeated several times:

"You are the King of Glory, O Christ! You are the eternal Son of the Father."

Then he received Holy Communion for the last time, and wept abundantly. The next day he received Extreme Unction, and died a few moments afterwards.

It was March 7th, 1274.

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