From January 28, 2023 to January 28, 2025, on the occasion of the triple jubilee of St. Thomas Aquinas, the Catholic faithful can benefit from a plenary indulgence for the remission of the penalty for forgiven sins. 2023, 2024, and 2025 represent three jubilee years of the birth (1225), death (1274), and canonization (1323) of St. Thomas Aquinas, Dominican, and Doctor of the Church who is called the Angelic Doctor.
He was born on January 28, 1225 in Roccasecca, in the Kingdom of Naples, died in the Cistercian Abbey of Fossanova on March 7, 1274, and was canonized by Pope John XXII on July 18, 1323. Thus, the year 2023 marks the 700th anniversary of his canonization; 2024 will be the 750th anniversary of his death; and 2025, the 800th anniversary of his birth.
Also, the Apostolic Penitentiary, “drawing from the heavenly treasures of the Church, willingly grants a plenary indulgence, from which the faithful who are truly penitent and moved by charity will be able to benefit under the usual conditions: sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion, and prayer for the intentions of the sovereign pontiff. The plenary indulgence may be applied by suffrage also to the souls of the faithful still in purgatory.”
The indulgence can be obtained by making a pilgrimage to a holy place connected with the Order of Friars Preachers, by “devoutly taking part in the celebrations of the jubilee,” or “at least by devoting a suitable time to pious recollection,” and by concluding with the Our Father, the recitation of the Creed, and the invocation of the intercession of the Virgin Mary and St. Thomas Aquinas.
Any church, sanctuary, or chapel currently entrusted to the Dominican Order can meet the requirements of the pilgrimage. In honor of this jubilee, the relic of the skull of St. Thomas Aquinas, which has not been exhibited since 1369, will be presented for the veneration of the faithful in France and abroad.
Kept under the altar of the Jacobins convent in Toulouse, cradle of the Dominican Order, the relic was transferred to a new reliquary, blessed on January 27, for its first display at the Dominican convent in Bordeaux. The Association for the Centenary of St. Thomas Aquinas, which has custody of the reliquary during this jubilee time, is responsible for establishing the calendar of ostensions.
Brief Biography of St. Thomas Aquinas
St. Thomas was born in the castle of Roccasecca, near Naples, in the Aquino family, on January 28, 1225. At the age of five, he was placed by his parents as an oblate in the Benedictine abbey of Montecasino. At the age of ten, he was enrolled in a course in literature and dialectics in Naples. He learned the Greek language and studied physics, metaphysics, and morals.
Around August 1243, he entered the Dominican Order in Naples. Thomas received the habit of the Order founded in Toulouse in 1215 by St. Dominic. However, Thomas’ family, who opposed his vocation to a mendicant order, for a year kept him prisoner in the family castle of Roccasecca. He returned to the convent in Naples in the fall of 1244.
He studied in Paris from 1245-1246 to 1248, then he was assistant to St. Albert the Great in Cologne from 1248 to 1252. He returned to Paris from 1252 to 1256 to teach there as a baccalaureate sententiarii. He gave commentaries on the Sentences of Peter Lombard, a reference work for the study of theology until the 16th century.
He wrote his Commentary on the Sentences before the Contra Gentiles and the Summa Theologiæ. He was admitted to the licentia docendi in February 1256, which gave him the faculty to teach as a Master of Theology. He was then Master-Regent from 1256 to 1259.
After that, he was appointed by the general chapter of Valenciennes in 1259 to teach in Naples, from 1259 to 1261. He was appointed conventual lector, i.e., he was in charge of the intellectual, philosophical and theological life of the Orvieto convent from 1261 to 1265. There he completed the Contra Gentiles, begun in 1257.
He was appointed Master-Regent in Rome between 1265 and 1268. It was there that he undertook the writing of the first part of the Summa Theologiæ, prima pars, which deals with God and His work of creation. He returned to Paris from 1268 to 1272. There he wrote the second part of the Summa, secunda pars, which concerns human moral life.
In the spring of 1272, he left Paris and returned to Naples, where he was appointed Master-Regent until February 1274. It was in Naples that he wrote the third part of the Summa, tertia pars, which deals with Christ the Redeemer, the sacraments, and final ends. He was then summoned by Pope Gregory X as theologian to the second Council of Lyon, a council concerning union with the Greeks separated from Rome since 1054.
On his way to the Council of Lyons, he fell seriously ill at the Cistercian abbey of Fossanova. The monks surrounded him with care. In gratitude, Thomas explained to them the Canticle of Canticles. He gave up his soul to God on March 7, 1274.
St. Thomas was canonized on July 18, 1323. He was proclaimed Doctor of the Church by Pope St. Pius V on April 15, 1567, and Common Doctor of the Church in 1923 by Pope Pius XI.
At the request of Fr. Elie de Raymond, Master General of the Dominicans, Pope Urban V in 1368 compelled the Cistercians of Fossanova to return the head and body of St. Thomas Aquinas to his religious family. These relics were then transferred to Toulouse. His right arm, offered to Paris, was passed to the convent of Saints Dominic and Sixtus, in Rome.