Why is St. Thomas Aquinas Called ‘The Angelic Doctor?’

Thomas is girded by angels with a mystical belt of purity after his proof of chastity, Diego Velázquez (Public Domain)

St. Thomas is one of the greatest theologians of all time. He wrote the Summa theological, a compilation of all the Church’s teachings that is thousands of pages long. He composed proofs for the existence of God. He highlighted the harmony of faith and reason, showing how nothing the Catholic Church teaches contradicts logic or reason.

So why is he known as “The Angelic Doctor,” and what does that mean for Catholics today?

Well, there is not an official explanation, but tradition holds that, in addition to his extensive writings on angels, it could be due to this amazing story:

Before St. Thomas Aquinas was born, it is said that a hermit told his mother that her son would be so learned and so extraordinary in sanctity that none would be found equal to him.

His family, of nobility, sent him off to school, where he proved to be an exceptional student. His heart, however, longed for the religious life, and he joined the Dominicans. Outraged at the thought of Thomas becoming a poor preacher, his family kidnapped him, locked him in their castle tower, and even sent a woman to seduce him, convinced he’d be tempted enough to abandon religious life. But he drove the woman out with a poker from the fireplace, branded the Sign of the Cross on the door, and fell to the ground, praying for purity and chastity.

Thomas reportedly entered a great sleep and received a vision of two angels, who girded him with a cord of chastity, never to be overpowered. Through the grace of God, he was able to excel in virtue, especially purity and chastity.

Even today, the Angelic Warfare Confraternity exists to pray for chastity and purity for men and women throughout the world.

You can join this confraternity too! In a world that glorifies disordered sexual behavior, promiscuity, and sins of the flesh, there is a desperate need for families to pray for protection.

The Prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas for Purity

Dear Jesus,
I know that every perfect gift,
and especially that of chastity,
depends on the power of Your providence.
Without You, a mere creature can do nothing.
Therefore, I beg You to defend by Your grace
the chastity and purity of my body and soul.
And if I have ever sensed or imagined anything
that could stain my chastity and purity,
blot it out, Supreme Lord of my powers,
that I may advance with a pure heart in Your love and service,
offering myself on the most pure altar of Your divinity
all the days of my life. Amen.

This article is excerpted from “The Prayer Book for Tired Parents: Practical Ways to Grow in Love of God and Get Your Family to Heaven” (c) 2022 David and Debbie Cowden. Please only reproduce with permission – thou shalt not steal.

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