Thomas of Villanova

Last updated
St. Thomas of Villanova, O.S.A.
Tomas de Villanueva.jpg
Old master print of St. Thomas in Portraits of Illustrious Spaniards (Madrid, 1791)
Religious, bishop and confessor
BornTomás García y Martínez
in Villanueva de los Infantes,
Ciudad Real, Spain
DiedSeptember 8, 1555
in Valencia, Spain
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
(Order of St. Augustine)
Canonized November 1, 1658 by Pope Alexander VII
Feast September 22
Attributes A bishop distributing alms to the poor
Patronage Santolan, (Pasig City), Alimodian and Miag-ao (Iloilo), Villanova University

Thomas of Villanova (1488 – 8 September 1555), born Tomás García y Martínez, was a Spanish friar of the Order of Saint Augustine who was a noted preacher, ascetic and religious writer of his day. He became an archbishop who was famous for the extent of his care for the poor of his see.



He was born Tomás García y Martínez in Fuenllana, Spain, in 1488. [1] His father was a miller, [2] who regularly distributed food and provisions to the poor, as did his mother. [3] He grew up and was educated in Villanueva de los Infantes, in the Province of Ciudad Real, Spain, therefore the name Thomas of Villanueva. Part of the original house still stands, with a coat of arms in the corner, beside a family chapel. In spite of his family's wealth, as a young boy he often went about naked because he had given his clothing to the poor.

At the age of sixteen years, Thomas entered the University of Alcalá de Henares to study Arts and Theology. He became a professor there, teaching arts, logic, and philosophy, despite a continuing absentmindedness and poor memory. [4] In 1516, he decided to join the Augustinian friars in Salamanca and in 1518 was ordained a priest.

He became renowned for his eloquent and effective preaching in the churches of Salamanca. [3] Thomas composed beautiful sermons, among which stands out the Sermon on the Love of God, one of the great examples of sacred oratory of the 16th century. Charles V, upon hearing him preach, exclaimed, "This monsignor can move even the stones!".[ citation needed ] Charles named Thomas one of his councilors of state and court preacher in Valladolid, the residence of the Emperor when on his visits to the Low Countries. [1]

His scathing attacks on his fellow bishops earned him the title of reformer. [2] Some of his sermons attacked the cruelty of bullfighting. He also had a great devotion to the Virgin Mary, whose heart he compared to the burning bush of Moses that is never consumed.

Within the Order, he successively held the positions of prior of his local monastery, Visitor General, and Prior Provincial for Andalusia and Castile. In 1533, Thomas sent out the first Augustinian friars to arrive in Mexico. [1] Charles V offered him the post of Archbishop of Granada but he would not accept it.


Thomas of Vilanueva Heals The Sick, Murillo Murillo Thomas of Vilanueva Heals The Sick.tiff
Thomas of Vilanueva Heals The Sick, Murillo

In 1544 he was nominated as Archbishop of Valencia and he continued to refuse the position until ordered to accept by his superior. Given a donation to decorate his residence, he sent the money to a hospital in need of repair. [3] He began his episcopacy by visiting every parish in the Archdiocese to discover what the needs of the people were. [5] Aided by his assistant bishop, Juan Segriá, he put in order an archdiocese that for a century had not had direct pastoral government. He organized a special college for Moorish converts, and in particular an effective plan for social assistance, welfare, and charity. In 1547 he ordained as a priest Luis Beltrán, a noted missionary in South America. Thomas started Presentation Seminary in 1550. [5]

He was well known for his great personal austerity (he sold the straw mattress on which he slept in order to give money to the poor) and wore the same habit that he had received in the novitiate, mending it himself. [4] Thomas was known as “father of the poor.” [2] His continual charitable efforts were untiring, especially towards orphans, poor women without a dowry, and the sick. He possessed, however, an intelligent notion of charity, so that while he was very charitable, he sought to obtain definitive and structural solutions to the problem of poverty; for example, giving work to the poor, thereby making his charity bear fruit. "Charity is not just giving, rather removing the need of those who receive charity and liberating them from it when possible," he wrote. He established boarding schools and high schools. [6]

Thomas died in Valencia on September 8, 1555 of angina at the age of 67. His remains are preserved at the Cathedral there. [5]


He was canonized by Pope Alexander VII on November 1, 1658. [7] [4] His feast day is celebrated on September 22.


Barangay Santo Tomas Lubao, Pampanga (a Kapilya or Church) in Lubao Pampanga, Philippines, dedicated to Saint Thomas De Villanueva. Lubaojf.JPG
Barangay Santo Tomas Lubao, Pampanga (a Kapilya or Church) in Lubao Pampanga, Philippines, dedicated to Saint Thomas De Villanueva.

Thomas is the author of various Tracts, among which is included the Soliloquy between God and the soul, on the topic of communion. Francisco de Quevedo wrote his biography. His complete writings were published in six volumes as Opera omnia, in Manila in 1881.

Thomas is the namesake and patron saint of Villanova University, near Philadelphia in the United States, which was founded and is administered by the friars of his Order; Universidad Católica de Santo Tomás de Villanueva in Havana, Cuba; St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; and Villanova College, a Catholic school for boys located in Brisbane, Australia. In the Philippines, some churches and towns are dedicated in honor of the saint with grand feast or fiesta celebrations with lots of food on the table for the guests and visitors. He is the patron saint of the towns of Alimodian and Miag-ao, both in Iloilo. He is also the patron saint of Barangay Santolan in Pasig City.

A congregation of sisters is also named after him. [6]

See also

Related Research Articles

Anthony of Padua 13th century Franciscan friar and Doctor of the Church

Saint Anthony of Padua, also known as Saint Anthony of Lisbon, was a Portuguese Catholic priest and friar of the Franciscan Order. He was born and raised by a wealthy family in Lisbon, Portugal, and died in Padua, Italy. Noted by his contemporaries for his powerful preaching, expert knowledge of scripture, and undying love and devotion to the poor and the sick, he was one of the most quickly canonized saints in church history. He was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church on 16 January 1946. He is also the patron saint of lost things.

Augustinians general term for various religious orders

Augustinians are members of Christian religious orders that follow the Rule of Saint Augustine, written about 400 by Augustine of Hippo. There are two distinct types of Augustinians in Catholic religious orders dating back to the 12th–3th centuries:

Nicholas of Tolentino Italian saint and mystic

Nicholas of Tolentino, known as the Patron of Holy Souls, was an Italian saint and mystic.

Villanova is a name of Latin origin, meaning new town. It is equivalent to Italian Villanuova, French Villeneuve, Spanish Villanueva, and Catalan, Galician, Occitan and Portuguese Vilanova. It may refer to:

Vincent Ferrer Valencian Dominican friar

Saint Vincent Ferrer, O.P. was a Valencian Dominican friar, preacher, who gained acclaim as a missionary and a logician. He is honored as a saint of the Catholic Church and other churches of Catholic traditions.

Villanova Preparatory School is an Augustinian Catholic co-ed day and boarding school in the United States, located in the California town of Ojai. Sitting on more than 130 acres, Villanova's campus has many athletic facilities, two dormitories, sports fields and trails, a gym, and tennis courts. The school is located in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and is a member of the Augustinian Secondary Education Association.

Peter of Alcantara, was a Spanish Franciscan friar canonized in 1669.

Villanova College is a high school and middle school in King City, Ontario, Canada. Established by lay educators Paul Paradiso and Grant Purdy with the blessing of the Archdiocese Toronto and in cooperation with the Order of Saint Augustine's friars of Toronto and Marylake Augustinian Monastery. The school campus is within the grounds of this Augustinian monastic foundation in King City. Villanova College offers grades four to twelve and is the first, and only, Canadian institution to become a member of the Augustinian Secondary Education Association. It is a privately operated independent school, officially sponsored by the Augustinian Order.

Augustinian nuns most ancient and continuous segment of the Roman Catholic Augustinian religious order

Augustinian nuns are the most ancient and continuous segment of the Roman Catholic Augustinian religious order under the canons of contemporary historical method. The Augustinian nuns, named after Saint Augustine of Hippo, are several Roman Catholic enclosed monastic orders of women living according to a guide to religious life known as the Rule of St. Augustine. Prominent Augustinian nuns include Italian composer Vittoria Aleotti, Italian mystic St. Clare of Montefalco, German mystic Anne Catherine Emmerich and St. Rita of Cascia.

Villanueva de los Infantes, Ciudad Real Municipality in Castile-La Mancha, Spain

Villanueva de los Infantes is a municipality in the province of Ciudad Real, Castile-La Mancha, Spain. It has a population of 5727 people.

Louis Bertrand (saint) Spanish Dominican missionary

Louis Bertrand was a Spanish Dominican friar who preached in South America during the 16th century, and is known as the "Apostle to the Americas". He is venerated as a saint by the Catholic Church.

Universidad Católica de Santo Tomás de Villanueva was a private Roman Catholic university founded on August 15, 1946, in Havana, Cuba. It was founded by American Augustinians with assistance from European Augustinians and named after Saint Thomas of Villanova. In 1957, it was declared a pontifical university. In 1961, the Augustinians were expelled from Cuba and the university was confiscated by the Cuban government.

John of Sahagún Spanish Augustinian friar, priest and saint

John of Sahagún, O.E.S.A., was a Spanish Augustinian friar and priest. He was a leading preacher regarding social behavior of his day. He has been declared a saint by the Catholic Church.

Order of Saint Augustine Catholic order of mendicant friars

The Order of Saint Augustine, generally called Augustinians or Austin Friars, is a Catholic religious order. It was founded in 1244 by bringing together several eremetical orders in the Tuscany region who were following the Rule of St. Augustine, written by St. Augustine of Hippo in the 5th Century.

Ezequiél Moreno y Díaz Spanish bishop and Catholic saint

Saint Ezequiél Moreno y Díaz, OAR was a member of the Order of Augustinian Recollects and now venerated as a Saint in the Roman Catholic Church. He was born on April 9, 1848 in Alfaro, La Rioja, Spain and later served as a missionary to the Philippines. He also became the Bishop of Pinara and later of Pasto, in Colombia.

Monsignor Bonner High School was an all-male Augustinian Catholic High School in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia. It is located in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, United States. Bonner was created in 1953 as Archbishop Prendergast High School for Boys. In 1955, the current building was constructed and in 1957 entitled Monsignor Bonner High School. The previously occupied building became the all-female Archbishop Prendergast High School. In 2012, Bonner merged with the all-girls Archbishop Prendergast High School to form Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast High School. The Order of St. Augustine is no longer associated with the combined institution.

Santo Tomas de Villanueva Church Church in Pasig, Philippines

The Santo Tomas de Villanueva Church is the fourth oldest parish in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pasig, following in the senior status of the churches of the Pasig Cathedral in Pasig, Santa Ana Shrine in Taguig and San Roque Parish in Pateros, Philippines. Santolan's 200-year-old patron is Sto. Tomas de Villanueva or Thomas of Villanova. The saint was a great Augustinian bishop and man of charity but unknown in the Manila area.

Alonso de Orozco Mena Spanish philosopher (1500-1591)

Saint Alonso de Orozco Mena was a Spanish Roman Catholic priest from the Augustinian order. He was well known across Spain for his preaching abilities and for an austere and humble life.

Cristóbal de Torres

Cristóbal de Torres y Motones, OP was a Spanish-born prelate of the Catholic Church in New Spain. A member of the Dominican Order, in 1635 he was appointed archbishop of the Archdiocese of Santafé en Nueva Granada. There, he was one of the first bishops in New Spain to admit indigenous people to communion, and he later founded Del Rosario University in Bogotá.

Michael Hurley (19th-century priest) Augustinian priest

Michael Hurley was an American Catholic priest and an Augustinian friar. He served as pastor of St. Augustine Church in Philadelphia for seventeen years, as vicar general of the American province of the Order of Saint Augustine, and as vicar general of the Diocese of Philadelphia.


  1. 1 2 3 Dohan, Edward. "St. Thomas of Villanova." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 14. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 20 Jan. 2014
  2. 1 2 3 "St. Thomas of Villanova", Villanova University
  3. 1 2 3 "St. Thomas of Villanova", Catholic News Agency
  4. 1 2 3 Foley O.F.M., Leonard. Saint of the Day, Lives, Lessons, and Feast, Franciscan Media
  5. 1 2 3 "St. Thomas of Villanova", Midwest Augustinians
  6. 1 2 "Saint Thomas of Villanova, O.S.A.", Augustinians of the Western United States Archived 2014-02-01 at the Wayback Machine
  7. Maimbourg, Claude (1847). The Lives of St. Thomas of Villanova, Archbishop of Valentia, and Augustinian Friar, and of St. Francis Solano, Apostle of Peru, of the Order of St. Francis. Edward Dunigan. p. 211.
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Jorge de Austria
Archbishop of Valencia
Succeeded by
Francisco de Navarra