Thomas of Villanova

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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
Born Tomás García y Martínez
1488
in Villanueva de los Infantes,
Ciudad Real, Spain
Died September 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

St. Thomas of Villanova O.S.A. (1488 – 8 September 1555) 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.

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 1254 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.

Friar member of a mendicant religious order in Catholic Christianity

A friar is a brother member of one of the mendicant orders founded since the twelfth or thirteenth century; the term distinguishes the mendicants' itinerant apostolic character, exercised broadly under the jurisdiction of a superior general, from the older monastic orders' allegiance to a single monastery formalized by their vow of stability. The most significant orders of friars are the Dominicans, Franciscans, Augustinians and Carmelites.

Asceticism lifestyle of frugality and abstinence of various forms, often for spiritual goals

Asceticism is a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from sensual pleasures, often for the purpose of pursuing spiritual goals. Ascetics may withdraw from the world for their practices or continue to be part of their society, but typically adopt a frugal lifestyle, characterised by the renunciation of material possessions and physical pleasures, and time spent fasting while concentrating on the practice of religion or reflection upon spiritual matters.

Contents

Life

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.

Fuenllana is a municipality in Ciudad Real, Castile-La Mancha, Spain. It has a population of 320.

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.

Province of Ciudad Real Province of Spain

The province of Ciudad Real is a province in the southwestern part of the autonomous community of Castile-La Mancha, Spain. It is bordered by the provinces of Cuenca, Albacete, Jaén, Córdoba, Badajoz, and Toledo. It is partly located in the old natural region of La Mancha. Its capital is Ciudad Real. It is the third largest province by area in all of Spain, after Cáceres and Badajoz. The historic comarca Campo de Calatrava is located in the center of the province.

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.

Salamanca Place in Castile and León, Spain

Salamanca is a city in western Spain that is the capital of the Province of Salamanca in the community of Castile and León. The city lies on several hills by the Tormes River. Its Old City was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. With a metropolitan population of 228,881 in 2012 according to the National Institute of Statistics (INE), Salamanca is the second most populated urban area in Castile and León, after Valladolid (414,000), and ahead of León (187,000) and Burgos (176,000).

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]

Monsignor honorific form of address for certain Catholic clergy

Monsignor is an honorific form of address for some members of the clergy, usually of the Roman Catholic Church, including bishops, honorary prelates and canons. In some cases, these ecclesiastical honorific titles derive from the pope, but in other cases it is simply a customary or honorary style belonging to a prelate or honorary prelate. These are granted to individuals who have rendered valuable service to the church, or who provide some special function in church governance, or who are members of bodies such as certain chapters. Although in some languages the word is used as a form of address for bishops, which is indeed its primary use in those languages, this is not customary in English. Monsignor is the apocopic form of the Italian monsignore, from the French mon seigneur, meaning "my lord". It is abbreviated Mgr or Mons, Msgr, or Mons.

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.

Prior Ecclesiastical title

Prior, derived from the Latin for "earlier, first", is an ecclesiastical title for a superior, usually lower in rank than an abbot or abbess. Its earlier generic usage referred to any monastic superior.

Apostolic visitor position

In the Catholic Church, an apostolic visitor is a papal representative with a transient mission to perform a canonical visitation of relatively short duration. The visitor is deputed to investigate a special circumstance in a diocese or country, and to submit a report to the Holy See at the conclusion of the investigation.

Provincial superior

A provincial superior is a major superior of a religious institute acting under the institute's Superior General and exercising a general supervision over all the members of that institute in a territorial division of the order called a province—similar to but not to be confused with an ecclesiastical province made up of particular churches or dioceses under the supervision of a Metropolitan Bishop. The division of a religious institute into provinces is generally along geographical lines, and may consist of one or more countries, or of only a part of a country. There may be, however, one or more houses of one province situated within the physical territory of another since the jurisdiction over the individual religious is personal rather than territorial. The title of the office is often abbreviated to Provincial.

Bishop

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 were the needs of the people. [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 the future Saint Luis Beltrán, O.P., 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]

Veneration

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

Legacy

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

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References

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Jorge de Austria
Archbishop of Valencia
1544–1555
Succeeded by
Francisco de Navarra