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St. Thomas Aquinas

By Sue Parker | Art by Matt Watters

St. Thomas Aquinas

The Angelica Doctor

Feast Day: January 28

Sacred Hymns From the Angelic Doctor Of The Church

Saint Thomas Aquinas, a Dominican priest and Doctor of the Church, is well-known as the leading theologian of Catholic teaching regarding reason and divine revelation. But did you know he contributed some of the most beautiful and timeless hymns on the Eucharist?

Called the “dumb ox” because he was quiet, Thomas revealed his brilliance and deep belief in Christ’s presence in the Eucharist in the hymns he wrote. The hopefulness he expressed in his words about God’s love for humanity must have sustained him through both personal and professional struggles. His family tried to prevent him from becoming a Dominican. He was criticized and condemned by traditional theologians of his time for his teaching on the connection between faith and reason and of God’s presence in all of nature. He died in 1277 before the wisdom of his teaching was recognized, but was canonized less than 50 years later.

Named a Doctor of the Church in 1567, his Summa contra Gentiles and Summa Theologiae are considered masterpieces of theology and philosophy.

The hymns written by St. Thomas Aquinas express deep trust in God’s presence, especially in the Eucharist. He was commissioned by Pope Urban IV in 1264 to write the text for the Mass of the newly instituted Feast of Corpus Christi (also known as the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ), and he wrote five hymns for its celebration (listed below). Some or parts of these hymns, expressing adoration of God and belief that the bread and wine consecrated at Mass truly become the Body and Blood of Jesus, are still sung today.

  1. Panis Angelicus (Bread Of Angels)
  2. Adore Te Devote (Humbly I Adore Thee)
  3. O Salutaris Hostia (O Saving Victim)
  4. Pange Lingua Corperis (Now, My Tongue, The Mystery Telling)
  5. Tantum Ergo Sacramentum (Come Adore)