Tuesday, March 09, 2010

St Thomas and St Bonaventure

Print made by Cornelis Boel c. 1576 - 1621 or after
After Otto van Veen 1556 - 1629)
Plate 16: Dispute between the university and the friars in Paris; St Thomas and St Bonaventura at right and being assauled by a crowd of angry men, one of which kicks St Thomas on his leg, buildings and a gate in background; after Otto van Veen
From Vita D. Thomae Aquinatis 1610
208 millimetres x 147 millimetres
The British Museum, London

Kennedy, D. (1912). St. Thomas Aquinas. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved March 9, 2010 from New Advent:


"In due time [St Thomas] was ordered to prepare himself to obtain the degree of Doctor in Theology from the University of Paris, but the conferring of the degree was postponed, owing to a dispute between the university and the friars.

The conflict, originally a dispute between the university and the civic authorities, arose from the slaying of one of the students and the wounding of three others by the city guard.

The university, jealous of its autonomy, demanded satisfaction, which was refused. The doctors closed their schools, solemnly swore that they would not reopen them until their demands were granted, and decreed that in future no one should be admitted to the degree of Doctor unless he would take an oath to follow the same line of conduct under similar circumstances.

The Dominicans and Franciscans, who had continued to teach in their schools, refused to take the prescribed oath, and from this there arose a bitter conflict which was at its height when St. Thomas and St. Bonaventure were ready to be presented for their degrees.

William of St-Amour extended the dispute beyond the original question, violently attacked the friars, of whom he was evidently jealous, and denied their right to occupy chairs in the university.

Against his book, "De periculis novissimorum temporum" (The Perils of the Last Times), St. Thomas wrote a treatise "Contra impugnantes religionem", an apology for the religious orders (Touron, op. cit., II, cc. vii sqq.). The book of William of St-Amour was condemned by Alexander IV at Anagni, 5 October, 1256, and the pope gave orders that the mendicant friars should be admitted to the doctorate.

About this time St. Thomas also combated a dangerous book, "The Eternal Gospel" (Touron, op. cit., II, cxii). The university authorities did not obey immediately; the influence of St. Louis IX and eleven papal Briefs were required before peace was firmly established, and St. Thomas was admitted to the degree of Doctor in Theology.

The date of his promotion, as given by many biographers, was 23 October, 1257. His theme was "The Majesty of Christ". His text, "Thou waterest the hills from thy upper rooms: the earth shall be filled with the fruit of thy works" (Psalm 103:13), said to have been suggested by a heavenly visitor, seems to have been prophetic of his career.

A tradition says that St. Bonaventure and St. Thomas received the doctorate on the same day, and that there was a contest of humility between the two friends as to which should be promoted first."