A comet that for three years had shone over the monastery disappeared the day the Angelic Doctor died. The sub-prior of the monastery came to lay his ailing eyes against the visage of the saint. And at once he was cured. This was the first miracle to follow the death of Saint Thomas. A great many more came later. I will speak to you of several of them.
Amidst widespread sorrow he was buried in the church of the monastery.
At Ratisbon, Saint Albert, his old master, learned by a vision of the death of his beloved disciple. His companions saw him suddenly dissolve in tears.
“I announce to you,” he said to them, “the saddest of news. Brother Thomas Aquinas, my son in Christ, who was the light of the Church, has just died.”
And from that day on, each time the name of Saint Thomas was mentioned before him, he wept and said, “He was the flower and glory of the world.”
About seven months after the death of the saint, the abbot of Fossa Nuova wished to change the place of his burial, and had his tomb secretly opened.
A sweet odor of roses escaped and filled the chapel, the cloister, and the whole monastery, so the secret could not be kept. The astonished monks hastened to the place whence this perfume came. And they saw the open tomb, and the body of the saint intact as that of a sleeping man.
The same thing happened fourteen years later. Lady Theodora wished to possess as a relic the right hand of her brother. From the open tomb and the intact body a flood of perfume rose again.
Lady Theodora received with great devotion and many tears the consecrated relic.
She kept it for a long time, and then she made a gift of it to a Dominican chapel.
Time passed. It was forty-two years since the Angel of the Schools had joined the celestial choir of the elect, when a visitor to this chapel asked the brother who was in charge to show him the relics.
He venerated them all very piously, but before the hand of Saint Thomas he started to laugh and mock.
Immediately he was seized with a strange sickness; he started to tremble, and his head began to throb.
Terrified, he saw his error, went to Confession, and came back to kiss with respect the hand that he had mocked.
The sweet odor that it gave forth cured him, and filled both his person and his clothing.
All those who met him later spoke of this good smell and asked its cause. This was the only penance of the poor cleric: each time anyone asked, he had to tell of his fault of irreverence, his strange sickness, his sudden cure, and the miraculous perfume of the hand, still intact. And thus he glorified the saint whom God honored by so many miracles.
And a great number of sick people who invoked him in their prayers or who visited his tomb were miraculously cured.
One day, messengers who were carrying documents concerning the miracles attributed to Brother Thomas Aquinas to the Pope, were going across the Alps above Lausanne. A mule with a very heavy load slipped and fell, rolled down the side of a cliff, and was finally dashed against some jagged rocks.
Dom Mathieu, one of the envoys, invoked the aid of the saint. Then they saw the mule, safe and sound, walking at the bottom of the precipice.
The load he carried had not even slipped out of place.
Other messengers also, carrying to Pope John XXII the written testimony regarding the life and miracles of the Angelic Doctor, found themselves one day on a vessel sailing from Naples to the Roman Curia.
The wind, at first favorable, gave way to a storm. And in the midst of a frightful tempest the vessel was driven toward a reef.
One of the sailors then began to cry loudly to the brothers who were the messengers, “Pray to your saints! Because in a moment the vessel will be dashed against the rocks!”
The brothers, with all their hearts, turned toward the Queen of Heaven and Blessed Dominic. But, above all, they called on Saint Thomas.
Then all changed. A new wind arose, and the galley, running toward the open sea, was saved from certain destruction.
The Pope Canonizes Thomas Aquinas
In ordering the inquiry upon the virtues and miracles of the great Doctor, Pope John XXII had said, “We believe that Brother Thomas is glorious in heaven, because his life was holy, and his doctrine alone is a miracle.” Then, before an assembly of cardinals, casting from right to left “a look gentle as a ray of sun,” he spoke in these terms:
Venerable Brethren, it would be a great glory for us and for the Church if we could inscribe this servant of God among the Saints.
Because alone he has done more to enlighten the Church than all the other Doctors put together.
And in a single year one may profit more from reading what he has written than by studying for a whole lifetime the other theologians.
The inquiry was finished. Numerous miracles had been proven with certainty. The holiness of the life of Brother Thomas Aquinas was attested by many witnesses.
The story of his life was written, and the inquiry regarding his miracles was conducted by William de Tocco, who in his youth had known Brother Thomas. Tocco, also, took the testimony of Reginald, the faithful companion of the saint. All was ready. It was for the Sovereign Pontiff to speak.
Then, by a long letter, dated July 18, 1323, and addressed to the entire Church (such a letter, prescribing the cult of a new saint, is called a bull of canonization), Pope John XXII proclaimed the sainthood of Brother Thomas Aquinas.
image: St. Thomas in stained class, County Tipperary, Ireland/ Andreas F. Borchert, Wikimedia Commons