About Our Stained Glass Windows
Saint Thomas Aquinas
The fourth window from the rear on the West Side of the church pictures Saint Thomas Aquinas, who, although himself not a youthful saint, is yet placed among the young lovers of Christ, because he is the patron of Catholic Schools.
Saint Thomas was born in Italy in 1226. At the age of 18 against the wishes of his parents, he set out to join the Dominican Friars and become a priest. His mother and father tried to induce him first by tears and entreaties and then by threats to return home. Finally his brothers kidnapped and locked him up in a castle tower as a prisoner for two years. They did everything they could to change his mind. Later in life he taught: “If reverence for parents withdraws us from God’s worship, then we must not stand by our duty to parents against our duty to God.” In his castle prison his brothers exposed to severe temptations against purity. But God protected him in his struggle and sent an angel who girded his waist with a cord – the symbol of chastity. From that time on he was freed from all temptations against purity.
After escaping Saint Thomas studied in Cologne and Paris. Because of his unassuming ways his classmates nick-named him the “dumb ox”. Before long his teacher, Saint Albert the Great prophesized: “You call this young man a dumb ox; but I tell you that one day the whole world will listen to his bellowing“. And we still hear it; that is – the writings of this great saint are even now, after more than 750 years, the foundation upon which rests the teaching of theology and philosophy. In our stained glass window Saint Thomas holds a book which represents his learning. On his breast is the figure of the sun which symbolizes the brillance of his wisdom.
What was the secret of the learning of this great saint? Whenever he wanted to study, to teach, read or write, he would leave his desk for awhile and kneel before his crucifix. One day while Thomas was praying before a large crucifix in his room, the figure of our Lord moved and spoke to him: “Thou hast written well on Me, Thomas. What dost thou wish in return?” He replied, “I wish for nothing but Thyself, Lord“. Solomon had asked for the wisdom of God; Thomas asked for the God of wisdom.
The Pope asked Saint Thomas to write the Eucharistic prayers and hymns for the Feast of Corpus Christi, so great was his knowledge and love for the Blessed Sacrament. The Hymns he composed are still sung centuries later. The “Tantum Ergo” which we sing at Benediction is one of those hymns. Because of his writings on the Eucharist one of our modern popes bestowed upon him the title of “Eucharistic Doctor”. It is advisable to pray to Saint Thomas Aquinas, the patron of Schools, for the grace to acquire that wisdom which will make you say: “I wish for nothing by Thyself, Lord“.