a faith community

bishop st. thomas of villanova

the life of st. thomas of villanova an augustinian bishop

st. thomas was born in castile in 1488. he received his surname from villaneuva de los infantes, a spanish town where he was brought up. his father was a miller. the family was considered middle class by today's standards. both parents were very charitable which inevitably became one of their son's best characteristics.

at the age of 16, st. thomas went to the university of alcala. in 1516 he joined the augustinian friars. he was appointed archbishop of valencia in 1545. st. thomas discharged all the duties of a good pastor and visited the churches of his diocese, preaching everywhere in towns and villages with zeal and affection. his sermons were followed by a wonderful change in the lives of people.

there came to his door several hundred poor people and each of them received alms. he took destitute orphans into his care. he convinced many well-to-do people to offer their money in helping the poor. he would often tell them "if you desire that god should hear your prayers — hear the voice of the poor. especially anticipate the wants of those who are ashamed to beg — to make these ask an alms is to make them buy it."

many examples are recorded of his supernatural gifts, such as the power of healing the sick, multiplying food and numerous miracles performed before and after his death. he died of angina pectoris in 1555 at the age of 67. canonization was in 1658. his feast day is celebrated on september 22.

prayer of saint thomas

i will love you, lord, in every way
and without setting limits to my love.
you set no limits to what you have done for me,
you have not measured out your gifts.
i will not measure out my love.
i will love you, lord,
with all my strength, with all my powers,
as much as i am able.

reprinted "prayer of saint thomas" by augustinian press © 2003, p.o. box 476, villanova, pa 19085.  all rights reserved.  used with permission.