The Silence of St. Thomas

The Silence of St. Thomas Aquinas with Hagia Sophia

Thomas Aquinas with Hagia Sophia


"It is all but impossible to overestimate Origen and his importance for the history of Christian thought. To rank him beside Augustine and Thomas simply accords him his rightful place in this history… The Cappadocians transmit him practically intact to Ambrose, who also knew and copied from him firsthand. Infact, many of the breviary readings of Ambrose (as well as of Jerome and Bede) are practically word for word Origen. Thus, flowing simultaneously from several directions, the heritage of Onigen, already becomes the common possession of the Church, poured over Augustine and through him into the middle ages. But in the East he is subject of wave upon wave of enthusiasm...For there is no thinker in the church who is so invisibly all-present as Origen."
- From Origen: Spirit & Fire by Hans Urs von Balthasar 1938

"One historical reason the Russians were more open to Sophia is that - despite Origen's status in early days as a heretic - the Russians had translations of his Commentary on John (e.q. the Prologue) that were more Sophiological than any Western Father. The passages were put into a widely-used anthology called The Philokalia".
- Philip Holiday

"The last word of St. Thomas is not communication but silence. And it is not death which takes the pen out of his hand. His tongue is stilled by the super-abundance of life in the mystery of God. He is silent, not because he has nothing further to say; he is silent because he has been allowed to glimpse into the inexpressible depths of that mystery which is not reached by any human thought or speech.
The acts of the canonization process record: On the feast of St. Nicholas, in the year 1273, as Thomas turned back to his work after Holy Mass, he was strangely altered. He remained steadily silent; he did not write; he dictated nothing. He lad aside the Summa Theologica on which he had been working. Abruptly, in the middle of the treatise on the Sacrament of Penance, he stopped writing. Reginald, his friend, asks him, troubled: "Father, how can you want to stop such a great work?" Thomas answers only, "I can write no more." Reginald of Piperno seriously believed that his master and friend might have become mentally ill through his overwhelming burden of work. After a long while, he asks and urges once again. Thomas gives the answer: "Reginald, I can write no more. All that I have hitherto written seems to me nothing but straw. Reginald is stunned by his reply".

- Josef Pieper, The Silence of St. Thomas

My acquaintance and fascination with Thomas, the Angelic Doctor, began very early in life, as my father was born on his former feast day of March 7, and he had great affection and respect for his birthday saint.

Of the massive amount of literature on the Holy Master Theologian, I found three books which inspired the visual forms of this icon and finally, it's title: Aquinas Search for Wisdom, by Vernon Bourke; The Silence of St. Thomas by Josef Pieper; and Thomas the Theologian by Thomas O'Meara, OP

This icon of "The Silence of St. Thomas" was commissioned for the celebration of the 25th Anniversary of Ordination by a priest in the Diocese of Gallup.

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Page Last Updated: October 21, 2003