Saint Thomas Aquinas,
Pintado por Carlo Crivelli (1430-1495),
Painted in 1476,
Témpera sobre álamo
© National Gallery, Londres

Saint Thomas Aquinas,
Pintado por Carlo Crivelli (1430-1495),
Painted in 1476,
Témpera sobre álamo
© National Gallery, Londres

Gospel of 28 enero 2021

Fiesta de Santo Tomás de Aquino

Marcos 4:21-25

Jesus said to the crowd, 'Would you bring in a lamp to put it under a tub or under the bed? Surely you will put it on the lamp-stand? For there is nothing hidden but it must be disclosed, nothing kept secret except to be brought to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen to this.'

He also said to them, 'Take notice of what you are hearing. The amount you measure out is the amount you will be given – and more besides; for the man who has will be given more; from the man who has not, even what he has will be taken away.'

Reflexión sobre la obra de arte

We celebrate the Feast of St Thomas Aquinas today. Our painting by Carlo Crivelli is probably one of the main images that gets used the most by publishers or writers when talking about Thomas Aquinas. There are surprisingly few paintings over the centuries which have portrayed him as a subject matter. Not sure why. And even this painting was part of a larger altarpiece (The Demidoff Altarpiece), so again, this is not really a stand-alone painting of our saint. 

What is beautiful about our panel is the techniques Crivelli used to make his painting seem three-dimensional. He used gilding, punching and incising (especially around the halo) to emphasise St Thomas' holiness. Crivelli also used pastiglia to raise a small area (St Thomas' brooch hovering above his heart), accentuating that Aquinas' teachings did not just come from his mind, but also from his heart and soul. Faith and Reason. All these gentle three-dimensional patterns must have shone and flickered in the candle-lit nave of San Domenico, in Ascoli, where the original altarpiece was first installed upon completion in the late 15th century.

Here in seminary we study a lot of Thomas Aquinas. He was a philosopher and a theologian, and he mastered and bridged both disciplines. He believed firmly that both faith and reason ultimately come from God and that the two work in collaboration. As I learn more about St Thomas, what I particularly admire is that, whilst he is hailed as one of the Church's most important thinkers and writers, he was also someone wrestling and struggling. He wrestled with truths, engaged with them and built his findings around these struggles. He studied truth, engaged with questions, critiqued them, and then put various pieces together so that something with more truth came out in the end. He invites us to reflect on Truth,  go deeper, explore it, admire it, love it, put various pieces together... ultimately all making us connect more with God and the wonder of His creation: our minds and hearts.

'Better to illuminate than merely to shine,

to deliver to others contemplated truths than merely to contemplate'

- St Thomas Aquinas

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